What To Bring To Chemo
Weve compiled a list of things that our own survivors as well as former cancer patients and health care professionals believe are must-haves to include in the chemo tote bag you bring to every treatment appointment. So grab your favorite tote bag and lets get packing! Heres what you need for the ultimate chemo care package!
Interacting With People Who Have Infections
Some chemotherapy treatments can increase the risk of infection.
There will be points during chemotherapy treatment cycles where a persons number of white blood cells is lower than usual. These cells are responsible for fighting infections.
During these times, it is important that a person minimizes their risk of infection. This includes avoiding contact with people that may have active infections.
Foods That Affect Cyp Enzymes
Cytochrome P450 enzymes are molecules that the metabolism and absorption of chemotherapy drugs into the blood.
Certain foods can
For this reason, a person should avoid activities that are mentally or physically taxing. This includes strenuous work or exercise.
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Temper Your Expectations Of Your Friends
I cover this briefly in a video on my youtube channel. Im not sure what you can make of my tears in the video, and its been a while since I re-watched it, but friends are going to let you down. Family is going to let you down. Going into treatment and your cancer diagnosis, I recommend tempering your expectations of who you think will pull through and be there for you. In most cases, the people you expect to be there for you are the ones who cant, and the people that you dont expect at all come out of the woodwork and bring their A game.
I find that this filtering of the friends who didnt stick around is a blessing in disguise, and Im actually pretty happy about learning these things sooner rather than later.
One part I really have trouble with when it comes to the friends department post-chemo, is remembering that its OK for friendships to fall through with friends who were there for you during treatment.
Important Tips For Packing Your Chemo Tote Bag
There are many uncertainties when it comes to chemotherapy treatment for cancer. Its impossible to know how long your treatment will take, anticipated wait time for labs and chemo, and how warm or cold the treatment room will be. We all know chemo isnt fun, but if you can think ahead and pack your chemotherapy tote bag with things that will make you feel more comfortable, then treatment will be easier for you. And every little bit helps!
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First Check In With Yourself
Hearing about a loved ones diagnosis can be shocking, heartbreaking, and everything in between. Whether they break the news in person or you hear it through the grapevine, give yourself space to process and acknowledge all emotions.
Its important to remember that there will be times when your loved one will not want to talk about their diagnosis. Consider taking a moment on your own to learn more about their condition, whether it be talking with a family member or doing some research.
Things I Wish Id Known Before Starting Chemo
If I could speak to my pre-chemo self, Id tell myself Im going to be absolutely fine. Of course, thats a lot easier said than done, and Id never have believed me.
Its a total understatement to say that being diagnosed with cancer in your 20s, or at any age for that matter, is a shock to the system. Im talking about the kind of shock where you cant even breathe. An out-of-body experience. Suddenly, your life goes from the 9-5 grind and Friday night G& Ts, to this whirlwind of scans, blood tests, hospital appointments, calls with surgeons and oncologists and geneticists, and before you know it you can barely remember what your life even was, pre-cancer. Its my first thought waking up in the morning, and my last thought before my head hits the pillow at night.
All I previously thought I knew about chemo was my very limited knowledge based on what Id seen on TV. You know the classic images hair falling out in clumps in the shower, the bald, frail person heaving over the toilet bowl, the hours spent crying, the crippling depression. And do not get me wrong all of those have been me. Chemo is brutal. But its not always doom and gloom. Ive been seriously unwell, my head is so shiny you could probably see your reflection in it, and Im officially at the point where I need to sit down just from walking up the stairs. But Im also able to eat relatively normally, Im still able to run when I can or walk when I feel up to it. I sleep enough. I still laugh. I cry. I love.
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I Wish Id Known To Stop Feeling Guilty For Not Being As Healthy Or Active As I Normally Am
I have managed to keep up regular dog walks and Ive even been able to run a few 5ks, plus some running workouts on my treadmill. But as the cycles go on, my fitness levels fall. My resting heart rate is so much higher than it used to be. Im shattered all the time, plus I cant stop eating crap. I kept comparing myself to normal healthy people who were managing a full-time job, workout routine, super healthy diet, and 8+ hours sleep a night and feeling like a complete failure, even though I literally didnt have the energy to get out of bed. Or Id see some of the superhuman cancer gals I follow doing 15k steps a day followed by an intense workout, and then feel even worse that I couldnt keep up. Take every day at its own pace. You literally have no reason to compare or feel guilty for what you can or cant do. Youve got to listen to your body. Let her rest and recuperate.
