This is a practical blog post that is going to list some of the great “gifts,” I was given before starting chemotherapy. These gifts came from my friend Nina (as depicted in the vlog), but also in a care package I received from The Actor’s Fund, an AMAZING organization that helps take care of members of the performing arts community.
So, if you or a friend are about to start chemo, here is a list of things that helped me out (most of which I talk about in the vlog, but sometimes it's helpful to have these things written down... with LINKS):
Aveeno Lotion: Nina gave me this lotion. My skin did dry out, so I was constantly moisturizing. This product is awesome because it is well ranked by the EWG.
Biotene Products: I used both the mouthwash and toothpaste. Definitely helped with dry mouth and mouth sores.
Brita Water Bottle: Staying hydrated is SO important when you’re going through treatment. I love this water bottle, because it filters my water, but also encourages little sips, instead of big gulps (which I find is easier on your stomach, and even if you’re like me and don’t experience nausea due to chemo, days at hospital, being poked, prodded and questioned can make anyone queasy.)
EOS: My favorite lip balm (again, the chemo caused my skin to dry out… everywher. Including my lips, so this little guy was my friend.)
Gin-Gins: Like Nina, I didn’t experience much in the way of nausea, but I still think this is a great product—especially if you’re having problems with nausea.
Hand Sanitizer: I didn’t mention it in the vlog, but I was given hand sanitizer by several people. I had a bottle that I spritzed the moment I came home, and another in my purse. Chemo effects your immune system, so better to be safe than sorry.
Ice Pops: I used these to prevent mouth sores. I did not use them my first week, and guess what happened… MOUTH SORES! I did use them is succeeding weeks and the problem went away.
Magazines: It’s good to have light reading materials while you’re in the chair. Even if your chemo center has magazines, like those at the dentist they are likely to be out of date, giving you stories about Bruce Jenner or Ben and Jen that don’t feel relevant. Magazines/Sudoku/crosswords are also good because they may be of value to anyone accompanying you to chemo. The first thing in my drip was Benadryl, so half the time I fell asleep five minutes into the infusion.
Planter’s Energy Packs: Nina gave them to me. They are delicious and packed with protein, which is super helpful when you’re going through chemo.
Plastic Cutlery: As explained in the vlog.
Puzzles: I was wiped out the weekend after every chemo infusion. I would do a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle because I wanted to lay low, but not THAT low. Obviously, not everyone loves puzzles as I do, but low-key activity gifts are great.
Satin Pillow Cases: Again—explained in the vlog, and really nice whether you’re experiencing hair loss or not.
Socks: Hospitals are cold.
Tea: Apparently, someone sent out a memo telling everyone that people with cancer LOVE tea. I’m good with tea, but I literally received 15 boxes from people as gifts. I started just giving boxes of tea to anyone who came to my apartment. In fact, if you would like some tea, e-mail me your address and I’ll send you some right now. I’ve been cancer free for a year and a half, but still have like four unopened boxes.
If you’re looking for other gifts to give people about to start chemo (beyond the UBER practical items I’ve listed above), here are some organizations I received gifts from that were great:
Fighting Pretty: An amazing organization I’ve written about before that sends “Pretty Packages,” to women battling cancer. Mine included a beautiful scarf, earrings, underwear, eyelashes, lipstick, chocolate and more. It REALLY brightened my day, and I carried the mini pink boxing gloves from the box into surgery.
Spoonful of Comfort: A lot of people send food or certificates for food, but when my friends sent me this package, I was really excited and very moved. Mine included soup (which was DELICIOUS), a ladle, rolls (also delicious), cookies, socks, and of course… Tea.
If you have other itemsthat helped you through chemo, please leave them in the comments below!