DiversityNursing Blog

She Got A Surprise Of A Lifetime On Her Last Day Of Chemo [VIDEO]

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Jun 29, 2015 @ 11:04 AM

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Wait until you see this beautiful surprise! She’s amazing; he’s a thoughtful guy; and they’re are a special couple.

Lucas D'onofrio's girlfriend will remember her last chemotherapy session for the rest of her life. 



Topics: surprise, chemo, hospital, chemotherapy

5 Reasons Radiation Treatment has Never Been Safer (Op-Ed)

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Mar 30, 2015 @ 01:40 PM

Dr. Edward Soffen

Source: www.livescience.com

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Dr. Edward Soffen is a board-certified radiation oncologist and medical director of the Radiation Oncology Department at CentraState Medical Center's Statesir Cancer Center in Freehold, New Jersey. He contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

As a radiation oncologist, my goal is to use radiation as an extremely powerful and potent tool to eradicate cancer tumors in the body: These techniques save and extend patients' lives every day. 

Historically, radiation treatments have been challenged by the damage they cause healthy tissue surrounding a tumor, but new technologies are now slashing those risks.

How radiation therapies work

High-energy radiation kills cancer cells by damaging DNA so severely that the diseased cells die. Radiation treatments may come from a machine (x-ray or proton beam), radioactive material placed in the body near tumor cells, or from a fluid injected into the bloodstream. A patient may receive radiation therapy before or after surgery and/or chemotherapy, depending on the type, location and stage of the cancer. 

Today's treatment options target radiation more directly to a tumor — quickly, and less invasively — shortening overall radiation treatment times. And using new Internet-enabled tools, physicians across the country can collaborate by sharing millions of calculations and detailed algorithms for customizing the best treatment protocols for each patient. With just a few computer key strokes, complicated treatment plans can be anonymously shared with other physicians at remote sites who have expertise in a particular oncologic area. Through this collaboration, doctors offer their input and suggestions for optimizing treatment. In turn, the patient benefits from a wide community of physicians who share expertise based upon their research, clinical expertise and first-hand experience. 

The result is safer, more effective treatments. Here are five of the most exciting examples:

1. Turning breast cancer upside down

When the breast is treated while the patient is lying face down, with radiation away from the heart and lungs, a recent study found an 86 percent reduction in the amount of lung tissue irradiated in the right breast and a 91 percent reduction in the left breast. Additionally, administering prone-position radiation therapy in this fashion does not inhibit the effectiveness of the treatment in any way.

2. Spacer gel for prostate cancer

Prostate cancer treatment involves delivering a dose of radiation to the prostate that will destroy the tumor cells, but not adversely affect the patient. A new hydrogel, a semi-solid natural substance, will soon be used to decrease toxicity from radiation beams to the nearby rectum. The absorbable gel is injected by a syringe between the prostate and the rectum which pushes the rectum out of the way while treating the prostate. As a result, there is much less radiation inadvertently administered to the rectum through collateral damage. This can significantly improve a patient's daily quality of life — bowel function is much less likely to be affected by scar tissue or ulceration. [Facts About Prostate Cancer (Infographic )]

3. Continual imaging improves precision

Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) uses specialized computer software to take continual images of a tumor before and during radiation treatment, which improves the precision and accuracy of the therapy. A tumor can move day by day or shrink during treatment. Tracking a tumor's position in the body each day allows for more accurate targeting and a narrower margin of error when focusing the beam. It is particularly beneficial in the treatment of tumors that are likely to move during treatment, such as those in the lung, and for breast, gastrointestinal, head and neck and prostate cancer. 

In fact, the prostate can move a few millimeters each day depending on the amount of fluid in the bladder and stool or gas in the rectum. Head and neck cancers can shrink significantly during treatment, allowing for the possibility of adaptive planning (changing the beams during treatment), again to minimize long term toxicity and side effects.

