Patients undergoing chemotherapy in Mount Isa won't have to lose their hair thanks to a generous donation made to Mount Isa Hospital's Cancer Care Unit.
North West residents can now access scalp cooling during their cancer treatment, with Mount Isa hospital being the first public hospital in Queensland to offer the hair-saving service to patients.
The donation was made possible by the fundraising efforts of recent breast cancer survivor, and Cloncurry local Jan Schneekloth, with a financial contribution by Glencore.
Jan said the idea to fundraise the $50,000 needed to donate the machine came after she lost her own hair from chemotherapy and decided she wanted to help other patients undertaking treatment.
"I knew there were quite a few people around my town of Cloncurry who have had cancer, and quite a few more who will get it, so I set out to get it to help other people who may need chemo in the future," she said.
"I just wrote out a few letters to people and businesses I knew to see if they would fund, and I had an overwhelming response, I couldn't believe it. Glencore donated half, and local Cloncurry businesses and community members donated the other half."
The Paxman scalp cooling machine has proven to retain hair in up to 70 per cent of eligible patients. Cooling the scalp before, during and after each chemotherapy treatment, reduces blood flow and chemotherapy delivery to hair follicles which are rapidly dividing cells - and therefore very susceptible to damage by chemotherapy.
The North West Hospital and Health Service Nurse Manager of the Cancer Care Unit, Nicole Williams, said the device was a big win for the region and that hair loss is often very traumatising for patients.
"This device is the only thing that works for chemotherapy induced alopecia," she said.
"The fact that we can offer this service for free in Mount Isa is incredible. This device is usually only available in private facilities in the larger cities.
"Most of my female patients have told me over the years that their hair loss has been just devastating, and how much it has affected them. Their hair loss makes it difficult to keep a cancer diagnosis private, so being able to keep your hair when you're sick can help patients retain some privacy and reduce the mental health impact of chemotherapy. Many women will feel less noticeable and this enables them to continue normal life as much as possible during treatment, without having to discuss their cancer diagnosis.
"I am extremely thankful to Glencore, Jan, and all who donated for allowing us to provide this service to the people in North West Queensland."
General Manager for Health, Safety, Environment and Community for Glencore's Mount Isa Mines, Maryann Wipaki said it was important for Glencore to contribute to local community projects that make a real difference in the lives of people who live in the North West.
"The Paxman Scalp Cooling machine provides a new service for improved patient outcomes for rural and remote chemotherapy patients," she said.
"This important piece of medical equipment hasn't been available in North West Queensland until now, so we're delighted to have been involved with the other partners to ensure our community has access to the same services as those provided in metropolitan areas."
The service will be offered to all newly diagnosed cancer patients who fit the medical criteria.
Other donations came from Brodie & Co, Quamby Rodeo Association, MDH Pty Ltd, Hacon & Sons Pty Ltd, Dowling Livestock & Property and OzeCool.
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