The Big C

A journey through Stage Four Cancer

Chemotherapy “Goody Bags”

on November 4, 2011

It might seem funny to call these bags, goody bags, because when you think of a goody bag, you usually think of little paper bags filled with small wrapped candies.  The kind you get at birthday parties or for Halloween.

This is a bag that you need to make up for yourself, or for someone close to you who is going to start chemotherapy. 

This might not be everyone’s experience, but this is my experience.  I can only write about what I know and I very much welcome the comments of other people experiences.  So please feel free to comment.

When I first started chemo, I felt pretty healthy and I walked to the treatment.  I carried my purse, with all its contents.  I bought a book with me.  My husband bought a crossword puzzle book with him.

The next time, I bought all the same things with me, but I bought a crossword puzzle book with me.  The next week, I traded the crossword puzzle book for a word search book.

Somewhere along the way, my body started to ache at the end of the treatment.  The food that the clinic offered it’s chemo patients was absolutely not something I could eat anymore.  The snacks made me sick.  I realized that I couldn’t read the books that I bought with me, I couldn’t concentrate on the puzzle books.

By the end of my treatments, I would walk into treatment, but not with the same vigor as I had previously.  The clinic had a smell to it, and tears would come to my eyes as I got close to it.  I’d leave the treatment in a wheelchair.  I’d sleep the hour drive home.

I no longer brought my pocket-book with me, and I prefered to wear two zippered sweatshirts to wearing my winter coat. It was just too heavy for me now.

My next round of chemotherapy wasn’t as bad.  This time I was prepared.  I got myself a very lightweight, zippered tote bag before my treatments even began.  This would be my “goody bag.”  At Wal-Mart I was able to pick up a clear plastic, zippered bag to hold smaller items inside of my tote bag.

There was no question of me driving after my chemo treatments.  This is something you need to know before you start treatment, because you need to know how you will get to and from treatment.  In my opinion, even if you can drive to and from the chemo treatment, have an alternate driver just in case as the treatment progresses, you find that you really can’t drive yourself anymore.  The American Cancer Society has volunteer drivers.

My husband drove me to treatment.  Since he would always bring me, I asked him to carry my Drivers License and the medical cards.  Sometimes the clinic asks for these proofs when you are signing in for treatment.  This way, I didn’t have to carry a wallet with me.

These are the things that I found that I either needed, or made my stay more comfortable:

1. a small, though not tiny, bottle of hand sanitizer

2. lip balm

3. small packet of tissues

4. fruit flavored gum

5. Crossword Puzzle book.  This is where having someone with you helps, when I couldn’t concentrate on the book by myself, my husband would read the hint, prod me for an answer and fill in the blanks.

6. An E Reader.  Don’t save money here.  Buy a few different types of books.  My choices were the newest Debbie Macomber , Cedar Cove series book,  a collection of Agatha Christie books and Ozzy Osbourne’s autobiography.  Many different types of stories and writing styles.

7.  My Ipod with Solitaire loaded on it, and most important, its charger.  You will be surprised how quickly the battery will die while you are undergoing chemotherapy.  The Ipod is nice and small, and you can keep in touch with net friends this way.

8. A small bottle of your favorite hand lotion, for when your skin feels annoyingly dry

9. A roll of Lifesaver candy

10. A bottle or two of my favorite beverage.  After chemo, I couldn’t take things that were cold.  This way my drink was the perfect temperature for me.  And staying hydrated is soo important during chemotherapy and the days afterward.

I didn’t bring a blanket with me because the clinic usually has them, with the added benefit of  also having a blanket warmer.  At one point, my wonderful nurses would trade my blanket for one right out of the blanket warmer every half hour or so.

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