4. Lung, liver and spine cancers can now require fewer treatments 

Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) offers a newer approach to difficult-to-treat cancers located in the lung, liver and spine. It is a concentrated, high-dose form of radiation that can be delivered very quickly with fewer sessions. Conventional treatment requires 30 radiation treatments daily for about six weeks, compared to SBRT which requires about three to five treatments over the course of only one week. The cancer is treated from a 3D perspective in multiple angles and planes, rather than a few points of contact, so the tumor receives a large dose of radiation, but normal tissue receives much less. By attacking the tumor from many different angles, the dose delivered to the normal tissue (in the path of any one beam) is quite minimal, but when added together from a multitude of beams coming from many different planes, all intersecting inside the tumor, the cancer can be annihilated. 

5. Better access to hard-to-reach tumors

Proton-beam therapy is a type of radiation treatment that uses protons rather than x-rays to treat cancer. Protons, however, can target the tumor with lower radiation doses to surrounding normal tissues, depending on the location of the tumor. It has been especially effective for replacing surgery in difficult-to-reach areas, treating tumors that don't respond to chemotherapy, or situations where photon-beam therapy will cause too much collateral damage to surrounding tissue. Simply put, the proton (unlike an x-ray) can stop right in the tumor target and give off all its energy without continuing through the rest of the body. One of the more common uses is to treat prostate cancer. Proton therapy is also a good choice for small tumors in areas which are difficult to pinpoint — like the base of the brain — without affecting critical nerves like those for vision or hearing. Perhaps the most exciting application for this treatment approach is with children. Since children are growing and their tissues are rapidly dividing, proton beam radiation has great potential to limit toxicity for those patients. Children who receive protons will be able to maintain more normal neurocognitive function, preserve lung function, cardiac function and fertility. 

While cancer will strike more than 1.6 million Americans in 2015, treatments like these are boosting survival rates. In January 2014, there were nearly 14.5 million American cancer survivors. By January 2024, that number is expected to increase to nearly 19 million

But make no mistake — radiation therapy, one of the most powerful resources used to defeat cancer, is not done yet. As we speak, treatment developments in molecular biology, imaging technology and newer delivery techniques are in the works, and will continue to provide cancer patients with even less invasive treatment down the road.

Source: www.livescience.com

Topics: surgery, physician, innovation, oncology, technology, health, healthcare, nurse, medical, cancer, patients, hospital, medicine, treatments, radiation, chemotherapy, doctor, certified oncologist, oncologist, x-ray

Wisconsin Mom and Daughter Diagnosed with Cancer 13 Days Apart

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, Mar 06, 2015 @ 11:14 AM

ELIZA MURPHY

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It’s a battle they never thought they’d face, let alone at the same time.

Missy and Brooke Shatley, a mother and daughter from Prairie Farm, Wisconsin, both have cancer. They were diagnosed only 13 days apart.

“It’s that unbelief,” Missy, 38, told ABC News of her reaction when they learned the devastating news. “You feel numb like this can’t really be happening. This is happening to somebody else, it could never be you.”

 

Missy was diagnosed with stage 2 cervical cancer on December 26, the day after Christmas.

“I went in for my annual physical and that was the result of it,” she explained.

Then on January 8, Brooke, Missy and her husband Jason’s oldest child, was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer.

“Why us? Why?,” Missy asked. “Is it something in our water? Is it genetic? Why both of us in such a short time frame? The doctor said it’s not the water, it’s not the environment, it’s just a freak act of nature.”

Before Missy’s diagnosis, Brooke, 14, had been experiencing severe abdominal pain that went undiagnosed for several weeks.

“The doctors told us she had a baseball-sized hemorrhagic disc and it would go away on its own and we should just wait,” Missy explained. “We waited for a few weeks and thought, ‘This is ridiculous,’ and we sought a second opinion.”

The Shatley’s then took Brooke to see the same specialist that had just diagnosed her mom days earlier. The devastating news was that Brooke’s tumor was larger than they originally suspected and needed to be operated on immediately.

“It was a four-and-a-half hour surgery,” Missy recalled. “It was a football-sized tumor. It had intertwined in her abdomen. You couldn’t tell by looking at her belly, but it was football-sized.”

