Having survived cancer and the unpleasant effects of chemotherapy, Andrea (Stone) Pietramale, her prognosis good and her attitude strong and cheerful, now wants to help other cancer patients receiving chemo from losing their hair while undergoing that form of treatment.
As reported earlier by SooToday after having her right breast removed due to breast cancer in 2018, Andrea, determined not to lose her hair while undergoing post-surgical chemotherapy, went online and rented expensive yet effective cold cap technology in order to keep most of her hair.
The caps and accompanying equipment in cold cap kits (which require one’s scalp to be frozen to minus 30 degrees) and the cold temperature close off the hair follicles.
As a result, the blood that carries the chemo through the body doesn’t go to the hair roots, therefore allowing a patient to keep most of his/her hair during chemo treatment.
Her last chemotherapy treatment in which she needed a cold cap took place Jan. 9, cheerfully speaking to SooToday even while preparing to undergo a different, subsequent kind of chemo treatment Wednesday afternoon.
Fortunately, that second type of chemo does not cause hair loss.
Andrea needs to continue with that different treatment until November 2019, hoping to eventually return to work as a schoolteacher.
“I’m feeling better. I’m feeling like a million bucks,” said Andrea, recently recovered from a nasty bout with the flu.
“I seriously feel like I’m back to being myself. I’m able to get out and move. Before, I was stuck in bed because I was so sick with the flu for five weeks.”
Andrea is now going for walks and getting involved in an exercise class.
“Absolutely,” said Andrea when asked if she credits the cold caps in preventing chemotherapy-related hair loss.
“Another lady (who prefers to stay anonymous) contacted me in the middle of January and I helped her with the cold caps. She just finished her bad chemo treatments a couple of weeks ago and has successfully kept her hair.”
Determined to help, Andrea is planning a fundraiser to rent as many cold caps as possible for others receiving chemotherapy treatment.
The Cold Cap Fundraiser will be held Saturday, May 25 at The Machine Shop at 83 Huron St.
Doors open at 8 p.m., the event including a silent auction, music by The Tilrays (formerly Stiffler’s Mom) beginning at 9 p.m., and a pizza buffet from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
As an added highlight, Andrea said “Mike Davies, who’s a member of the band, who’s got long, rockin’ hair, is actually going to shave his head at the fundraiser (Davies also having run a GoFundMe page for cold caps), and there’ll be some pretty awesome prizes.”
Funds raised will be used to rent cold caps from ‘Arctic Cold Caps,’ the company from which Andrea rented her own cold caps.
The cost for renting the caps and kits, Andrea told us, is approximately $2,000.
“I’ve talked to the owner of Arctic Cold Caps and he’s going to give me a discount for everyone from the Sault who goes through me to rent cold caps. He’s giving us a 25 per cent discount. It’s about 500 dollars a month to rent cold cap equipment so it’s 125 bucks off each month. That’s tons,” Andrea said.
Tickets for the Saturday, May 25 cold cap fundraiser are $25 and may be purchased by contacting Andrea (Stone) Pietramale at 705-987-2413 or Laurie Alfano at 705-257-8275.
The event is also listed on The Machine Shop’s Facebook page.
Ticket sales have been “amazing” so far, Andrea said, estimating 500 have been sold with approximately another 200 still available.
“(Thanks to the cold caps) when I look in the mirror, I look and feel like myself and I don’t look or feel like a person who has cancer,” Andrea said.
“Cancer affects you in so many ways. You feel like you have no control over your body, so keeping my hair was one way that made me feel I had control over one thing.”