First of all, let me start by saying that neither myself nor my mother knew the protocol when it came to receiving chemo treatments – we’d never anticipated having someone (multiple people actually) put together bags and baskets of things that might help during or post treatment. It is one of the nicest gestures people can do, saves the patient a trip to the stores to try to grab things while they’re still trying to recover from whatever procedure they may have had prior to being able to have treatment.
That being said, I thought it’d be helpful to share the items I’ve found most helpful to date. Keep in mind, I look like a bag lady when I walk in:
1. A Blanket – I have 2 blankets I take with me each time – one from Jodi, one from Anne. One I use to cover up with, the other I use to line my chair so it’s nice and comfy cozy. It’s chilly in the rooms, and although they have warm blankets, the warmth of the thin blankets only lasts so long. I’ve found putting the warm blanket on and then covering it with one of the blankets I brought with me keeps them warm longer. Plus, you want something that’s yours with you…if gives you a calming feel in a some times frightening environment.
2. Straw Cup – I’ve found that straws make it easier to get the amount of water down that you need to consume. My cup of choice, personal preference, is a teal Yeti – teal is the color for Ovarian Cancer awareness, my dad got it for me. I take the cup with me just about everywhere, including chemo and doctor’s appointments.
3. Lip Balm and Lotion – good lord my skin and lips are dry! It’s crazy, everything just gets sucked right up when I put it on. I have lip balm I keep in my coat pocket, purse, side tables, you name it, it’s there and handy for when I need them. I’m trying everything when it comes to lotion – I’m in the process of trying to determine what works best, jury is still out, I’ll get back to you.
4. Notebooks/Journals – Chemo brain is the real deal. I have holes in my memory about things throughout this process, I don’t remember it as vividly as I’d like. Some of it I probably don’t want to remember too vividly. However,it’s not like when they tell you, you won’t forget how bad child-birth is or you wouldn’t do it again – that is a TOTAL LIE! I remember both all too well, it was horrific – LOL!
Moving on..I use notebooks all day long. To keep track of numbers, appointments, to-do lists, blog ideas. I have several and I use each for a different thing.
5. Magazine Subscriptions/Books – Hadn’t thought about the magazine subscriptions until a co-worker sent them to me — excellent idea, Heather!! Some are your “don’t have to think” entertainment kind, others have more practical articles. The books are piling up, I thought I’d have more time to read, and plan to do so, but I get sidetracked and lose my focus. I thought I’d be able to get more done during chemo, but all concentration is gone about an hour in.
6. Adult Coloring Books/Colored Pencils – These are excellent for the above mentioned lack of concentration. It’s calming and makes the time go faster. Plus, who doesn’t like to color?!?!
7. Pocket-Sized Tissues – my nose is CONSTANTLY running! When my nose hairs fall out (maybe “if”, but I’ve been told it will happen), these will be with me at all times!
8. Night Caps – I had no idea how cold your head can get without having hair! It’s is crazy…although you see me bald out and about, I have a night-cap, baseball cap or stocking cap in my car that I put on upon getting in, or take off right as I get out.
9. Small bottles of Gatorade and Snack Size Foods – I take snacks and something to drink, usually Gatorade, with me to each treatment. Yes, I get about 3 bags of fluids why I’m there, but I try to drink 40 oz of water and at least one small bottle of Gatorade. Snack size foods are an easier portion size to manage as well…it’s not really an environment in which you want to eat a full-fledged meal, but healthy snacks/protein bars work perfectly!
Would love to hear what worked for you as well, leave your list of favorites in the comments for myself and others to see!