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What I Bring To Chemo

So today was my 5th chemo! Only 7 more to go. I finally feel like I’m starting to get the hang of this chemo thing. It’s anywhere from 3-5 hours in the chair for me. And I always have a nice big bag packed full of goodies. And I always have some company.

Snacks. Now I like to eat. And I like to eat frequently. I definitely nibble constantly throughout the day. Lucky for me, chemo hasn’t destroyed my appetite (my surgery actually lessened it). I always make sure to have a water bottle, a coconut water, and various snacks. Included in my rotation are honey roasted almonds, vegan lemon fig bars, chocolate almond energy bar, rice cakes, veggie chips, and cherries. (Yes I’m vegan, so any food related suggestions will be based on what I eat, but I promise you, I get all my needed nutrients).

Reading material. Sometimes I’m in the middle of a great book I can’t put down, and sometimes I’m flaky and indecisive on what I feel like reading. Therefore I always have a book, a magazine or two (Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, US Weekly, and Bust are my favorites), and my laptop in case I feel like looking on in some news, Buzzfeed, Twitter, Think Progress, or Pinterest.

An extra blanket. Yes I know that the hospital provides me with a warmed blanket once I arrive, but the blanket doesn’t stay warm, and is a really thin, not very soft blanket. Therefore I bring my super soft, fuzzy, leopard print blanket. I bring one that is my style to make the place a little more mine.

Games. UNO & other card games tend to work best at my center, although I wish I could bring Bananagrams. They make it fun & keep me alert.

Mementos. I have received some meaningful mementos from various people during my cancer journey. I received a hand knitted shawl from a woman in her 70s who is a breast cancer survivor at a support group I went to. I received a medallion with one of my favorite quotes from a woman I met through the online support boards on the Young Survival Coalition website. I wear the birthstone owl necklace my boyfriend gave me for our one year anniversary (this past May 28th!), which he bought for me because he wanted me to have something pretty to wear while he knows I’m feeling constantly down about my looks (chemo induced hair loss, acne, & bloating really takes a toll on your psyche). Having these things with me make me feel powerful, loved, and supported.

While I sit there and poison runs through my veins – poison that the nurses have to wear scrubs to administer to me – having things that matter and keep me happy and distracted is important. Now everyone’s list may be different, but the key is to find things that make you comfortable. For me, the last thing I want is to be stuck in the chemo chair hungry and cold. I have hunger induced grumpiness and cold induced grumpiness, and there’s no need to make chemo harder than it already is (both for me and for my chemo buddies). Now I feel silly because the large dose of Benadryl they give me just makes me pass out quickly, but just in case, I am prepared to make chemo a mini relaxation day.

So my advice is to make it YOU! Have fun with it and be prepared. Know what works for you. And try to make it fun. If you’re going to be stuck in a chair with an IV full of poison be injected into your body, try to enjoy your time there and look at it as a mini get away!