Behind the Breakthroughs
The Your Stories Podcast

Hear candid conversations between people conquering cancer – patients, their family and friends, and doctors and researchers working to help us all.

Claire Paxman and Sue Paxman
Behind the Breakthroughs
Cool Your Head
When Sue Paxman, a young mother of four, was in treatment for breast cancer, she was especially bothered when she lost her long, curly hair. Her children, Claire and Rich, discuss how their mom and her experiences inspire their family’s work in scalp cooling.

Losing It 

It’s one of the worst things Claire Paxman can recall: She’s 14, using orange-handled kitchen scissors to cut her mother’s hair. 


“You shouldn’t be standing in the bathroom cutting your mom’s hair because of chemotherapy,” says Claire of that defining childhood moment and the first time she saw her mother cry. “I should have been shopping with her or teenage arguing with her.”

Though hair loss is a common chemotherapy side-effect, the visible sign of cancer treatment is often the most dreaded by patients. 

How Does Scalp Cooling Work?

To help patients keep their hair during chemo treatments, the Paxmans created a scalp cooling device to restrict the amount of blood flow and chemotherapy that reaches a patient’s hair follicles.

 
“What happens is, we cool the scalp of the patient for about 30 minutes before the chemotherapy infusion, during the chemotherapy infusion, and on average 90 minutes after, depending on the type of chemotherapy,” explains Rich.  

As the Paxmans discovered with their mom and have learned from others, patients have personal and unique motivations to keep their hair.

 
“We know about people who've got parents with Alzheimer's, dementia and they don't want them to not recognize them,” says Claire.

“Just tens and tens of thousands of individual reasons why people want to keep their hair,” adds Rich, “and the last one is vanity.”
 

Your Stories
Remembering Mum

In this episode, a brother and sister honor their late mother through action and innovation.
 

What we do every day makes it a little bit easier, knowing that we’re helping people.
Rich Paxman