Chemotherapy patients at Torbay Hospital now have a greater chance of avoiding hair loss thanks to fundraisers, including Dartmouth’s Joy Howick.

A thank you cream tea was held on Ricky Grant Day Unit for Joy and other fundraisers who raised the funds needed to purchase two new scalp cooling machines.

Each machine costs £10,000, with further costs for maintenance and training. Joy raised £10,000, including £2000 from Dartmouth Rotary Club and £1000 from Leonards Cove Campsite.

The Paxman cold cap units work by reducing the temperature of the scalp by a few degrees immediately before, during and after the administration of chemotherapy. This reduces blood flow to hair follicles, which can prevent or minimise hair loss.

Joy was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2021 following a routine mammogram, and had chemotherapy over five months.

She added: “I’d heard that your scalp can be sore after rapid hair loss and that this can affect sleep. As tiredness increases the risk of infection, I decided to use the cold cap. I also felt that retaining my hair would improve my psychological health. Hair loss is unpredictable, even with the cold cap, but it improves the chances of keeping your hair.

“The team at Ricky Grant is brilliant and really looked after us. It is a very personal choice whether to use the cold cap machine but for me it was an additional distraction that helped, and really helped prevent my hair loss. Chemo is tough but it is manageable.”

The cold cap machines were installed in every NHS hospital via a one-off donation but with the agreement that the individual NHS trusts would pay for replacement machines.

Joy added: “But hard times in the NHS meant this was not always possible so the amazing staff at Torbay took up the challenge to raise this money to replace the two machines that have improved technology, much easier to use, and more comfortable for patients.”

Pictured: Joy Howick (in white dress) with Dartmouth Rotarians Bernard Young and Hilary Bastone and staff from the Ricky Grant Unit