Updated: Feb 4
Chemo was no joke...there is no way to sugarcoat it. But like my sweet friend Amy said to me..."You can do anything 4 times" and she was right. I am amazed how the warrior in us comes out when we need it most so remember that as you are preparing for Round 1...You got this GIRL! I did have some favorite things that got me through chemo and helped me avoid some of the nasty things like mouth sores and complete hair loss. Depending on the type of chemo you will be having some of these things may not "work." For example, the Dignicap is amazing and it really did save almost all of my hair but I have heard for ladies having RED DEVIL chemo it will not save your hair and you may be wasting money (did I mention that insurance does not pay for it? We will talk about that more below).
Here are my top CHEMO MUST HAVES...
Dignicap- The Dignicap is a scalp cooling fitted cap used in chemo in hopes you will be able to keep your hair. It absolutely worked for me but I know it does not work for everyone and unfortunately like many things with breast cancer it is not covered by insurance. This is something I strongly believe we need to advocate for and change! I did have to go about an hour before my chemo appointment to get the dignicap on. It is a snug fitting cap with a long tube hooked to a computer which generates the freezing cold water to the cap and freezes your scalp. I have to admit I looked smokin hot (picture Amelia Earhardt in her leather flight helmet but way less cute) sitting in my chemo chair for 8 hours like this. The cap does give you a headache like a brain freeze for about 10 minutes but then your head is numb and you are good to go. I will do another post all on this cap to give you more information and feel free to reach out to me in the chat feature on the site if you have any questions.
Chemo Mouthpiece- This one deserves it's own post as well and I will dedicate a post to this in the near future. Not only did the chemo mouthpiece keep me from getting ANY mouth sores but the people at the company are truly wonderful!!
Gingersnaps- I loved snacking on gingersnaps!! These amazing little cookies calmed my stomach and were the only things I wanted to eat some days. So it made sense to heavily invest in a tin of these cookies...and then it happened. Round 3...I could not even look at the tin without gagging. Buy Buy cookies...I highly recommend you try these- just do not over invest in them! ha!
Queasy Drops- My bestest friend for chemo 1 and 2. I lived on these. They truly made me feel so much better when I started to feel queasy. In fact I loved these things so much I bought like 4 tins on amazon (are you noticing a trend?). Then Round 3 happened and if I even looked at one I gagged! Needless to say all of them got donated to the oncologist. Chemo is a weird thing. Do not be surprised if your tastes change with a lot of things.
Yeti Cup- I had the cutest cup made by my sweet friend Jessica. It was bubblegum pink with glitter and said "The Blonde Bombshell"- did you expect anything less? This cup made me smile! Bring a cup like a yeti filled with water...you will hear DRINK MORE WATER more than you have ever wanted to during chemo and for the days after. Side note: I could not drink out of anything metal before...you guessed it...round 3 for chemo. It was something about the metal that made me gag. Be prepared.
Blankets and socks- UMMMMM I was FREEZING! Like Elsa LET IT GO Freezing. I know the Dignicap freezing my head (LITERALLY) did not help but the IV chemo made me so cold. Bring a blanket and some comfy socks. My blanket was a prayer blanket prayed over by many at my dads church...it added a little extra love and comfort on those day.
Pillow- I brought my mastectomy pillow and my tiny pillow from the volunteers at the hospital that I received when I had my double mastectomy (read 15 Things You NEED Before a Mastectomy to learn why I love these so much and where to get them). Many women had regular pillows as well and taking a nap will definitely make the day go fast. Oncologists usually have pretty comfy recliner chairs for you during chemo which does help.
Snacks- Although most oncologists will have snacks in the chemo room I recommend packing your favorites. It usually is a long day and better to be safe than sorry. My chemo was about 6 hours each time and of course went over lunch. Luckily they had a café upstairs that would deliver lunch. If you are not so lucky bring a cooler with you- they do not mind.
Reading Glasses- I was 41 when I was diagnosed and since I work mostly on a computer my eye sight seemed to make a drastic shift as it was but with chemo it changed even more drastically! Do not fret- get some cute readers and keep on trucking!
Movies and computer- I am blessed to work for a company that allowed me to work during my treatment. This was a great way to stay busy and keep my mind off the poison going into my veins. I was able to answer emails and even make phone calls to keep up. If you have a computer that allows you to play DVDs or stream Netflix you can watch movies during chemo as well. If your computer is locked down for that no worries a portable DVD player works perfect!
Social Media- I love social media but what I really loved about it during this journey was it served like a journal. Now that I am a year out from treatment I have memories that pop up about what I went through. I also found this to be the best way to update everyone at once on how I was doing. Don't get me wrong, friends and loved ones reaching out is wonderful but having to go through details over and over is exhausting. Use Facebook or Instagram as your own journal and you can update during chemo helping to make those clock hands move a bit faster.
A Designated Driver- Usually you can bring a loved one or a friend for chemo to make the day go by faster...however, if you are like me and have to be a unicorn you get diagnosed during the height of the pandemic where no one can come with you. Do not worry...the nurses are wonderful and will keep you company and you can find a lot to do. Read above for suggestions. Some say that chemo is exhausting but for me and because of the steroids they administer I actually left chemo with a burst of energy. In fact, I often ran errands right after because I had so much energy and I knew that would not last in the days to come. However, you will want someone to take you and pick you up if you have that option. Depending on the chemo you get you may have to take a benedryl which could cause drowsiness and the steroids can make you feel a little impaired.
Recliner or Hospital Bed- Check out my other post 15 Things You NEED Before a Mastectomy to hear why either of these are much needed! Even in chemo these are so helpful. Propping up helps with acid reflux that is inevitable with most chemo.
Chemo Buddy- I will dedicate an entire post to this one coming up so stay tuned...but everyone should have that friend that never leaves your side...the below pic us mine!