Thursday, October 14, 2010

Remembering Chemo and Chemo Care Packages

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.



Anonymous said...

Dear Diane, it sounds like your body really reacted to the chemo, and I'm so sorry for you that you had to endure such sickness. I love your ideas of what a person who is about to start chemo would appreciate. I was also wondering about vitamins. Did you take any particular vitamins during that time period and do you take any different vitamins now? What are your thoughts on that? Again, thank you so much for the input.

I will prepare a similar package for my mother. I think she will begin her chemo next week. You save your package for someone who has no one else to put it together for them, my friend!

SurvivorDiane said...

Jan, I was thinking about you when I wrote this. I never want a new patient to hear my story before they start treatments. As my Onco. says - "you scare my patients!" He's a hoot. That said, most patients don't go through what I did. I'm glad you are going to put together a package for your mom. There is a magazine that will also give you ideas on some caps and things that she may want. It's through the ACS ( Regarding vitamins - that is a call from the Oncologist. Some things react with chemo drugs and I never took one thing (NOTHING) without his permission. I hope your mom gets chemo education and you get to go with her to hear about it - if not get to read about it. That is a big help. After treatment I had to start calcium - along with other things for thyroid issues as well as Tamoxifen so I just didn't and still don't bother with other vitamins - even though I should.

If you will - I would like your mom's name and address to send her a card. You can inbox me if you think she would be receptive to a card from a stranger.

Take care,

Michelle aka Naila Moon said...

My aunt is getting ready to do radiation. This is after a summer filled with chemo and subsequently last month a double mastectomy. She has been an inspiration to me as now you have.
Many blessings to you.
~Naila Moon

Su-sieee! Mac said...

Diane, thank you for telling your experience. I appreciate it. Your goodies bag is a brilliant, loving and practical idea.
Su-sieee! Mac
This and That. Here and There. Now, Sometimes Then.

Emily T. Thomas said...

You are one brave woman! this is a GREAT idea!!

would love for you to enter the contest @ - here's the link

Susie Buetow said...

That is so awesome! Thank you for sharing. That is a blessing that you share your experience.

Thanks for stopping in at my blog last week. I'm slow on the follow. I'm not sure if I'm following your blog. Your GFC link is down.

Stop in and link up to my Friday link up! I'll pop back over later to see if you are up and running!!

Nancy's Point said...

What a wonderful idea providing chemo bags full of useful stuff! I am just finishing up chemo and would have loved such a thing. Just stumbled onto your blog and enjoyed reading about your chemo experience, sorry you were so sick. I hope you can visit my blog soon and leave me your impressions.

bzkdz said...

Such a timely post for me.. my Dad had his first chemo treatment 2 days ago! I am preparing a care package for my college age son and now I'll do one for my dad as well (he lives on the other side of the country from me). So glad I saw this today!

Cheryl Justice Armajo said...

Hooray for you my unknown friend! You inspire me! Thank you.

Cheryl Justice Armajo said...

Hooray for you my unknown friend! You inspire me! Thank you.

Unknown said...

My mom just celebrated her one year cancer free. A lot of her friends and chuch family gave her things. One thing I want to remind people making care packages for people, its better if you don't send smelly things. My mom got a bunch of things that were smelly and they made her sick.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing your story. My sister in-law just had a double mastectomy at the beginning of Aug. and started chemo a couple weeks later. She was told she had the most aggressive type and if it comes back it usually comes back in the brain. Which has started me thinking differently. My girl scout troop just finished doing the cheer mile for the marathon to support cancer. Now my girls want to run in the 5K in the spring for breast cancer. I thinking making support bags for the chemo patients would be a great service project. I never even thought of doing that. Thanks for the insight

SurvivorDiane said...

Thank you guys for the sweet comments. I appreciate the feedback. I am also so sorry for those that have to take this journey, but God will see you through as the patient, caregiver, family or friend.

Thanks to everyone.

pwt1234ily said...

I am so inspired by your story! God is SO GOOD! I know a little girl who has cancer and is fighting it for the third time, she is 12 or 13. We are trying to get everyone to pray for her. You know what she is going through...if you wouldn't mind can you pray for her. Also what do you tell her at a time like this? What would you have liked to have heard?