Plan For Life After Cancer
Once treatment ends, you are entering a totally new normal. Life as you knew it will be very much different. You probably will have different outlooks, you may be dealing with PTSD, and you will not feel like yourself. No one mentioned this to me when I was diagnosed, or started treatment.
Prepare for this. Set goals for some things you want to accomplish post-cancer. Changing your career path? Thats okay. I did, too!
Preparing for chemo wont make it go away, but youll be ready for it. And thats half the battle!
Note: Lymphoma News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those ofLymphoma News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lymphoma.
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You Are In My Thoughts And Prayers
Hearing that your wellbeing is on someones mind can be a great comfort, and the act of praying may be very peaceful for you as well. If you or your loved one arent religious, its still helpful to hear someone is sending you good vibes daily.
My BFF has been fighting cancer for two years & I mail a card each week with uplifting sentiments. I remind her how much she means to me & how proud I am of her strength& faith. I always tell her Im praying for her journey.
What To Do While Receiving Chemotherapy And Precautions To Take
There are also things that a person can do while undergoing chemotherapy to mitigate the side effects of treatment.
To help mitigate fatigue, which is one of the common side effects of chemotherapy, a person should consider:
- Having someone drive them to and from their chemotherapy appointments.
- Requesting reduced hours at work.
- Organizing childcare for the day of and the day after a chemotherapy appointment.
- Setting time aside to rest the day of and after a chemotherapy appointment.
A person can minimize the risk of getting infections during chemotherapy by:
- Washing their hands thoroughly with soap and warm water, especially after using the bathroom and before and after eating.
- Carrying a bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoiding large crowds and wear a mask if needed.
- Getting a flu shot before winter.
A side effect of chemotherapy is loss of appetite and sensitivity to certain types of food and drink. A person can take the following precautions to mitigate these side effects:
- Thoroughly scrubbing and washing all raw fruits and vegetables.
- Drinking at least 8-12 cups of liquid every day to prevent dehydration.
- Going on short walks every day to stay active, as this may increase appetite.
- Focusing on eating a lot of protein and calories to maintain strength.
- Washing all kitchen utensils and countertops before and after use.
- Cooking all food to a sufficient temperature.
- Eating a higher number of smaller meals, rather than three large meals a day.
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Good Things To Say To Someone With Cancer
CaringBridge Staff | 06.16.22
When a friend or family member is diagnosed with cancer, its hard to know what to say or do. Sadly, this sometimes translates into saying nothing at all.
Every relationship is different, so there are no set requirements for how to talk to someone with cancer. But, there are steps you can take to allow conversations to go smoothly while showing your love and support.
Offer To Help With Daily Tasks
It may be difficult for your friend to ask for help, but Cammarata and Blackler say that some of the most beneficial things you can do are to offer to assist with everyday errands, like grocery shopping, babysitting, picking the kids up from school, or doing laundry. Cammarata suggests making a list of tasks youre willing to do and asking your friend where you can help.
If youre going out to the store for your own family, give your friend a call and see if theres anything else you can pick up, Blackler says.
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Listen To Your Body/report To Your Doctor
This a big one for me. I say this to my friends who dont even have cancer. You should always be listening to your body. Our bodies are designed to fight for us, and they will always speak up when something isnt right. We just have to listen close enough.
Listening to your body becomes very important because the chemo will affect our bodies in ways that weve never experienced. For me, most chemo weeks came with their own set of side effects.
Chest pain was the big one for me, which eventually led to being diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism But because I listened to my body , I was able to catch the embolism in time.
*I found it helpful to keep a journal or note of each chemo weeks side effects and then send them to my doctor, or sharing the list with him at my next appointment.
Items You Should Take With You To Chemo:
1. A good attitude You dont want to be in this situation, but heres the thing, you are. You need to have a good attitude. I know its hard, but try.
2. Layers of comfy clothing The room will probably be very cold, kind of like an airplane . Even if its summer time, make sure you bring a sweater or jacket. The chemo can change your body temperature, so being able to shed a layer or put one on is helpful. Warm blankets will be offered and I highly recommend getting one, or many.