The brave mother-daughter duo began undergoing intense treatments at the same time in Marshfield, Wisconsin, about two hours from their home--understandably weighing heavily on husband and father Jason, a dairy farmer, who was traveling back and forth to take care of them while also tending to their other two children and maintaining their farm.

“It’s hard,” Missy said. “Just to even think, ‘That’s my wife and daughter,’ how does anybody deal with that? Plus we have two other kids at home so he’s trying to be a husband, father, keep up with the farm, he’s being pulled in so many directions, how do you even begin?”

This week has been better for the family, however. Both Missy and Brooke are back home, resting and enjoying their time, although possibly brief, out of the hospital.

Missy just completed her final round of radiation and chemotherapy on March 2. She now must wait eight to 12 weeks before they can tell how effective the treatment was on her cancer.

Brooke still has one more round of chemo to complete, tentatively scheduled to begin on March 9.

Although their simultaneous diagnosis has been difficult, Missy says, in a way, it’s been nice to have that newfound bond with her daughter.

“You don’t want to experience it with anybody, but if you have to, doing it as a mother-daughter is helpful,” she said. “You’re bonding over raw emotions. It’s definitely a connection that you form.”

On March 28 their community is holding a benefit for the resilient pair, which Missy says is just one of the generous things they’ve done to help throughout this process.

“Not in a million years could I imagine the outreach we’ve had,” she said. “The surrounding communities have been phenomenal. We have a dairy farm so we’ve had people volunteer to do chores, saw wood, make meals, provide transportation for the other kids when we need it--anything and everything they’ve offered up.”

Most importantly, she added, “Prayers, lots of prayers.”

Source: http://abcnews.go.com

Topics: mother, chemo, health, nurse, nurses, doctors, health care, cancer, hospital, medicine, treatments, radiation, chemotherapy, daughter, cervical cancer

Connecticut Teenager With Cancer Loses Court Fight to Refuse Chemotherapy

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Jan 12, 2015 @ 10:17 AM

By ELIZABETH A. HARRIS

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The police were banging on the doors and the windows of her home while she cowered in the closet, a 17-year-old girl recounted. She remembered clutching her phone, crying, calling her mother.

“I was scared,” she wrote of the experience.

It may sound like a drug raid, or the climax of a movie. But in fact, the police, along with representatives of Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families, had come to take the girl for chemotherapy.

Do you think she has the right to refuse chemotherapy?

The girl, identified in court papers as Cassandra C., learned that she had Hodgkin’s lymphoma in September. Ever since, she and her mother have been entangled in a legal battle with the state of Connecticut over whether Cassandra, who is still a minor, can refuse the chemotherapy that doctors say is likely to save her life. Without it, the girl’s doctors say, she will die.

“It’s poison,” Cassandra’s mother, Jackie Fortin, said of chemotherapy in an interview on Friday. “Does it kill the cancer? I guess they say it does kill the cancer. But it also kills everything else in your body.”

Ms. Fortin continued, “It’s her body, and she should not be forced to do anything with her body.”

Doctors said in court documents that they had explained to Cassandra that while chemotherapy had side effects, serious risks were minimal.

On Thursday, Connecticut’s Supreme Court ruled that Cassandra had had the chance to show at trial that she was a “mature minor,” competent to make her own medical decisions, but had failed to do so. And so the chemotherapy treatments, which had already begun, will continue.

Cassandra was a healthy, artistic 16-year-old before the illness was diagnosed, her mother said. She liked to paint and draw, mostly abstract pieces, but also cartoons and silly things. She had a paper route and a retail job. She had a tattoo on her back of the character Simba from “The Lion King,” the namesake of her cherished, yellow tabby cat. She had been home-schooled since the 10th grade.

Then she found a lump on the right side of her neck. She went to her pediatrician, and after rounds of tests that dragged on for months, doctors at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford told her she had Hodgkin’s lymphoma. According to court documents, her doctors said that with chemotherapy, and sometimes radiation, patients had an 85 percent chance of being disease-free after five years.

Ms. Fortin, of Windsor Locks, near Hartford, said that she and her daughter had wanted a second opinion and a fresh battery of tests. They had begun looking for a new team of doctors to verify the diagnosis, and hoped to find alternatives to chemotherapy.

