Cancer patient touts new chemo-related treatment option

Published on Friday, 27 April 2018 16:55
Written by Skyler Frazer


NEW BRITAIN – With just two weeks until the Connecticut Breast Health Initiative’s Race in the Park event, organizers are gearing up for another successful year of fundraising.

Race in the Park is CT BHI’s flagship event. The annual fundraiser helps the organization fulfill its mission to raise money for breast cancer research and awareness efforts. CT BHI has awarded more than $3.6 million to researchers and educators in the state since it began making donations in 2005, and this money has gone to fund important, innovative programs and treatment options.

One of these new treatment options is the DigniCap Cold Cap used at UConn Health’s Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center. Here’s one story about how this funding has helped someone fight back against breast cancer and chemotherapy.

At just 42 years old, Marisa Dolce was diagnosed with breast cancer last summer. The diagnosis was surprising, as Dolce’s annual 3D mammogram came back clear.

“I couldn’t feel a lump at all. I am so glad I didn’t skip my annual breast cancer screening,” Dolce recalled.

Following her diagnosis, Dolce underwent breast surgery. After the surgery, Dolce was set to undergo chemotherapy and radiation at UConn Health. But Dolce was hesitant.

“I really was hoping to keep my hair,” Dolce said of the fear of chemotherapy side effects.

Thankfully, UConn Health had recently unveiled a new optional treatment for chemotherapy patients that potentially help patients keep their hair. Dolce became UConn Health’s first patient to use the DigniCap Cold Cap treatment.

The treatment uses a computerized cooling cap system to circulate cooled liquid through a tight-fitting silicone cap. The cooling therapy worked to limit chemotherapy’s side effects by constricting the scalp’s blood vessels, which limits the drug’s reach to the hair follicles and also slows the rate of hair cell division.

“As I was leaving my first cooling cap treatment there was a huge rainbow in the sky right above UConn Health,” Dolce said. “I knew that was a good sign!”

Ultimately, the treatment helped Dolce keep 70 percent of her hair.

“I did have some shedding from the chemo but still was able to keep the majority of my hair,” Dolce said. “It really helped me feel better about myself while undergoing cancer care.”

Dr. Susan Tannenbaum, Dolce’s oncologist, said she couldn’t be happier to offer her breast cancer patients like Dolce this new treatment option.

“Chemotherapy-induced temporary hair loss is one of the most common and stressful side effects breast cancer patients experience,” Tannenbaum said. “Anything we can do to limit a woman’s distress while she undergoes breast cancer care is essential for the patient’s overall holistic health.”

Joyce Bray, president and founder of CT BHI, is happy her organization’s funding helps these programs come to fruition.

“The fact that the cold cap technology can give hope and lessen fears among survivors, adding to their overall well being, is phenomenal and rewarding to CTBHI, families and friends.”

This year’s renewal of the Race in the Park is scheduled for Saturday, May 12. The organization’s flagship event draws runners from all over the country to Walnut Hill Park on the Saturday before Mother’s Day. This year is the 15th anniversary of the first Race in the Park and organizers are expecting more than 4,000 participants.

Tickets for CT BHI’s Race in the Park are $30 for adults or $15 for children. People can register as individuals or as a team. To register for the event, and find schedule information, go to .

Skyler Frazer can be reached at 860-801-5087 or by email at

Posted in New Britain Herald, General News on Friday, 27 April 2018 16:55. Updated: Friday, 27 April 2018 16:57.