SurvivorDiane said...

I would be honored to pray for her. I was reminded of Job when I was in the midst of my trial with breast cancer. I was diagnosed just two weeks after losing my mother in law to cancer and three months after losing my dad to heart failure. I heard it said over and over "God won't give you more than you can handle". There is no scripture that says that. But I Corinthians10:13 does say that He will provide a way for you to endure what you are tempted with. We need to know that nothing we go through compares to what Jesus went through for us. Often we can't see the good in what we endure until we are on the other side of the fire. Tell her to hold on and see what God is going to do. He will never waste the pain. I have said it before. God trusted me to glorify Him with my cancer. He trusted me and I was not worthy.

Lord, I don't know this child with cancer but you do. You know every part of her and you loved her before she was born. I pray for healing in her life and for strength to endure what lies ahead in her journey. I pray for her family and friends. That they minister to her in a way she will feel your presence in her life. I pray that she knows you personally and that she rests in your love. Thank you for someone willing to ask for prayer on her behalf. Please bless them and this child. In Jesus name, Amen.

Unknown said...

Ok, um I don't know where to sumit a name for a bag or is it to late? I will be making some I hope soon. Love your page. Also I have never joined a blog and some of that stuff is confusing me!! Comments?, follow Pinterest, blog just tell me where to push. I lost my sister two years ago which my daddy followed two days later and a brother when he was 3. I don't say the word

Unknown said...

Ok, um I don't know where to sumit a name for a bag or is it to late? I will be making some I hope soon. Love your page. Also I have never joined a blog and some of that stuff is confusing me!! Comments?, follow Pinterest, blog just tell me where to push. I lost my sister two years ago which my daddy followed two days later and a brother when he was 3. I don't say the word

{raisingAlexis} said...

what a wonderful idea! I am going to see if my church group wants to start a similar program!

Happy Scrappy said...

This caught my attention as cancer is so scary and we all have been touched by at least one person with it. I am pinning this and will make some of these to take to an oncology center as you suggested. Thank you for sharing your story and I pray for a much better recovery for you on your journey to becoming cancer free. Here's to 2013 for you.
With Love

lisbonlioness said...

This is wonderful.
We recently lost a dear friend to cancer, and I wish I'r read this post two years ago... we could have totally made his day with one of your care packages.
I remember how really sour and really hot stuff was all he could taste for a while, and it was sad to see how all his favourite treats became meaningless :(
Cancer is a terrible foe, and it's great to see somebody talking about it head- on.
Here's to you, girl- may the new year bring nothing but joy.

Pam said...

I just can't wait to do this. I lost my mom nov 2,2012. There were lots if things her body went through. She is now a perfect angel in heaven, I would love to do this for others. What a wonderful idea and a blessing to others. I'm praying for you your friend and anyone else and their family that are going through this. Always keep your faith strong and remember that God has a plan for us all.

SurvivorDiane said...

This post appears on Pinterest and I am so thankful for those of you that have taken the time to read it. I am very thankful to those that will prepare and share packages. I pray that those packages bless those that receive it and that each will be on their way to full recovery and healing. Thank you for the encouraging words.

Unknown said...

I was diagnosed with breast cancer 14 years ago, New Years Eve 1998. To God be the glory great things He hath done!

Unknown said...

I was diagnosed with breast cancer 14 years ago, New Years Eve 1998. To God be the glory great things He hath done!

Stephanie said...

I am also a cancer survivor (colon), and I love this idea! The first anniversary of my final treatment is in a couple of weeks. I think I'll make a couple of care packages and take them to my oncology center for patients who are going through chemo now. Thanks for the inspiration!

~ R said...

So good to read this. When my mum had her first round of chemo for breast cancer 6 months ago, I made her a chemo care pack. I included:

x a tote bag for her take to chemo with her
x a book to read (and a trashy mag!)
x lip balm to help with dry lips
x travel tissues
x a pair of comfy tracky pants (because sometimes when you feel really lousy, some soft comfy clothes help a lot!)
x a journal
x hand sanitiser
x two gorgeous head scarves
x some organic aloe body and face lotion
x an eyebrow pencil

My mum loved it, and I loved being able to give her something full of love and care.

