The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update


August 19, 2013

Looking for a home

Salon owner seeks to make cold cap therapy available to chemo patients



Few freezers

Sometimes, patients bring the caps with them to their chemotherapy along with a supply of dry ice. A buddy helps switch out the caps during therapy.

Another solution is a biomedical freezer place on-site in which to store the rented caps. Right now, however, there are only about 50 freezers placed around the country for chemotherapy patients to use. In Indiana, there is only one – in Westville in northwestern Indiana.

In Anderson, Medusa Hair Salon’s Stacie Leons-Parnell has been raising funds for the Rapunzel Project since 2012. In June this year, she was joined by hair stylists around the county in a fundraising effort which brought in about $1,000, and they secured the donation of a new biomedical freezer from Helmer Scientific in Noblesville. It now sits at the salon, waiting for a home.

“How cool would it be to have people come to Madison County to get their chemo because they can keep their hair?” asks Leons-Parnell. “Why can’t we be on top of this?.... We should be innovative.”

Leons-Parnell approached both Community Hospital Anderson and St. Vincent Anderson Regional months ago about making the therapy available. Although both facilities expressed interest, nothing developed.

“We are open to it,” agreed Marsha Sherrell, director of cancer services at Community Hospital Anderson. The problem right now for Community is logistics – the current facility is crowded. “We do eventually want to be able to offer that… It’s a matter of getting in the new building.” The new facility will open in 2014. Sherrell is also concerned about patient education.

“This is a very cold cap. There are complications that could happen from that,” said Sherrell. She expressed concerns about possible frostbite or lowered blood chemistries. “I’m not opposed to it. I want to make sure we have the right steps in place.”

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    When a patient loses hair as a result of chemotherapy, for many, the ramifications are much deeper. That’s where an alternative therapy known as the cold cap comes in, and local hair stylist Stacie Leons-Parnell is on a mission to make sure it’s available to those who want it.

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