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Published on August 31, 2021

Soirée on the Bay raising money for a system to save patients hair during chemo

Soirée on the Bay Committee

If cancer patients can undergo chemotherapy without losing their hair, it can alleviate some of the stress that goes along with the disease, said Cape Cod Hospital Hematologist/Oncologist Edward J. Wyluda, DO. That’s why this year’s annual fundraiser Soirée On the Bay is raising money for, in addition to two other causes for cancer patients, helping patients access a special scalp-cooling system that helps decrease hair loss in patients.

“It's hard enough dealing with a diagnosis of cancer regardless of what stage or what type, but then going through treatment, dealing with side effects, and then possibly having your appearance change to some degree – it's a lot,” Dr. Wyluda said.

The Scalp cooling system uses a cap with cold liquid (approximately 32 degrees F) circulating through it. The chill causes a constriction of blood vessels that decreases the delivery of chemotherapy to hair follicles, which helps decrease hair loss for many patients.

Forty donations of $50 each to this year’s Soirée fundraiser will pay for one patient to receive the scalp-cooling treatment. The system is new to Cape Cod Hospital’s Davenport-Mugar Cancer Center and will be available to patients beginning at the end of September. 

For nearly 20 years, the Soirée On the Bay Committee, a group of Cape Cod volunteers, has raised money for cancer research and treatment. Last year the fundraising dinner was postponed and they saved the spirit of the event by honoring all Cape Cod Healthcare employees as their 2020 Soirée on the Bay Honorees.

This year, the committee is back saving the spirit of the fundraiser with a new giving campaign. While they decided to postpone the in-person dinner celebration for another year, they're asking the public to donate to the cause to help local cancer patients.

In addition to the scalp-cooling treatments, the committee has identified two other areas of fundraising:

• 52 donations of $25 to Alice's Classroom at Cape Cod Hospital’s Davenport-Mugar Cancer Center will pay for 200 breast cancer treatment handbooks.

• 32 donations of $25 will provide four patients with Stop & Shop gift cards that can be used for gasoline or food.

“It was a disappointment for us to cancel, but we'll be back next year stronger than ever,” said committee member Susan Ellis. “This year we're keeping the spirit of the Soirée alive by finding a different way for people to help.” Soiree on the Bay

The scalp-cooling system will make a big difference for many patients, said Dr. Wyluda, who practices at Davenport-Mugar Cancer Center.

“It depends on the chemotherapy regimen and the type of disease we're treating, but for some patients there can be significant hair loss,” he said. “It’s a constant reminder that they have cancer.”

The hospital has not had any type of treatment before to help mitigate hair loss, and scalp cooling seems to be a promising procedure, he said.

“We can't guarantee that patients won’t have hair loss, but we've seen data that it could significantly decrease the amount of hair loss.”

When physicians at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston used scalp cooling for patients being treated with the chemotherapy drug taxol herceptin, about 90 percent of patients kept their hair, according to Dr. Wyluda.

“Patients are under so much stress and anxiety with a diagnosis of cancer. If we can help to decrease that anxiety and stress even just a little bit, it's a huge win. If this is something that will help patients, then I'm all for it.”

Make an online donation or learn more about the mission of the Soiree on the Bay committee.

Front Row Photo: Alice O'Neill, Barbara Ellis

Back Row Photo: Susan Ellis, Sharon Kennedy, Melissa Marchand