Carly Mayberry can look in the mirror and still see herself.
The Brisbane 30-year-old has been able to keep 80 per cent of her hair after 12 weeks of chemotherapy thanks to scalp cooling treatment.
Ms Mayberry was working overseas when she discovered a 2cm lump in her breast and got the “extremely unexpected” diagnosis of triple positive breast cancer that had spread to her bones.
There is no history of breast cancer in her family, and Ms Mayberry tested negative for the breast cancer gene.
“You feel really overwhelmed with what’s going on,” she told news.com.au.
“For me, such a severe diagnosis meant my whole world was being undone.
“I had to relocate, change my support system and move to where the best treatment was available to me on the other side of the world.”
Ms Mayberry had heard about scalp cooling when she was diagnosed in London so made sure she asked about it when she returned to Australia for treatment.
“I was worried and stressed about losing my hair,” she said.
“When I came back to Australia it was something I researched and looked into and I asked for it to be part of my treatment.
“It’s not something that’s widely advertised or offered to you.”
Ms Mayberry was able to get access to the treatment as a public patient in the private system.
In the UK, more than 80 per cent of all day oncology centres have Paxman Scalp Cooling Systems and it’s become part of the standard of care.
Most other states in Australia have the system in their public system but Queensland is yet to catch on, with the treatment only available at 16 private facilities.
Patients have been travelling as far as Mackay to Brisbane to have it done.
For Ms Mayberry, the process meant she had to sit in a hospital chair for three hours, with the cooling happening before and after receiving chemo.
“I’m not wearing a wig or scarf, so it’s made a monumental difference in that I can keep my identity,” she said.
“That combats a lot of the psychological difficulties you have along the way. It helps with your physical and emotional wellbeing. It helps you get back to work and on your feet when you can look in the mirror and see yourself.”
Ms Mayberry said her head was cooled to 17C, and while the process was uncomfortable, it was worth it.
“The discomfort was worth the outcome,” she said.
“It allows me to maintain my confidence when I’m going outside. You don’t feel like a sick person. You aren’t treated differently.
“I would recommend it to anyone who’s going through a similar situation.”
Originally published as How this cancer patient kept her hair