The Chemo 'Tip List' I Wish I Had When I Was Going Through Cancer Treatment
Table of Contents
- Connecting with the Cancer Community
- Shopping for Chemowear
- Preparing for Skin Changes
- Taking Charge of Hair Loss
- Being Curious About Weird Body Changes
- Organizing Help
- Putting on a Little Lipstick
- Getting to Know Your Care Team
- Packing Your Chemo Bag
- Pampering Yourself
The cancer community is a beautiful and enormous group of people who have been touched by cancer in one way or another. They are the most generous and helpful souls you'll ever meet, and they will become your lifeline. Reach out and get on the social graph. There is nothing you'll go through that someone out there hasn't experienced. And as you get further along in your treatment, you'll be able to give back to this community and help others going through the same experience.
2. Connecting with the Cancer Community
Chemotherapy can leave you feeling less than attractive, with hair loss, chemo bloat, steroid face, and any number of other side effects. However, you don't have to add frumpy clothes to the mix. Go shopping for easy, comfy clothes that are also cute and stylish. Opt for soft, flattering pieces that are interchangeable and low maintenance. It's also good to get some cute hats and scarves as well as a wig if you think you'll wear one. You don't want to wait until your hair falls out to figure out how to cover your head.
3. Shopping for Chemowear
Chemotherapy can dry out your skin and cause it to become flaky and itchy. However, it can also have the opposite effect, making your skin feel softer than ever. To manage these changes, stay moisturized and take extra good care of your skin during treatment. You'll be amazed at the "toxic glow" that your skin can have during this time.
4. Preparing for Skin Changes
One of the most challenging side effects of chemotherapy is hair loss. However, you can take control of this process. Once you start to notice hair loss, shave your head rather than watch it thin and fall out. You can also have some fun with it and have a makeup artist friend teach you and a group of friends how to apply false eyelashes. It's a great way to turn something potentially upsetting into a good memory.
5. Taking Charge of Hair Loss
Chemotherapy can cause some strange changes in your body, such as losing your nose hair or getting dust and particles in your eyes due to the lack of eyelashes. Rather than feeling mournful about these changes, try to become curious about them. Remember that these changes are almost entirely temporary.
6. Being Curious About Weird Body Changes
Eating a balanced and nutritious diet is essential during cancer treatment. Say yes when people offer to help, and ask one of your organized friends to arrange for meal delivery in the early weeks. However, specify that you need clean and healthy whole foods, nothing high in fat or sugar. Above all else, at least until you finish treatment, eat what appeals to you rather than skipping meals. You need the nourishment.
7. Organizing Help
Ask friends to bring you lunch during treatment, but first, find out what pre-meds you'll be given. Some treatments may cause you to become unconscious for several hours, so plan for this and have friends stop by during your waking hours. You might also arrange for rides to and from treatment, as you're likely not going to feel like driving yourself.
8. Putting on a Little Lipstick
Wearing makeup can give you the confidence you need to power through in a public setting. While cancer treatment can make you feel run down and less than attractive, putting on a little lipstick can help you feel more like yourself. It can also prevent people from giving you pitying "cancer face" looks.
9. Getting to Know Your Care Team
From the nurses to the lab techs to the dedicated folks in billing and scheduling, your care team is made up of people who have chosen to go into the cancer field. They are among the kindest and most dedicated folks out there, and taking the time to learn their names and hear their stories can help make the experience more personal. This is not a quick journey, and you're going to be in it together for a while.
10. Packing Your Chemo Bag
- Pack your chemo bag with essentials, and don't forget to add the chemo-kits.com tote bag to your collection. This tote bag is inscribed with the words "Fuck Cancer," which is a reminder that you're a warrior and can handle anything that comes your way. You can purchase the tote bag at HERE. In addition to this tote bag, make sure to pack books, magazines, your laptop and/or iPad, ginger chews and pills for nausea, lip balm and lotion, comfy socks, thank you notes and a good pen, a phone charger, a soft blanket (as chemo rooms are generally pretty cold), a bottle of water, and some healthy snacks. Keep the bag stocked and take it with you to every treatment.
11. Pampering Yourself
Chemotherapy can make you feel run down, and possible cause you to retain fluid. White count booster shots can make you feel like you have the flu, with sore muscles and achy joints. However, you can treat yourself to massages if your oncologist approves. Lymphatic drainage massages can help move the fluid through your system, while myofascial massages can help ease the pain in sore muscles. The power of human touch can work wonders, and acupuncture is also very helpful for chemo side effects. You're going through enough, so you deserve to pamper yourself. Spa gift certificates are also great gifts to give someone going through treatment.
- How can I connect with the cancer community during my treatment?
- You can reach out and get on the social graph to connect with the cancer community. There are various support groups, forums, and social media platforms where you can find others who have gone through or are going through cancer treatment.
- What should I wear during chemotherapy treatment?
- You should wear soft, comfortable clothes that are easy to take on and off. Consider purchasing chemowear, which are soft and stylish clothes that are interchangeable and low maintenance. Also, get some cute hats and scarves, as well as a wig if you think you'll wear one.
- Will chemotherapy affect my skin?
- Chemo can dry out your skin and cause it to become flaky and itchy, or it can have the opposite effect and make your skin softer. It's important to stay moisturized and take extra good care of your skin during treatment.
- Will I lose my hair during chemotherapy treatment?
- Most likely, yes. Your scalp will become tender and painful before the follicles release, so consider taking control and shaving your head rather than watching it thin and fall out.
- Will I gain or lose weight during chemotherapy treatment?
- It's more common to gain weight during treatment due to bloating associated with the constant and frequent infusions of chemicals, as well as with the steroids given in connection with the chemo. However, weight loss can occur due to nausea and other side effects.
- Should I eat during chemotherapy treatment?
- Yes, it's important to eat what appeals to you (rather than skipping meals) as you need the nourishment. Consider having a healthy meal plan in place and ask friends to bring you lunch during treatment.
- Can I get massages or acupuncture during chemotherapy treatment?
- Yes, if your oncologist approves it. Lymphatic drainage massages can help move fluid through your system, while myofascial massages can help ease the pain in sore muscles. Acupuncture is also very helpful for chemo side effects.
- What should I pack in my chemo bag?
- You should pack essentials such as books, magazines, your laptop and/or iPad, ginger chews and pills for nausea, lip balm and lotion, comfy socks, thank you notes and a good pen, a phone charger, a soft blanket, a bottle of water, healthy snacks, and the chemo-kits.com tote bag.
Going through cancer treatment is a challenging experience that can leave you feeling lost and alone. However, by connecting with the cancer community, going shopping for comfortable clothes, preparing for skin changes, taking charge when your hair starts falling out, being curious about the weird changes in your body, lining up a healthy meal plan, organizing help, putting on a little lipstick, getting to know everyone on your care team, packing your chemo bag, and pampering yourself, you can make the journey a little easier. Remember that you're not alone, and there are resources and support available to help you through this difficult time.