Susan's Story

Susan's sister Deb on a typical treatment day doing Cold Cap Therapy.

Using Penguin Cold Caps is personal to Susan because in January of 2010, her youngest sister Deb was diagnosed with a non-smoking lung cancer. Deb learned that she needed to undergo chemotherapy after having surgery that removed the lower lobe of her left lung to limit the chances of cancer recurrence. Anticipating the loss of her hair, Deb immediately thought she would purchase a wig from Locks of Love – the cost, over $2,000. One evening during her recovery from lung surgery, Deb watched a Channel 5 news report featuring Shirley Billigmeier who, at the time, was almost through with chemotherapy and was having great success keeping the majority of her hair. Deb began to investigate and research, ultimately connecting with Frank Fronda, the scientist who invented the Penguin Cold Caps that have been widely used in Europe for almost 20 years.

See the Penguin Cold Cap Website by clicking here:


When Deb learned that it would be possible to rent the caps and potentially save most of her hair, she approached her oncologist. He was supportive if she wanted to try Cold Cap Therapy, but told her up front that his main concern was to save her life, and wasn’t sure the cooling system even worked. The biggest obstacle however, appeared to be that the caps needed to be used at around -30 Celsius, a temperature that normal household freezers never reach. The alternative to having a suitable freezer would be to cool the caps with dry ice. Although Deb would have been willing to do this, she was excited to learn that Shirley Billigmeier (from the Channel 5 news report she had earlier watched) and her friends had raised enough money to buy the much needed scientific bio-medical freezer for her oncology clinic. Thanks to Shirley's fund raising efforts a freezer was installed at Debs oncology center just before she began chemotherapy. Today, Shirley continues to raise money for placing biomedical freezers in oncology centers throughout the United States.

See the Rapunzel Project website by clicking here:


Deb recognized now that she had an amazing opportunity to save most of her hair. Deb invited her sister Susan, along with her other 2 sisters, son, and husband to become her “Care Team” during chemotherapy. With helpful team training to learn exactly how to administer Cold Cap Therapy, Deb also worked through the rental process with the Penguin Cold Cap office in London. In the end, chemo treatments were given with the caps at the correct controlled temperature and Deb’s Care Team monitored every detail. Deb’s care team provided an emotionally supportive atmosphere at the infusion center at every chemo treatment. (Susan...)“We all took turns on chemo day changing out the caps and we had fun laughing, telling stories, and reading magazines. The 7-8 hours of time needed at each treatment passed by unbelievably quick! As for my sister Deb, well, she shed about 45% of her hair but no one could tell her hair was thinner except for her. The 45% loss had no bald patches, and there was no need of a wig. Deb also kept her eyebrows and eyelashes! She looked fantastic!”

Today, Susan is inspired to help make the process of saving one’s hair a journey that is easier than ever for cancer patients. Susan walks hand-in-hand with clients guiding them during this difficult time in their lives. “Through my business, Cold Cap Therapy Midwest, I’ve listened carefully to many women and men on their cancer journey. I’m noticing a pattern with the clients I am working with. These amazing pioneering women & men are connected to their emotional health as well as their physical health. They want dignity through their journey of cancer and definitely don’t want to look sick. These clients want to have a rich, personal & professional life without everyone knowing they are being treated for cancer unless they choose to tell them. In my book they are courageous in a field that has yet to be discovered.”

The experience with Susan’s sister using Cold Cap Therapy motivated her to want to help make the journey easier and more hopeful for future cancer patients. “When someone is in emotional pain and already dealing with a lot on her plate, having someone like me come along side to help with the process gives confidence, can be successful, and this scalp cooling process can be priceless!”