"I couldn't wait for it to grow back," she said.
Smith decided to use the DigniCap system, factoring in an out-of-pocket cost of $400 a treatment, not covered by insurance. In total, Smith said she paid $3,200 for 8 times using the treatment, but she finished chemotherapy keeping her hair.
"It's been worth it," she said.
Dignitana, which makes DigniCap devices, hopes to add more locations in North Carolina, said spokeswoman Melissa Bourestom.
"While scalp cooling does not yet have universal insurance coverage, we are working with third-party payers to change that and also work with patients directly to assist them in filing for reimbursement where available based on their insurance plan and coverage," she said.
To those who can't afford the system or similar devices, a national nonprofit, HairToStay, offers need-based grants to help patients pay some of the cost.
The maximum subsidy is usually about $1,000, according to the organization. Patients whose income is 300 percent of the federal poverty level, or $36,180 for an individual or $73,800 for a family of four, would qualify.
HairToStay offers subsidies for other cold cap treatments, including kits that can be shipped to patients: Arctic Cold Caps, Chemo Cold Caps, Penguin Cold Caps and Wishcaps.
Patients sometimes use online fundraisers to raise money for the treatments.
Charlotte also has services for women who lose their hair during chemotherapy, including Carolina Breast Friends, which offers services at 1607 E. Morehead St. at the Pink House.