Finding ME! said...

I lost my mom a yr ago to breast cancer. ALL of these things remind me of the stuff she would ask for. This is truly a perfect package. I took care of my mom for 5 years. This packageinspires me to reach out more and do something for someone who is not fortunate to have someone like me taking care of them. Thank you <3 God bless you!!!

piper said...

I did this for a friend a few years ago...each week of chemo I sent something to help...all those listed plus pink socks and pkgs. of chicken noodle soup, which we knows cures many things!

Kristy said...

Thank you for this post! I have a dear friend that is battling breast cancer. We are only 42 yrs old and absolutely devastated she is ill. Thank you for sharing your experience and this sweet gift bag idea. God bless you!

melissa2010 said...

I am an oncology nurse and I think this a very good idea. It is so hard to watch patients suffer the side effects of chemo. Sometimes the smallest things make the biggest difference. Thank you for the idea, I plan to make some care packages to take to work for our patients. Thank you for being an inspiration to so many.

melissa2010 said...

I am an oncology nurse and I think this a very good idea. It is so hard to watch patients suffer the side effects of chemo. Sometimes the smallest things make the biggest difference. Thank you for the idea, I plan to make some care packages to take to work for our patients. Thank you for being an inspiration to so many.

Laurie Z said...

I hope you are doing well; wanted to thank you for your suggestions, as we are putting together a bag for a dear friend.

xswtctstrphex said...

This is absolutely fantastic! I'm very active in my church community, and am actually the National Advisor for our diocesan youth group, as well as a very active local advisor. We work with ACS all the time and many of us have been touched by cancer in our lives. We have had many parishioners survive and succumb to the disease. My brother is a survivor of childhood Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.
I'm absolutely going to talk to the kids at my church about making these. It's such a fantastic idea and I think that there are fewer things in the world more beautiful than random acts of kindness. If that random act of kindness can be given to someone who is courageously fighting an incredibly difficult battle, then that makes it even better.
Thanks for the inspiration for the gifts AND for being an inspiration yourself. God bless you.

Tina said...

I'm so thankful to have found you on Pinterest. My first appointment with my oncologist is on Valentine's Day...Oh, so romantic, lol, and treatment will begin soon after. I'm a little nervous, but I know God has me in the center of His hand and I'm excited to have found someone who has gone before me. Thank you for sharing.

SurvivorDiane said...

You guys confine to overwhelm me with your kind comments. I am praying right now for those that are going through Chemo and for those caring for those that are. You bless me with your comments. Thank you and may you all be blessed and be a blessing.

~Angela said...

What an amazing giving heart you have. Sometimes we go through things just so we can help others. Thank you for this. I will remember this and I will "pass it on".

Charlotte J said...

This is a wonderful idea! I have a very dear friend that has a son that is fighting Leukemia. I will make one if these for him! And a few to leave for others there as well. Thank you for sharing your story!

Shelly said...

This is such a great idea. You've inspired me to organize an effort locally. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Diane thanks for posting this. Great job. R, your suggestions were spot on! When I went thru chemo 4 years ago some other items were suggested to me that I found most helpful- dark nail polish for when your toe nails turn dark from chemo, the softest toothbrush you can find for your newly sensitive mouth, children's toothpaste ( can't have whitener in toothpaste), world's softest socks, a travel pillow for neck support, a glass drink bottle(stay away from plastics), false eyelashes and the Anastasia brow express kit from Sephora. What a lovely project for our friends and loved ones going thru this hard experience.

Unknown said...

I founded a group called Sister Hugs last July and we send Love Bombs to nominated "sisters" all over the US. Many are cancer patients and I really appreciated your post concerning the chemo care package. That will be so helpful having items that will be helpful. We are having an intentional kindness day coming up and I plan to make several of these to leave at the oncologist office for patients.. Thank you again for sharing. If you have any other ideas that would have boosted your spirits, we would love the suggestions. You can find us on FB at Sister Hugs - really love the input!!!

