Reminiscing chemo is not one of my favorite things to do. Quite frankly the thought makes me ill. I firmly believe that God used chemo to boldly let me know who was and is in control. My biggest fear starting chemo was the hair loss. I did not want to lose my hair but knew it would happen. I did not fear being sick. I believed that the medications that were prescribed would take care of any neausea and I would breeze through like others I had talked to. WRONG!
My family joined me for my first chemo. We went in with positive attitudes even though we were extremely nervous. Chemo was just a pit stop of our day. My husband and daughter had a softball game the night of my first chemo. I sucked it up and got that treatment behind me and headed straight to her game. Within two hours something was terribly wrong. I was SICK. I mean really really sick. Crazy me - I remembered them telling me the third day was usually when you felt bad. HA - I was thinking that I would die on day 3 because hour 3 was nearly unbearable. Things did not improve. Spent the night very ill - went to the ER for a shot. Shot didn't work either. First thing the next moring I was back at my Doctor's office getting IV fluids and meds. It was a very bad experience and my world was suddenly shattered. Did I mention that I HATE HATE HATE to throw up? I did and still do. I'll take pain any day just not vomit.
Thus began my journey with chemo. I left the Doctor that day with an arcenal of anti-nausea meds. I was taking something every two hours. I had a little black book (planner) at the time and began keeping up with everything. What to take when and what worked and what didn't. Had reactions to some of the drugs and some just didn't work. As with any chemo patient, there are lots of appointments and things to keep up with. My little black book became my constant companion. I wrote down everything. I wrote down my labwork numbers and kept them charted. I couldn't seem to function without it. I also kept a journal. Writing things down seemed to help me cope with all that was happening.
During this time, some things became staples for me. Things such as lemon drops, hand sanitizer, lotion, water water and more water and kleenex for the tears. I also received a cookbook entitled "Eating Well through Cancer" by Holly Clegg. It gave suggestions on what to eat during certain times and basic healthy eating principles. It was a great tool and an awesome gift from a dear friend and fellow survivor.
My extreme illness was and is not the norm for patients going through treatments. Many locals taking the same treatments do perfectly fine. I was jealous and almost mad about it. I was young and healthy and couldn't understand. Nothing we tried helped. Treatment 5 of 6 proved different. My mom was critically ill and I was avoiding my treatment for fear of the sickness. When it was inevitable - I went in and had my treatment, but not before I sat in the parking lot of the Doctor office and cried out to God - not silently - I cried out that my mom needed me and I needed the treatment and I begged God for mercy. It was the one and only treatment that I had ZERO sickness. Seriously ZERO. God knew my heart and knew I needed to be with my mom and He calmed the sea. I still believe that He needed me to be weak in order for Him to be glorified and that is what happened. I am hard headed and stubborn and like to be in control, but proved to me that I can be removed from my high horse of authority. He was in control and still is. He is in control and does NOT need my help.
All of that story to bring you here. A year after my chemo, my dear friend Connie started hers. I filled a bag with goodies and took them to her first chemo. She was so appreciative and wanted to do the same for others. We started a support group at our church and collected things to provide chemo care packages for others starting chemo.
We included things like a journal, calendar, hand sanitizer and other things. I prepared a bag to take and give to someone and you can see what all I included.
The lemon drops are to help with the taste buds. Chemo often leaves you with either no taste buds or a medicine taste. The disposable toothbrushes can do the same thing.
Patients need to drink lots and lots of water during treatment. It is important to flush those drugs through your system.
As with all chemo patients, immune systems are weak and you need to always keep your hands clean. Lotion helps if they get dry - and who doesn't like a little lotion to paper yourself?
The journal helps to keep up with your feelings and prayers and the calendar helps get you where you need to be. And a pink pin is a must for a breast cancer patient or survivor!
The snickers - well that's just a special treat.
So - if you want to do something special for someone beginning treatments - fix 'em up with a chemo care package and include a nice card letting them know you are praying for them. They will appreciate you for it. And if you can - prepare several and drop them off at a local Oncology office and let them give them out. Some patients may not have the awesome support of family and friends that I did.
Love you guys.
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