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With a cancer diagnosis, you get bombarded with a ton of information. Disease info, hospital info, oncologist info, treatment plan info, clinical study info, drug side effect info, etc. One of the things they don’t really spell out in all that info is how at least half of the treatment plan is waiting. Waiting for your appointment, waiting for the doc to come in, waiting for blood counts to see if chemo can start, waiting for the chemo to arrive, waiting for your blood to be typed, waiting for the blood transfusion to arrive, waiting for test results, waiting to see if the drugs are working… waiting for answers.

In the midst of all that waiting leaves a lot of time. Finding things to do with that time is very important for me, because if I’m not staying occupied, my mind can wander to some fearful places. I’ve learned over the past 2 years to never expect to just be “in and out” when it comes to a clinic visit or a chemo appointment. Something always seems to come up that has us waiting, so we show up prepared. Bastian brings his iPad, or his Kindle, or a movie to watch. I bring my laptop and catch up on work, or read on my Kindle. I keep a suitcase packed in my trunk with clothes for the both of us, just in case a short clinic trip ends up becoming an overnight stay in the hospital for one reason or another.

Because I know I’m going to be waiting a lot, there are things that I always make sure we have when heading to the hospital. Besides clothes, below is my personal checklist:

  • Phones, Kindles, Ipad, Laptop
  • Chargers for all of the above
  • Cash/change for the vending machines or cafeteria
  • Paper and pen/pencil
  • Dry erase markers – to decorate Bastian’s windows should the need arise
  • Chewing gum/candy
  • Bastian’s next 2 med doses (even if I’m sure we’ll be home in time)

With Bastian being a juvenile patient, most hospitals have some kind of Child Life program with volunteers who come by to see if he needs anything, or wants to participate in arts and crafts, music, or various other activities. However, a lot of the time, he feels crummy and just doesn’t want to be bothered with anyone else, especially when the docs and nurses are in and out all the time. So, we come prepared to entertain ourselves the best we can, while we wait.