3. Warm socks I always took my shoes off, snuggled under the warm blankets the hospital provided and put on cozy socks. Wear shoes you can slide into easily in case you have to go to the bathroom, which you will probably need to do. During chemo, a ton of liquids are pumped into your body and theyre going to have to come out eventually.
4. Something to keep you busy Take your journal, knitting, crocheting, adult coloring books, crossword puzzles, reading material or whatever else inspires you or holds your attention. The key is to try to distract yourself. Do not focus on any of the side effects. The nurses will watch you closely, and should you have a reaction, which probably wont happen, theyll know exactly what to do. If you start to feel strange or something seems off, dont hesitate to tell your nurse, but dont sit in the chair and worry.
5. Chapstick Or something to put on your lips.
Take items to chemo to help you relax.
9. Mints Or hard candy, especially peppermint.
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From Lemon Juice To Plastic Forks: Quick Tricks To Deal With Cancer Treatment Side Effects
When Dr. Carla Kakutani was in the thick of her first go-round of chemotherapy, it was a struggle to figure out her daily meals. She was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer two years ago and her doctors started her on a chemo regimen with some brutal side effects.
Kakutani, a primary care doctor in Winters, California, developed oral thrush, which made her mouth so sensitive that she had a hard time eating anything with texture, and the things she could eat tasted totally different.
âI love food so this was definitely the hardest part of treatment for me,â Kakutani said. âEverything just tasted like cardboard. Sawdust.â
After trying out different foods that hurt too much to eat or didnât appeal to her temporarily scrambled taste buds , Kakutani found she could stomach cereal or graham crackers soaked in milk until they were soft and mushy.
âIt was kind of comforting, like a little kid food,â she said.
Many people with cancer, such as Kakutani, have had to come up with their own tried-and-true ways to combat cancer treatmentsâ common and difficult side effects like âchemo mouth,â nausea, fatigue, neuropathy and more.
Did You See The Latest Episode
This isnt a specific sayingits a reminder to talk about something else other than cancer. Cancer patients spend plenty of time discussing treatment, symptoms and prognosis. Your loved one will appreciate those who can find something brighter to talk about. Whatever the topic, getting their mind off their illness will be refreshing.
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Three Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before Lymphoma
It’s amazing, the memories that stick with you. The moments in your life that seem to crystallize as you remember a particular day so real that it could have been yesterday or 11 years ago. Regardless of the passage of time, there’s a memory, a story that you will always be able to tell with clarity and detail. Even with your wonky chemo brain.
I had surgery to remove some lymph nodes on Wednesday, May 4, 2011. These lymph nodes in my neck had been bothering me since October 2010. I had done all the tests: blood tests, ultrasounds, CT scans, and a fine needle biopsy. All the tests came up negative with nothing out of the ordinary. Since the lymph nodes were still bothering me in April, my ENT doctor suggested that I have them surgically removed. So, I had surgery on May 4th. I was sitting in the recovery room and the doctor came in to tell me how the surgery went. He said that everything was fine and they were sending the nodes out for routine biopsy. I remember being concerned when he said that, but he told me it was nothing to worry about. So I traveled home to rest and recover.
My first call was to my husband. I didn’t know how to break the news. He answered from the restaurant where he was grabbing lunch, and I just broke down. I managed to get out that Dr. Smith had called to tell me I had cancer and that he needed to come home.
I Wish Id Known To Connect With The Cancer Community As Soon As Possible
The cancer community is the most incredible community I never knew existed. I have virtually met the most amazing, generous, and helpful group of young women also battling with breast and other cancers. Their strength and positivity inspire me to keep going every single day, and although weve found each other under the shittest of circumstances, Im really thankful to have found them. So, reach out dont be shy. These people will be your go-to gals for any issues or questions, even the weird or embarrassing ones. They understand more than anyone else.
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Support Caregivers And Other Family Members Too
People are so focused on the patients and how theyre doing that they forget to ask caregivers how theyre doing, Blackler says. Caregivers are stressed out. Theyre trying to juggle their existing roles and take over new responsibilities that the person whos sick used to do.
You can offer to help by babysitting the kids for a night or driving them to soccer practice. Or perhaps helping out just means sitting in the hospital room while the caregiver steps out for a cup of coffee.