Cancer stuns us, often to the point it is hard to think straight, hard to turn off the thoughts, and especially hard to organize our thoughts (especially once the chemo fog rolls in). Suddenly, we are thrust into the life of a cancer patient – facing tests, appointments, treatment, so much that is new to us, and all at once. Last year, I was at my mother’s side at every step through her diagnosis and treatment for lymphoma, and I’m a lot wiser for the ware. I learned some really useful organizational strategies that were life-saving (both literally and figuratively). I learned what we needed and didn’t need to be fully prepared and thought I’d share my working list, in hopes we can help someone else skip the initial steep learning curve. It’s all in the bag.
- Tote bag – ideally with several compartments for organizing your supplies
- Identification and insurance cards
- Names, addresses, and phone numbers for referral physicians
- List of herbs, supplements, medications you are currently taking
- Notebook or tape recorder for recording medical instructions
- Daily planner or chemotherapy calendar (Don’t forget pens!)
- Small cooler or thermal snack pack
- Book and/or magazines
- Music – CD player, MP3 player, other
- Ipad or laptop
- Hand sanitizer
- Healthy snacks such as nuts, seeds, fruit, energy bars, trail mix, yogurt
- Water bottles with plenty of water, electrolytes, ginger tea
- Ice cubes – sucking on them can prevent mouth sores
- Warm socks or slippers
- Small pillow and blanket
- A friend or loved one
The first chemotherapy appointment can be an all-day affair, so be prepared. It’s recommended that you eat normally on treatment days, avoiding only those foods that are typically hard to digest or less than nourishing (deep fried foods, excessive quantities of meat, junk foods). It’s important to have a designated driver as some of the medications may make you drowsy, or you just may not be feeling so great.
For some great downloadable and printable resources, check out Guide2Chemo, where you can find a guide to supportive yoga poses that can help relieve stress and anxiety during chemotherapy, a chemo calendar, a medical paperwork checklist, and more.
Take a deep breath. It’s not nearly as bad as many people fear. At age 89, mom sailed through her treatment, and I was honored to be there by her side.
Susan Beausang, President, 4Women.com
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