I’ve loved horses since I was ten years old. Today I am still lucky enough to have them in my life as I care for, train them, and compete. My favorite part is caring for them– I could muck stalls all day! I’ve also been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 8 years old. I am so thankful as how technology has come so far in treating it! I wear a pump and a continuous blood sugar monitor, and love having so much control.

In April I was diagnosed with Stage 1C clear cell ovarian cancer when a 1.2 cm cyst burst on my left ovary. After a full hysterectomy and staging all biopsies and washes came back benign, but because the cyst had burst, 6 cycles of chemotherapy was recommended.

I was still reeling from the shock of all that was happening, but knew I had to do the chemo. My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t get to see my 3-year old-daughter grow up–she had already been traumatized by Mama not being there one morning because she had a bellyache and had to go to the hospital. I just couldn’t put her through anymore-especially Mama’s curly hair like hers falling out.

My husband and I tried using a manual cold cap, but sadly were not cut out for the challenges. Securing dry ice the night before–as well as the gloves so that it can be handled safely–added to the process when we were already nervous enough about experiencing chemotherapy for the first time. The caps need to be started an hour before treatment begins and worn for an additional four hours after treatment.  My husband switched the cap out every 20 minutes–even pulling over on the side of the road to continue the process for nine hours.  We were completely exhausted, and I was sadly doubting I could continue for 17 more treatments.

Then, I found DigniCap–and a center close by that offered it. My nurses who put my cap on are amazing!  I am on cycle 4 of 6 in my chemo regimen and have kept all of my hair!

Chemo effects everyone differently. My best advice is to try to live your life as you did before your diagnosis. Keep your goals and dreams. You will most likely have to make some changes to accommodate your new normal but keep reaching. I have learned to rest when needed, drink lots of fluids that are good for me, and eat lots of protein and vegetables! Lastly, find a support system that works for you–one that makes you feel good and provides helpful information! I’ve joined some great support groups online! The ladies in these groups have been there and done that–they are the experts! I ask them questions and choose answers that work for me. There are many recommended supplements and techniques you can try to help with chemo side effects, and they are the greatest group of cheerleaders you will ever meet who are going through or have gone through similar experiences as you.

Keeping my hair has allowed me to choose who I wish to share my cancer journey with. I am doing great with my chemotherapy and have minimal side effects, but if I want to or feel I need to share my condition, I can choose the situation.

I am so thankful to DigniCap for helping me to remain in control of something that is important to me–and my daughter!

-Sharon Yapoujian, South Carolina