How You Can Help Cancer Patients And The Cool Head Project in CNY

Bridge Street

When Central New York native Liz Formoza was re-diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, her greatest concern was keeping things normal for her family. Her quest to make that happen lead her to something called “scalp cooling,” which is a treatment to prevent chemotherapy-induced hair loss.

Liz was able to keep her hair and maintain some normalcy as she battled cancer and fought to bring the treatment to Syracuse today. With the help of the Upstate Cancer Center, patients in treatment can now also benefit from the scalp cooling system. Liz passed away from Stage 4 breast cancer in 2020 but her legacy to help others ‘keep cool” lives on through the state of the art treatment happening here in CNY.

Today, Liz’s family and friends are continuing her legacy with “The Cool Head Project” and Doctors Ranjna Sharm and Abirami Sivapiragasam of Upstate Medical University both say that the treatment made possible by the Upstate Cancer Center have already made a difference.

“We are so excited to be able to offer this opportunity to our patients here in New York,” Dr. Sharma says. “It allows the patient to keep some of their hair during chemotherapy treatments and this in turn can affect their self confidence and image and quality of life, so it’s very important to be able to offer it to patients that are candidates for it.”

Upstate Cancer Center is making it available to others, however, scalp cooling is not yet covered by all insurance plans and can be expensive. With that in mind, The Cool Head Project Fund through the Upstate Foundation has been created to help off-set the cost and make this available to more patients. Dr. Siva adds that the ability to be able to offer a treatment like this can also be instrumental in life-saving treatment too.

“I have seen patients refuse to go through chemotherapy because they don’t want to lose their hair or anyone to notice, so it has been a big challenge to undergo this type of treatment,” she says. “But having this option has opened many doors for our patients. The success rates are pretty good and a lot of the challenges we have dealt with we are able to overcome by this technique.”

To help continue research and fundraising efforts for the Cool Sculpt technology, the Cool Head Project is hosting a special night of entertainment on October 15th from 6 to 8 p.m. You’re invited to attend the event at The Rail Line in Syracuse, located at 530 S. Clinton Street in Armory Square. To purchase tickets and to learn more, visit TheCoolHead Project.org/Events.

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