Making Chemo Caps

Tips from the Trenches

Reprinted with permission from Heritage Spinning & Weaving’s weekly newsletter, 8/08.

Maureen has been talking about writing an article for us about making chemo caps for months. Unfortunately, she’s been going through a rough couple rounds of chemo so hasn’t had the energy or focus to put her thoughts down on paper. So, I thought I’d help her out and do an interview instead.

Joan: How do cancer patients get chemo caps?

Maureen: Where I go for treatment at U-M, they are in the infusion rooms where patients go for their chemo treatments. The room tends to be a little chilly and because the meds they are delivering by IV are also below body temperature, it turns out to be a good place to have the donated caps, blankets and other comfort items.

J: You’ve gone through two rounds of hair loss so I suspect we can consider you an expert on what the perfect chemo cap looks like.

M: I suppose you could say that! I can think of more fun things to be an expert on, though!

J: So, what is the single most important thing to you when it comes to a chemo cap?

M: The feel of it. It has to be soft. It actually hurts when your hair falls out and afterwards your head is sensitive for a long time.

J: Does it matter if it is machine washable or not?

M: No. It doesn’t. They don’t get that dirty and I rarely wash mine. It is more important to be soft.

J: What about how it looks?

M: Okay, so that’s pretty important, too. It has to be soft and attractive. I feel bad enough without hair, so the hat has to make me feel good.

J: Anything else you should think about when planning to make a chemo cap?

M: Remember, chemo patients are also men, boys and children. You can have more fun with the caps for kids –cute and funky is okay, but they still need to be soft and it is probably also more important that they be machine washable.

J: Would you describe your favorite hat for us?

M: Well, I have a several. The one I am currently wearing a lot is one I crocheted for myself. It is a summer hat made from cotton and it incorporates beads. It is a pattern from the book Crocheted Hats. One of my favorite winter hats is one that I knit from cashmere I hand-painted myself. Lately I’ve been wearing a fabric sun hat with a little brim that adds protection when I’m outside.

J: Care to summarize?

M: The perfect chemo cap has to be attractive (ask yourself if you’d wear the cap), soft (no inexpensive acrylics, please), and labeled with care and fiber content. In my opinion it is much better to spend extra money and time on making fewer chemo caps to donate to charity than it is to make a whole bunch that will just languish in the bottom of the hat box at the distribution center.

J: Thanks, Maureen. I know what you have said will provide a lot of food for thought to knitters, crocheters, weavers and sewers and make a difference for other cancer patients.