John’s story – Hilotherm® ChemoCare allowed me to continue chemotherapy
John wasn’t expecting his chemotherapy to bring on excruciating numbness in his feet, a condition known as chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). He was therefore very relieved to access Hilotherm® ChemoCare, a cooling therapy only available in the UK at GenesisCare, which helped to slow the progression of his symptoms and allowed his chemotherapy treatment to continue.
It was a shock to hear if I didn’t try Hilotherm ChemoCare, my CIPN symptoms could get worse, meaning I’d have to stop chemotherapy or lose all sensation in my feet, possibly ending up in a wheelchair.
What is Hilotherm ChemoCare?
Hilotherm ChemoCare uses special equipment to cool the hands and feet before, during and after chemotherapy to 15 - 17°C. This reduces potential damage to the nerves and tissue in those areas, by slowing the blood flow and limiting how much chemotherapy can reach them, which minimises or prevents the progression of CIPN.
John’s story began in 2018, when he underwent radiotherapy and chemotherapy for prostate cancer which had spread to his spine. Despite this, having always been a keen sportsman he remained focused on maintaining his physical fitness and even managed to participate in three half marathons in Cardiff while raising funds for Prostate Cymru, a charity dedicated to prostate cancer. Unfortunately, in November 2022, John's PSA levels started to rise, indicating a recurrence of his prostate cancer. He was keen to use his private medical insurance so he could receive chemotherapy at home, but after completing his second cycle, he began to experience tingling and numbness in his feet, a symptom of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), which had a significant impact on his ability to sleep and complete everyday day tasks.
I started to experience tingling in the soles of my feet and across my toes. It felt like I had been sitting on my foot for too long and had a feeling of numbness. The sensation went up my calf when I was walking. When I was driving it was a challenge, I would lose the sensation in my foot and knowing how much pressure I was applying to the pedals – I was reluctant to drive more than 30 minutes.
Dr Jason Lester, John's consultant at GenesisCare in Bristol, was concerned about the progression of John's CIPN, and the possible consequences it could have on his mobility. Dr Lester therefore recommended Hilotherm ChemoCare, a hand and foot cooling therapy.
Dr Lester said “John was receiving docetaxel chemotherapy and experiencing tingling and painful, discomfort in his feet, indicating early signs of chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy. John is a business owner and because driving is essential for his work, I had apprehensions his symptoms could impair his ability in the long term. John’s diagnosis of metastatic cancer meant without chemotherapy; the condition would progress. Advising John to transfer his chemotherapy to GenesisCare, meant he was able to access a cooling therapy called Hilotherm ChemoCare, to minimise his symptoms from progressing and maintain his chemotherapy.”
Ensuring our patients are as comfortable as possible, can continue with their treatment, and ultimately improve their treatment outcomes is important to us. That’s why we’re the first UK cancer care provider to offer Hilotherm ChemoCare.
Transferring to GenesisCare was seamless for John
The process for John to transfer his care was easy and managed by GenesisCare. Within 1 week of referral, John arrived at GenesisCare in Bristol to meet with the team. John told us:
I felt a peace of mind at GenesisCare. The process was seamless and seeing other people receiving their chemotherapy gave me a feeling of camaraderie. You just smile or give a thumbs up, you don’t need to say anything because you just know, and they know.
Hilotherm ChemoCare is used alongside chemotherapy
John continues: "The Hilotherm boot was like putting on the inner layer of a ski boot, there are 2 blue pipes to carry the cooling fluid around the boot and there’s also mittens for your hands. The first session I kept my socks on and the next session I benefitted from wearing the boot with no socks because the idea is to get your feet as cool as possible. I felt the socks were providing an extra layer of insulation and it wasn’t needed as the temperature is manageable.
The first sensation you feel is the compression of the fluid pumping around the cuffs and boots, but for me there was no pain, and it doesn’t feel cold. You aren’t restricted - if my phone rang, I briefly took my hand out of a cuff or if I needed the toilet I could easily get in and out of the boots."
Hilotherm ChemoCare is a painless technique, where the cuffs and boots are kept on throughout the treatment, and as John discovered he was still able to use the toilet and answer phone calls.
Following completion of his chemotherapy, John was advised to continue cooling his hands and feet for 30-60 minutes to ensure he received the full benefits of minimising the progression of his chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) symptoms.
John’s tingling and numbness has not worsened, and he can continue chemotherapy
John has now completed 2 chemotherapy cycles using Hilotherm ChemoCare and plans to continue for his remaining 5 cycles. Using Hilotherm ChemoCare has prevented the tingling and numbness in John’s feet from getting worse, allowing him to continue driving, running his car dealership, and spending time with his family, without the worry of losing sensation in his feet.
To anyone who is considering Hilotherm, I wouldn’t give it a second thought. It’s not restrictive and there is nothing to worry about. It’s allowed me to continue with my chemotherapy treatment and once I finish, continue with my running. I’m going to be ringing the end of treatment bell very loud!
Contact us about Hilotherm ChemoCare
We’re here to help answer any questions about chemotherapy related side effects, or Hilotherm ChemoCare.