Patient tips My seven must-have items for chemotherapy

My seven must-have items for chemotherapy

Karyn C. underwent 16 rounds of chemotherapy, followed by a bilateral mastectomy and radiation therapy. Here, she shares what she took with her to make her chemo days as comfortable as possible.

  1. Comfy clothes. I am very blessed and had lots of cozy gifts sent to me during my treatments, and I was able to actively use them. After my first infusion visit, I realized I needed to be in leggings instead of jeans—so it became a "thing" for me to surprise my doctor and nurses with a new set of leggings every week! It was really fun (and comfy)! I also brought a "blanket of the week," as well as cozy slipper socks, which I changed into from my street shoes the moment I sat down in the recliner. And, of course, I couldn't forget my hat to keep my bald head warm! I had my treatment during the winter months, so this worked out perfectly for me. Wrapping up in all this stuff from my family and friends made me feel like I was getting a big hug during every treatment. I carried all my must-have goodies in a big tote bag. Bonus: I was all cozy if I decided all I wanted to do was nap.
  2. Phone and/or laptop (and chargers!). My first infusion happened on Amazon Prime Day (Hubby threatened to take my phone away!). Being able to spend some time browsing and shopping was excellent "retail therapy" and distraction. On other days, I found it was a good time to focus and just get some household stuff done—pay the bills, put in my grocery pickup orders, etc. I was just sitting there anyway, so I figured I may as well be productive.
  3. Access to social media sites. I had friends sending me love and good wishes on WhatsApp and CaringBridge. I had one girlfriend who made me join Instagram so she could send me funny memes and cute puppy pictures and videos. I would save up her content all week and wait to look at it while I was getting my chemo. Sometimes, I'd be laughing so hard, I'd be crying! I'm sure the other patients thought I was nuts, but that real-time connection to the people I love was the best.
  4. A book or tablet. There's nothing like losing yourself in a story to entertain you while you wait for the infusion treatment to run its course. Poll your friends and family for reading recommendations. Whether you’re after a good murder-mystery or a nonfiction pick, you’re likely to find some new-to-you options! Pro tip: Your local library may offer digital access for tablet reading.
  5. Extra beverages. My two must-have drinks during treatment were cinnamon tea and fun-flavored bubbly waters. I loved having a variety in my bag to pick from—plus, they helped me stay hydrated during treatment.
  6. All the snacks. You’re going to be there for a few hours, so if you aren't following a fasting regimen like I did, you're going to want healthy snacks. Talk to your care team about snacks that won't exacerbate side effects you may be experiencing. These will be different for different people, and you may have to experiment with snacks that don’t make you feel nauseous. Think of it as a fun way to test out some new flavors and brands.
  7. And last, but certainly not least—the hubby! He sat beside me the whole time, cheering me on when I needed it and distracting me, too! We created the plans to build our pool while we were sitting there (no, it's still not done), picked out colors, looked at furniture for our new house online, made grocery lists—and he got me toasty blankets when I needed them! He was the best thing of all to bring with me.

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