Before you start chemotherapy, make sure you have the right items on hand so the experience is more comfortable – during and after treatments. Here’s a list of 15 essentials.
Infusion Day: What To Bring
· A button-down or V-neck shirt. Patients receiving chemotherapy via infusion might have a chest port placed just under the collarbone where the medicine enters your body through a tube. To help the staff quickly and easily hook up the port, wear a V-neck, button down or loose-fitting shirt on treatment days.
· A support buddy. Have someone drive you to and from your appointment in case you’re tired or not feeling well post-treatment. It also helps emotionally to have a cheerleader along, bringing a positive attitude, willingness to help and a welcome distraction.
· The comforts of home. While treatment facilities usually provide a blanket for you to use, nothing beats a nice, fuzzy blanket from home to keep you warm. The same goes for a favorite fluffy pillow instead of a hospital-issued one. Also consider a pair of slippers or fluffy slipper socks with grip soles.
· Entertainment. Most facilities have a TV, but if you want to watch something different during your treatment, consider downloading shows or movies to a tablet or your smartphone. Other ideas to help pass the time: puzzle books like word jumbles or Sudoku, a journal, adult coloring books, music or podcasts (don’t forget earphones), or reading material.
Chemo Symptoms: These Can Help
· Anti-diarrhea medication. Chemotherapy can cause diarrhea, so it helps to have something on hand, like Imodium, to alleviate this side effect.
· Ginger tea or candy. Chemotherapy can affect your sense of taste, making some people nauseous. Known for its tummy-soothing properties, ginger tea or candy can help ease nausea symptoms.
· Mints or sour candy. When ginger doesn’t do the trick, sometimes a more potent taste — like strong mints or sour candy — will help.
· Plastic utensils. Some people experience a metallic taste in their mouths because of chemotherapy. Using plastic spoons and forks during meals and snack times helps eliminate this unpleasant taste.
· Pain relievers. Keep ibuprofen or acetaminophen on hand for headaches or body aches that might accompany treatment.
The Days After: Home Comfort
· Props for comfort. Some patients who have had breast cancer surgery as part of their treatment find that it helps to place small pillows under their arms at home. This can ease the effects of edema and other swelling by keeping your arms slightly elevated.
· Clothes designed for your needs. If you’ve had a mastectomy, you’ll have drain tubes put in to collect any fluid that leaks from the surgical area. You can find clothes designed specifically for this, with small pockets that help corral the tubes. You can also buy these pockets separately and clip them on the inside of clothing you already have.
· Head coverings. One of the common side effects of chemotherapy is hair loss, so stock up on a few items to cover your head and keep it warm. Depending on your style preference, this can include hats, beanies, wigs, hoodies or scarves.
· Makeup and moisturizer. Your skin color or texture might change due to chemotherapy, and you might lose your eyebrows and eyelashes. Take a photo of your face before treatment to use as a guide if you want to apply eyebrows with makeup. Read up on some specially designed tips and tricks to make you feel more like yourself.
· Heated blanket. A heated blanket or small heating pad can keep you warm.
· Entertainment. Streaming movies or audiobooks via subscription services like Netflix or Audible will keep you entertained and distracted if you don’t have the energy to read.
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