But the state said in court documents that Ms. Fortin had not brought her daughter to some medical appointments and was “not attending to Cassandra’s medical needs in a timely basis.”

The Department of Children and Families took temporary custody of the girl in late October 2014. Two weeks later, she was allowed to go home, so long as she underwent chemotherapy. But after two days of treatment, she ran away from home.

“Although I didn’t have any intention of proceeding with the chemotherapy once I returned home, I endured two days of it,” Cassandra wrote in an essay published in The Hartford Courant this week. “Two days was enough; mentally and emotionally, I could not go through with chemotherapy.”

About a week after running away, Cassandra came home. In her essay, she wrote that she had returned because she was afraid her disappearance might land her mother in jail. In December, she was hospitalized.

“I was strapped to a bed by my wrists and ankles and sedated,” she wrote in the essay, which was accompanied by a photo of her in the hospital. “I woke up in the recovery room with a port surgically placed in my chest. I was outraged and felt completely violated.”

“How long is a person actually supposed to live, and why?” she wrote. “I care about the quality of my life, not just the quantity.”

In a statement this week, the Department of Children and Families said it preferred to work with families, not compel them, but had no choice in some cases.

“When experts — such as the several physicians involved in this case — tell us with certainty that a child will die as a result of leaving a decision up to a parent,” the statement said, “then the Department has a responsibility to take action.”

Cassandra’s legal battle is not unprecedented, but it is unusual, said Dr. Paul S. Appelbaum, director of the Division of Law, Ethics, and Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons.

“Nobody likes to overrule a parent and a child, particularly when they are in agreement,” he said.

Courts tend to be cautious about ordering treatment over a patient’s objections, Dr. Appelbaum said, and whether they do so often involves several factors, including the seriousness of the condition, the child’s maturity, and concern about whether the child’s opinions are being influenced by a parent or other third party. Several of those variables appear to have figured in this case, he said.

But Ms. Fortin’s lawyer, James P. Sexton, said that Cassandra was only months shy of her 18th birthday, when the decision about her care would be hers to make. By then, the chemotherapy will most likely be over.

Today she is confined to the hospital. Her communications are limited, as are her visits with her mother. Mr. Sexton said the family would continue to fight in court.

Source: www.nytimes.com

Topics: body, choice, teenager, court, Hodgkin's lymphoma, police, forced, DCF, nurses, doctors, medical, cancer, hospital, chemotherapy, treatment

Legal Battle Rages Over Whether to Force 17-Year-Old Cancer Patient to Have Chemo

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Jan 07, 2015 @ 01:38 PM

By SYDNEY LUPKIN

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A court will determine whether a 17-year-old girl, under something called the "mature minor doctrine," can be forced to undergo chemotherapy after she refused treatment for her cancer.

How do you feel about this?

The case will go to the Connecticut Supreme court this week to determine whether the teen, identified in court papers as Cassandra, has "the fundamental right to have a say about what goes on with your [her] body," attorney Michael Taylor, who represents the teen's mother, told ABC News. Taylor was appointed by the public defender's office, and Cassandra has her own court-appointed lawyer, but they've filed joint appeals.

Cassandra was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in September, but decided she didn't want to complete the prescribed treatment, according to a court summary. Her mother supported this decision, but the Department of Children and Families stepped in and ordered her mother to comply with the doctor's treatment recommendation.

"It's really for all the reasons you might imagine," said Taylor, adding that he couldn't go into more detail.

Although chemotherapy is a drug that destroys cancer cells, its side effects include hair loss, nausea, pain and fertility changes, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Cassandra underwent two chemotherapy treatments in November and then ran away from home and refused to continue treatments, according to the court summary.

A court hearing ensued in which Cassandra's doctors testified, and she was removed from her mother's home and placed in state custody so that the state could make medical decisions for her.

She has been has been living at Connecticut Children's Medical Center and forced to undergo chemotherapy for about three weeks.

The Hartford Courant reported that Cassandra has an 80 to 85 percent chance of surviving her cancer if she continues with her chemotherapy.

