CANCER patients, volunteers and hospital staff are backing a new appeal to help prevent hair loss during chemotherapy.

The Focus Chemotherapy Suite Appeal has been launched to raise £150,000 to fund a new scalp cooling treatment unit in the Gloucestershire Oncology Centre.

Scalp cooling involves patients wearing a cold cap throughout their chemotherapy to limit blood flow to the head, which can then prevent certain cancer drugs from reaching the hair.

Jennie Williams, 39, from Gloucester, decided to try scalp cooling treatment after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in February last year.

The mum-of-two said: “I am never going to forget that moment when they told me I had breast cancer, I was absolutely devastated.

"After the initial diagnosis, one of the first things I said was ‘I don’t want to lose my hair’.

“I had scalp cooling during every one of my chemotherapy sessions.

"Keeping my hair has meant everything to me. I did it for my children, so I still looked like Mummy to them. To them, life has carried on as normal.

“Having a dedicated new area for scalp cooling will hopefully encourage more people to give it a go.”

Ali Williams, Focus Support Centre manager, said the new suite will help them cope with the increased demand for the treatment.

“One of the biggest barriers for someone starting cancer treatment is the fear of losing their hair. Giving patients an option to try something which might combat hair loss can be hugely empowering as it allows them to maintain their sense of identity,” she said.

“Scalp cooling has become really popular with both men and women and, as a result, we’ve launched a new appeal to help fund a dedicated suite for people having the treatment.

“It will allow people who are having scalp cooling to have their own space where they can be looked after and given the extra care and support they need.”

New volunteers have also been recruited and specially trained to care for patients having scalp cooling.

“We launched a campaign to recruit volunteers and we have been overwhelmed with the response,” she said.

“We have eight volunteers who have gone through the training to fit the scalp cooling caps. They help put people at ease, they make them cups of tea and this frees up the nurses’ time so they can focus on delivering the treatments.”

Nicola Day, 52, from Gloucester, is one of the new Focus scalp cooling volunteers.

“I decided to become a volunteer because I had breast cancer myself three years ago and I was helped by volunteers and so it is lovely to give something back,” she said.

“It will be great to have a new unit just for the patients having scalp cooling. They need a lot of extra time and extra care and to have them all in one place so we can really look after them will make such a difference."

The former Pamington Suite at Cheltenham General Hospital will be transformed into the new area where patients can have their caps fitted and receive treatment away from the main chemotherapy unit.

Dr Sean Elyan, consultant oncologist at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Patients and their carers deserve facilities that match the excellence of our dedicated staff.

“The money donated to help us develop the Pamington Suite will be the first of many steps to on the road to achieving this aspiration.

“We aim for three things in cancer care – world class treatment, wonderful staff and great facilities. We have the first two and with your help we will deliver the third.”

There are many ways to support the appeal:

• You can donate by visiting

• Raising money on Justgiving at

• Organising fundraising events at your local school, work or community group.

• Support transformational projects in the hospitals with a gift in your will.