The Bays Hospital is the only private hospital on the Mornington Peninsula to offer cancer patients scalp cooling while they undergo chemotherapy to help prevent a common side effect of treatment – hair loss.
Scalp cooling caps work by chilling the head to reduce the amount of chemotherapy drugs that reach the hair follicles.
Breast cancer patient, Penny Watson, recently used a cooling cap during her chemotherapy treatment at The Bays, and said it helped to minimise her hair loss.
“I’ve been pretty lucky because my hair has only thinned out a little bit, but it didn’t fall out in clumps. It can be quite uncomfortable to wear the cap, but I associate it with taking a walk on the beach in the middle of winter,” said Penny.
Day Infusion Unit Associate Nurse Manager, Marnie Paulberg said the scalp cooling cap – which is available free to all oncology patients – makes a big difference to cancer patients on the Peninsula.
“Losing your hair can be quite traumatic, and hair loss can also be the most obvious outward sign that a patient has cancer,” said Marnie. “Minimising hair loss helps patients look and feel like their usual self, which can really improve their mental health and wellbeing.”
“There is some evidence that scalp cooling can lower the risk of significant hair loss by 43 per cent, leaving people feeling that they had enough remaining hair so they did not need to use a wig or hair covering,” she added.
Penny – who has been a midwife at The Bays for 12 years – was diagnosed in January and looked for an oncologist based there so she could have her treatment close to home and surrounded by her trusted colleagues and friends.
“I have been very well cared for by all the staff and doctors, especially my oncologist Dr Zee Wan Wong, and I’m so grateful I have been able to have my treatment ‘at home’ and know I’m getting the best advice,” said Penny.
“Staff have always been so welcoming of my family who keep me company during treatment. There’s plenty of space for them to sit with me, and having a giggle with the staff is a welcome distraction. It’s also been wonderful having treatment so close to home because it’s easy for my family to get to.”
“The Day Infusion Unit at The Bays is such a welcoming, comfortable and calming environment. It’s really nice being able to look out the big windows while sitting in the armchair, and you forget there are other patients in the unit. You feel like you’re the only one there.”
The Bays is currently building a comprehensive Cancer Care Centre to expand their current cancer services and enable local residents to undergo radiation therapy on the Mornington Peninsula.
Community help is still required to complete this important project. As an independent, not-for-profit charity, The Bays Hospital welcomes all donations.