The state Department of Children and Families issued the following statement:

"When experts -- such as the several physicians involved in this case -- tell us with certainty that a child will die as a result of leaving a decision up to a parent, then the Department has a responsibility to take action. Even if the decision might result in criticism, we have an obligation to protect the life of the child when there is consensus among the medical experts that action is required. Much of the improvements in Connecticut's child welfare system have come from working with families voluntarily to realize solutions to family challenges. Unfortunately that can't happen in every situation, especially when the life of a child is at stake."

"No one is disputing that it's very serious," Taylor said. He said there's "a good chance" Cassandra could survive her cancer with treatment, and "there's a good chance she could die if she doesn't. None of us disagree about that."

Taylor said they're trying to argue that because Cassandra is competent, she should be allowed to make this decision for herself through something called the "mature minor doctrine," which has been adopted in Illinois and a few other states but rejected in Texas. The doctrine holds that some children are mature enough to make key life decisions for themselves.

Source: http://abcnews.go.com

Topics: chemo, minor, legal, Medical Center, State, health, healthcare, family, nurses, doctors, children, medical, cancer, hospital, medicine, treatments, chemotherapy

'Invisible Tattoos' Could Improve Body Confidence After Breast Cancer Radiotherapy

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Nov 03, 2014 @ 11:16 AM

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Invisible tattoos could replace the permanent dark ink tattoos used to ensure that breast cancer patients having radiotherapy are treated in exactly the same spot during each session, according to results from a pilot study to be presented at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Conference.

Research suggests that the permanent pin prick marks made on the skin of women having radiotherapy reminds them of their diagnosis for years to come, reducing body confidence and self-esteem.

It's also more difficult to spot these tattoos in dark-skinned women, potentially leading to inconsistencies in the area being treated.

The NIHR-funded researchers, based at The Royal Marsden hospital in London, asked 42 breast cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy to rate how they felt about their body, before the treatment and one month later.

Half the women were offered fluorescent tattoos, only visible under UV light, while the other half had conventional dark ink tattoos.

The researchers found that 56 per cent of the women who had fluorescent tattoos felt better about their bodies one month after treatment, compared to only 14 per cent among those who received black ink tattoos.

Using fluorescent tattoos also made no difference to the accuracy of treatment and took only slightly longer to carry out, compared to conventional dark ink tattoos.

Steven Landeg, a senior radiographer from the Royal Marsden, who is presenting the data, said: "These findings suggest that offering fluorescent radiotherapy tattoos as an alternative to dark ink ones could help ameliorate the negative feelings some women feel towards their bodies after treatment. It's important to remember that body image is subjective and dark ink radiotherapy tattoos will affect patients differently, but we hope that these results will go some way towards making this a viable option for radiotherapy patients in the future."

Evelyn Weatherall, 62, Surrey, had six cycles of chemotherapy, followed by radiotherapy, after being diagnosed with breast cancer following routine mammography through the UK's breast screening programme.

She said: "I'd asked if I could be part of any kind of clinical trial during my treatment because I'd read about how successful they were proving to be. My doctors told me about the invisible tattoos they were pioneering at The Royal Marsden hospital and I was more than happy to take part. I had lost my hair during chemotherapy and felt that I didn't want another visible reminder of my cancer.

"I think I was one of the first to undergo this procedure and it really worked. There wasn't a mark on my skin after the radiotherapy planning. I was going to a wedding soon afterwards and knew I'd be able to wear an outfit that didn't make me feel self-conscious.

"It's wonderful to think that I may have been a part of something that could become standard in the future."

Professor Matt Seymour, NCRI's clinical research director said: "With more than half of all cancer patients now surviving 10 years and beyond, it's imperative that we do everything we can to reduce the long term impact of treatment on patients, including cosmetic changes."

The study was funded by the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR).

Source: MNT

Topics: cancer, patients, breast cancer, radiation, chemotherapy, tattoos, radiology, self esteem, body confidence

How A Cooling Cap Could Change Breast Cancer Treatment

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Oct 15, 2014 @ 11:29 AM

By JESSICA FIRGER

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When Donna Tookes learned she had breast cancer last winter, the 59-year-old thought she had no choice but to accept one of the most dreaded side-effects of chemotherapy: losing her mane of silver hair, a feature that strangers young and old frequently stopped to admire.

