Today I received my 19th infusion… that’s just insane to me. I remember when I was facing 6 rounds of chemo, and a year of infusions and it seemed like I’d never get to this point – yet here we are. The original plan was for one full year of infusions (~17-18 depending on how you count out a year), but when the KATHERINE trial came out in December, and I was switched from Herceptin/Perjeta to Kadcyla, that plan went up in the air a bit. Initially, we thought I’d still just finish out the year we had planned, but then my oncologist started debating whether it might be worthwhile to do the full 14 cycles of Kadcyla that were done in the study. Sooooo here we are, still trying to make a decision! My onco will go to a conference next week, and hopefully then we will have a better idea about what people in my situation are doing.
But with that said, I thought this would be a good opportunity to share some of my infusion must haves! This list compiles things that I found helpful to have with me, gifts that I was given, and ideas for gifts to give someone going through chemo.
Things to comfort you:
A cozy blanket – most infusion centers will provide warm blankets, but it’s always nice to have something soft and cozy from home with you. These centers are usually super air conditioned, so this extra layer is super helpful! I got one similar to this, and still use it!
A soft (but port accessible) sweater – if you have a powerport through which you’ll be getting infusions, you’ll need to make sure it’s easily accessed. But Leanna, didn’t you say it would be cold? Ah ha, yes I did, and therein lies the catch. A basic front zip hoodie works well, but if you want your neck a little more covered after port access, I highly recommend this Athleta sweater (though now only available second hand, and works best with a left chest port), and I’ve also heard great things about this line by Care and Wear.
Fuzzy socks/slippers – you’ll be curled up in a recliner chair for hours, so you may as well be comfy from head to toe. The socks with grips on the bottom are also wonderful – don’t want to be slipping around!
Things to eat/drink:
A water bottle – chemo days are LONG. With my one infusion now, I’m usually in the cancer center 3-4 hours, but during chemo, it was at least 5 hours if not more. Hydration is so key for helping manage side effects and keeping all your tissues happy and healthy, even when chemo is wreaking havoc on your body.
Snacks – every now and then we’d run down to the hospital cafeteria or cafe to grab stuff, but the best days were when my mom would pack us a little picnic of things. She’d pack seltzer waters, prosciutto, cheese, crackers, fruit, you name it – she was the picnic QUEEN.
Things to pass the time:
Headphones and a phone/tablet/laptop – sometimes you just really need to zone out, listen to some music, watch some Netflix, shop online, etc. My husband gifted me AirPods, and they were just AMAZING. It was already a pain to be hooked up to an IV pole, but then having to manage headphone wires on top of that was a little treacherous. Any wireless/Bluetooth headphones would be a great gift/great thing to have with you.
A book – again, it’s so valuable to get your head away from reality a bit. A friend gifted me the Red Rising series (sort of Hunger Games-esque), and I totally tore through the books during chemo.
Card games – Cards Against Humanity was SO much fun to have. The last thing you expect to be doing during these long infusions is laughing, but being able to smile and laugh really helps pass the time, and bonus, it often makes others around you smile too (just don’t be too loud/inappropriate haha)! I loved also going through the expansion packs – the 90s one was the best.
I hope this list is helpful! You can always drop me a line through the contact page or find me on instagram @affirmationsfromcancer if you have questions about what to have with you for infusions, or what to get a loved one going through treatment.
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Yes, I am the QUEEN of all picnics, and here are my secrets to maintaining the power of the throne: Pack something substantial (sandwiches, but not on crusty bread…too crumbly for a nice clean hospital!) I recommend sliced turkey and cheese, or sliced hard-boiled egg. These things are easy to eat neatly. Also pack something small and light: cheese bites, cut-up fruit or grapes, bite-size crackers, baby carrots, olives, pretzels. Cookies. Share them with the nurses. Tea bags, because the staff will let you use their hot-water-making thing. Cans of flavored fizzy water. Bring a nice bright tea-towel (aka dish rag) to use as a tiny, tray-sized picnic blanket…it looks nicer that way. Remember to bring enough for whatever partners and friends are coming, too.
Preparing and bringing the food was my sanity. There’s not much else a mom can do for an adult “child” that isn’t getting in the way…
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