Diagnosis: Breast cancer

Mum-to-two & university tutor who underwent scalp cooling during her breast cancer treatment

  • Active mum-to-two and university tutor, Annabel, was only 49 years old when her GP identified two concerning lumps on her left breast.
  • After a gruelling five-day wait for the biopsy results, and in the midst of Australia’s COVID-19 pandemic, Annabel received a life-changing breast cancer diagnosis, which left her “shaking all over”.
  • Annabel was referred to a breast surgeon and was relieved to hear the team were still performing surgeries despite COVID-19. After undergoing a double lumpectomy, she was informed she would also need treatment with chemotherapy.
  • While she was determined not to let her diagnosis dominate her life, the prospect of losing her hair through treatment and the stigma associated with this proved psychologically and emotionally challenging.
  • Preparing to lose all her hair, Annabel began exploring different wig options and made an appointment at the wig library. She worried that losing a highly visual feature like her hair would compel her to disclose her diagnosis to others, whether she wanted to or not.
  • However, after hearing about scalp cooling from her team at GenesisCare and a friend who had used the technology, she opted for give it a try, hoping it may give her a chance to keep her natural hair and importantly, her dignity.
  • Annabel commenced her chemotherapy alongside scalp cooling technology at GenesisCare. Although she lost the hair on her body, including her eyebrows and eyelashes, thankfully, she retained the hair on her head. 
  • Annabel is a passionate advocate for the use of scalp-cooling technology and wants more Australian women undergoing breast cancer treatment to know this option is available and is glad to hear more women now have access to this technology.

“When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I was shocked. However, not long after that I quickly went into solution mode. I was determined to take my diagnosis as a little bump in the road.” 

“On one hand, I was very lucky. I had an amazing surgeon who did a double lumpectomy, and my scar has completely healed, but on the other hand, the physical and psychological effects of going through chemotherapy were significant. At one stage, I had no energy and was relying on friends for food and dinner. I couldn’t concentrate anymore and felt extremely lethargic.” 

“One of my biggest concerns about chemotherapy was losing my hair through treatment. Your breasts are quintessential to being a woman and so is your hair, that’s how you see yourself every morning.”

“After speaking to my doctor at GenesisCare and a friend who had opted for the scalp cooling treatment, I was eager to give it a go. I wanted to keep my natural hair.”

“My advice to Australian women living with breast cancer, and worried about treatment-related hair loss is to look into scalp cooling. While it doesn’t work the same for everyone, for me, it was fabulous. It’s great to be able to keep your dignity and allows you to choose who you want to tell about your cancer, giving you back some control and helping your psychological recovery.”

Annabel, Sydney