"I had resigned myself," Tookes told CBS News. "I had purchased an array of scarves, about 10. And I actually practiced tying them."

Tookes was diagnosed with breast cancer in January after her annual mammogram, when her doctors detected some mild calcifications in her right breast. These clusters of white flecks visible on her scan indicated there might be something seriously wrong. After a few subsequent tests, Tookes learned she had HER2 breast cancer, an especially aggressive form that can be difficult to treat. Though her doctors caught the cancer early, they wanted to be certain it would never return, which meant a unilateral mastectomy followed by 12 rounds of punishing chemotherapy.

"You have a consultation before you start chemotherapy," said Tookes, who lives with her husband and children in Stamford, Connecticut, and has worked for more than three decades as a flight attendant. "I was told I would lose my hair. And then the nurse assured me, she told me 'you're beautiful,' and that I was one of the only ones who could carry the bald look because I have that bone structure."

But her family could see that losing her hair would take a serious toll on her psyche. Tookes had heard about some treatment in Europe that helps prevent chemo-related hair loss, though she didn't know many details. Secretly, her husband began to conduct research. He wrote to friends in Sweden, who were able to obtain information about a new and innovative therapy called a scalp cooling cap. He soon found out that Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York City was involved in a clinical trial on the device, known as the DigniCap System, which is worn by a patient during chemotherapy transfusions.

The snug cap is secured onto a patient's head each time she undergoes chemotherapy. It chills the scalp down to 5 degrees Celsius so that the blood vessels surrounding the hair roots contract, meaning that less of the toxins from chemo enter the hair follicle. This minimizes -- and in some cases completely stops -- a patient's hair from falling out.

At first, Tookes was slightly skeptical, but her family finally convinced her to move her cancer treatment from her hospital in Connecticut to Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York City.

Dr. Paula Klein, assistant professor of medicine, hematology and medical oncology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and principal investigator for the clinical trial, told CBS News the device has been effective at limiting hair loss in nearly all of her patients enrolled.

"Unfortunately, in breast cancer the two most active agents are associated with significant hair loss," said Klein. "For many women with early stage breast cancer, they are getting chemotherapy for prevention of recurrence."

Klein said overall, women who use the cap lose just 25 percent of their hair. There are some patients who lose more and a lucky handful who lost no hair at all.

The clinical trial is now in its final phase. The company behind the cap, Dignitana, will be submitting results to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by the end of November, and hope to win FDA approval for the cap in 2015.

For women struggling through a difficult medical ordeal, the benefit is significant. Research published in 2008 in the journal Psycho-Oncology looked at 38 existing studies on breast cancer treatment and quality of life issues, and found hair loss consistently ranked the most troubling side effect of treatment for women. "Significant alopecia [hair loss] is problematic," said Klein. "Every time you look in the mirror, you remember you're getting cancer treatment."

Many breast cancer survivors report that even when their hair finally grows back after chemotherapy it is often different in color or texture than the hair they had before, due to the period of time it takes the hair follicles to recover from the damage caused by the drugs.

Moreover, the feelings associated with hair loss impact nearly every aspect of a breast cancer patient's life -- from her self-image and sexuality to whether or not she is comfortable at work or even walking into the supermarket to buy a quart of milk.

When she first prepared for treatment, Tookes worried how people would react to her appearance if she lost all of her hair. But it didn't happen. Seven weeks into chemo, she finally felt confident enough to return the unused wardrobe of scarves. She still had a full head of hair. Because the cooling therapy was used only on her scalp, Tookes did still lose her eyebrows and "everything south of there."

Tookes is now cancer-free and says the therapy helped her stay optimistic about her prognosis. "My mother used to say, you just comb your hair and get yourself together and you'll get through hard times," she said.

Source: www.cbsnews.com

Topics: cooling cap, DigniCap, health, healthcare, nurses, doctors, cancer, breast cancer, chemotherapy, treatment

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