Helpful Items for Undergoing Chemotherapy


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Theresa Maschke joined the Fight CRC team in May 2021 as a Content Writer, binding her love of writing and editing with her experience as her husband’s (a stage III survivor) caregiver. Theresa lives in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, with her husband, Joe; three kids, Elizabeth, Joey, and Caroline; and newest addition, her puppy named Buddy!

Life is a constant lesson and we never stop learning. When Joe was scheduled to begin his chemo infusions, he (that means “we” or maybe even “I”) began a quest to find items that would help him feel well. We knew chemotherapy would be grueling and energy-sapping. 

While I know “treatment” is not confined to chemotherapy alone, this blog is all about the chemo.

A fellow CRC patient and survivor was kind enough to gift Joe with a curated backpack full of things that served her well during her treatment. Without a doubt, this was one of the most thoughtful and kindest gifts Joe received. Nothing is more helpful than people sharing life experiences and providing their suggestions of what helped them through the worst time of their lives. Some items below were contained in the backpack, and some items we discovered on our own.

Chemotherapy knocked the wind out of Joe’s sails. The night of his first infusion was particularly stressful as he woke up at midnight with the worst headache of his life, nausea, and vomiting, all while connected to an infusion pump for a total of 48 hours. My heart was in my throat as I wondered if anyone ever died from the chemo treatments themselves. It was the worst night out of his 12 chemotherapy infusions and it was absolutely terrifying. 

Here are 10 items that served Joe well during infusion: 

  1. Oncologist’s contact information and after-hours information. This sounds so basic, but I was completely unprepared. Not only did I not have Joe’s oncologist’s phone number handy, I wasn’t prepared to need an after-hours number, and at the moment I needed that information the most, I didn’t have the presence of mind to sanely locate the information. Make sure you have the oncologist’s phone number, and also be sure you have after-hours contact information and instructions. You won’t realize how much you need that information until you need it!
  1. A fleece blanket. When spending hours in the infusion chair, comfort is key. While the medical facility where Joe was treated had warm cotton blankets (which were wonderful, by the way), nothing beats the warmth of a fleece blanket that smells like home to help you rest comfortably.
  1. Burt’s Bees lip balm. Joe’s lips were dry and cracked. Not only is Burt’s Bees natural, but it also contains peppermint, which helped a bit with nausea.
  1. O'Keeffe's for Healthy Feet Foot Cream. This one is interesting because it has “Foot” in its title, and yet it was by far the best moisturizing cream. Joe is bald, and his head was really dried out and flaky. O’Keeffe’s is pretty amazing, and it did a great job of keeping Joe moisturized from his head to his feet.
  1. Biotène Dry Mouth Oral Rinse. During the six months of Joe’s chemo treatment (and through his entire course of treatment), he didn’t have mouth ulcers, and while this may or may not be the reason why, Joe used Biotene religiously. He used Biotene morning, after lunch, really any time after eating, and at night. He didn’t have ulcers, so while eating was not enjoyable for Joe during chemotherapy, at least it wasn’t painful for him.
  1. Orabrush Tongue Cleaner. This was one of the most random and strangest items requested by Joe. I don’t even know how he came across it. And yet, here I go again recommending a product because Joe never suffered mouth ulcers during the course of chemotherapy. 
  1. Sea-Band wrist bands. These were a great idea! You know how people go on cruises and wear these bands to help prevent seasickness? Well, I wish we were using these on a cruise and not for chemo. Who knew that using Sea Band wrist strips for nausea during chemotherapy could be helpful? Full disclosure here: Sea Bands were not enough to help with Joe’s nausea, and Joe ended up talking with his oncologist and getting a prescription for Zofran, which helped him tremendously. The point here is: Don’t suffer from nausea. There is help available.
  1. Connect 4 (or games or books to entertain). Chemotherapy infusion takes time. Joe always had books or magazines to read. The infusion facility also had puzzles, magazines, and TV. Sometimes it was fun just to lose ourselves in a ridiculous game or two or three of Connect-4. The funny thing is, Joe is good at almost everything -- except Connect-4. But he was always a good sport, and hey, he can’t win everything! He had to save those wins to beat CRC!
  1. A large print, spiral calendar: I mentioned in a previous blog the need to have a calendar for all things CRC-related. It was good to have all of Joe’s information on paper in one place. I kept this with Joe’s “treatment binder” in his backpack. We were able to refer back to all the details of all his treatments (appointments and scans) with this information in one place. 
  1. The backpack itself: That backpack carried everything we needed for a full-13 months of treatment, surgery, and diagnosis. It served us well, and thankfully is retired with the hope of never needing it again.

All of the items on the above list above are suggestions that we found helpful. Always talk with your doctor about any issues you may have during treatment.

Fight CRC is here with resources to help you. You never fight alone! If you're interested in purchasing any of the items above, be sure to use Amazon Smile so your purchase can support the fight against colorectal cancer.

2 thoughts on “Helpful Items for Undergoing Chemotherapy

  1. I wish I would have had something like this for my Dad when he was sick. He died 12 years ago from colorectal cancer and it’s hereditary. My brother gets tested every year. And I get tested every 3 years. I’m 57 and I was tested last year. I had five polyps three of them were large, and all five were precancerous. My brother and I have not been genetically tested, but I do believe that both of us carry the gene. I have done quite a bit of research and found that the keratoacanthoma that I had in my late 30s is a form of cancer caused by the gene.

    1. I am so sorry. Good for you and your brother for getting screened! If you would like to share your story, your story could help others. Thank you for reaching out!

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