Cancer Survivor Advocates for ‘Scalp Cooling’ Treatment, Helping Keep Her Hair During Chemotherapy

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KX News (Mandan) — Though it often helps in the fight against cancer, chemotherapy can also cause numerous side effects depending on the patient; one of those side effects is losing all or some of one’s hair.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way. As it turns out, there is one option to help reduce hair loss.

On a typical weekday, in her kitchen/recording area, Rebecca Wanner records her nationally syndicated radio show. Down the hall in their Mandan home, her fiancee, Jeff Erhardt records his syndicated program, but there haven’t been a lot of typical days for the couple recently.

It’s hard to tell by looking at her but Wanner was recently diagnosed with cancer and a rare one at that.

It’s named Squamous Cell Carcinoma Triple Negative. Normally, it’s a type of skin or lung cancer, however, Wanner has it in one of her breasts, but it’s not breast cancer. All this to say, it’s a rarity.

“It is a less than one percent chance that it would ever be found deep inside the breast,” she said.

She explained her healthcare team is treating this as a lung cancer. Despite this rare cancer, as mentioned before, it’s hard to tell that she has it and is going through chemotherapy. That’s because Wanner is using something called Scalp Cooling from Paxman.

Research from Paxman shows the cap reduces the scalp’s temperature a few minutes before, during and after a chemo treatment. By doing so, it reduces the amount of blood filled with the chemo drug from traveling to hair follicles.

Wanner pointed out this is prescription treatment. It’s also not available everywhere and so, she drives to Fargo once a week to the Roger Maris Cancer Center, it’s not offered in Bismarck.

Wanner said though it’s a long drive, it’s worth it.

“When you look at cancer, you’re grasping for something you can still control in your life. You’re grasping to be able to still feel the way you always felt. You may feel sick but it doesn’t mean you have to look sick,” Wanner said.

“We really feel that if we can beat this thing psychologically, she’ll beat this hands down physically,” Erhardt said.

Erhardt said “we” because it’s been a team effort supporting Wanner in her fight.

For her part, Wanner relies on her team of family and friends help to keep her going, most notably though, her co-worker, fellow radio personality, soon-to-be husband, as well as another title: “my rock,” Wanner said.

Wanner said though she recommends it, scalp-cooling therapy isn’t an option for every type of cancer treatment. She also said out she did have to pay $2,500 out of pocket. With all that in mind, despite the cost, Wanner hopes to see this offered in more locations.

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