Sylvia-Louise said...

This is such a heartfelt post. Thank you for sharing. My dad passed last month from bladder cancer. A good friend has set up a non-profit foundation to raise money for hospice and these care packages are another great idea. Agsin, thank you.

Unknown said...

Diane, thank you so very much for your caring. I'm personally going thru chemo right now for gbm stage 4 brain cancer. And I was looking for a way to help other brain cancer patients, and I came a crossed your pinterest. I too am having a horrible time with the chemo. This is my second round. And probably my last. Your very inspiring. Thank you. Yours truly, vicky cannon

Unknown said...

Diane, thank you so very much for your caring. I'm personally going thru chemo right now for gbm stage 4 brain cancer. And I was looking for a way to help other brain cancer patients, and I came a crossed your pinterest. I too am having a horrible time with the chemo. This is my second round. And probably my last. Your very inspiring. Thank you. Yours truly, vicky cannon

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for these ideas. I have a small group of girl scouts wanting to make care packages to earn their bronze award and this post helped a lot. Most of the stuff in this list was already in the list they came up with on their own. We are going to make a bunch and bring them either to children's hospital or Roswell.

Susie said...

Thanks so much for the ideas! :)

Stacey Sue said...

When I had BC almost 10 years ago these were all things I needed. I also had a cute little black zipped bag from Victoria's Secret that I put all my meds in. It was perfect for appointments and travel when I could. Thanks for the reminder and awesome idea!

Leah said...

I am so thankful to have come across this pin as I was just clicking and scrolling through pinterest! I wasn't even looking for it, God is so good! My dad was diagnosed July 11th 2013 with stage 3 lung cancer which has spread to his lymph nodes. He is having port put I wednesday 8/14 and beginning chemo the following day. I love the idea of a little care package of things that will come in handy during and after treatments. This is my first time having a loved one with cancer, your blog truly is a blessing!

Unknown said...

how much do you charge to send someone a care package?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the great care package idea and explanation on what it is helping. My brother was just diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer that has spread to his liver. He had his port put in and his first chemo just a couple days ago. We are all doing what we can to help him fight and this care package will go a long way. It's people like you and your blog that helps people like me along this long road that we have ahead of us. God bless!

Unknown said...

I'm a breast cancer survivor since 1998 and just ran across your care package idea in Pinterest.
This is breast cancer awareness month so of course a good time to do something like this.
Chemo did not make me as sick as you but there were lots of other issues. I am grateful to be a survivor but will never forget and my heart goes out to all who are going through this.
Just a suggestion is to add a terrycloth turban to the care package. I lived in them. My head was cold without hair!

ApexEntGroup said...

I want to thank you for posting the chemotherapy care package information, my mother starts chemo Tuesday for ovarian cancer. Thanks a bunch.

Corrinne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SurvivorDiane said...

Corrinne the baby products sound like a wonderful idea. This could be a big step in mending a relationship. Send whatever you like and she will appreciate the effort.

Unknown said...


Thank you for the information you gave on the care bag. My sister-in-law starts chemo tomorrow for colon and liver cancer. I wanted so much to do something for her to try to help her prepare for this battle.
My daughter and I got together and purchased all kinds of items and put them in a very nice bag that she could take to and from her treatments.
It is made of something that you could spray with a disinfectant.
We gathered all types of hard candy. Lemon drops, butterscotch, spearmint, peppermint. Chewing gum, tic tac's.
Hand sanitizer, body lotion, body spray, lip balm, hand lotion. She should still pamper herself.
A coloring book and colored pencils, playing cards, word puzzles.
Mouth moisturizer, very dry skin ointment.
A big soft oversized throw and soft warm socks.
I just want to do anything I can to make this terrifying journey as easy on her as I possibly can.
She was so overwhelmed with what we done. She thanked us over and over.
She especially loved the bag that I got. She said she didn't know what she was going to carry all of her papers and other items in because she didn't have a bag big enough.
The only thing I wasn't able to put in the bag was a cure for this horrible disease.
One day, hopefully one day, we won't have to make care bags for this.

Unknown said...

Haven't received bag

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