Things that can make chemo easier to handle…
Some people like to have others with them and some don’t – if company is your thing then don’t for goodness sake try and brave it on your own. Ask someone to come with you and hang out – even if you both just read together it feels less lonely.
Whatever’s your thing…take it along with you. Ipods, DVD players, trashy mags, good books, earplugs/eyemask/do not disturb signs or board games are all perfect ways to pass the time and distract you from the matter at hand. (Just a heads up on the board games, you’ll be great all the while its saline going through the IV but when the drugs head in, you’re brain will become mush and any winning streak you were on will be lost for the day). Make sure you have plenty of the same at home too cause you’re gonna need more distracting for a while yet.
You’ll also find that you start to get to know other ‘regulars’ being treated the same day as you, so you can catch up with them, play ‘spot the newbie’ or just eavesdrop in on their conversations (‘people watching’ as those in denial call it!).
Food – whatever you fancy!
Now here’s the funny thing – while chemo itself makes you feel nauseous to the point of not being able to even look at food, the steroids like Dexamethasone that they give you alongside to help with nausea make you starving hungry! Just eat whatever you fancy in those first few days and you’ll find after a bite or two you may even be able to finish a whole serving. Don’t be surprised if KFC features largely in your post-chemo session diet – for some reason it’s the one food that universally transcends all nausea and is most fancied late at night (good old Colonel Sanders).
You really can’t drink enough of the old H20 during your treatment – it ill help get the drugs through your system, go some way to preventing and helping with constipation and flush out all those toxins released by dead and dying cells. It also helps to wash down all that KFC you’re scoffing!
Wigs, Hats & Scarves
To have the ability to blend into the crowd (more than say… a shiny pink head) you need to find yourself a trusty syrup in a colour and style that you feel comfortable with. Yes they’re itchy, yes they’re different to your regular hair but by golly do they buy you some time off from being seen as a ‘cancer patient’ and that’s more valuable than you can imagine.
Similar to wigs in that they provide a handy cover up – headscarves are a bit more conspicuous but come in a far better range of colours than wigs! You’ll end up with more than you need but hey it’s a time for treats – what more can we say? If you’re having chemo during the winter – get some warm hats (especially for sleeping) and if its summer get one with a wide brim as you’re not supposed to be out in the sun with some chemo drugs and the last thing you want to do is burn your balding head.