After Chemo: Indispensable Items

It’s not glamorous or fun. This isn’t my packing list for the hospital full of blankets and clothes, this is what I needed to survive basic daily life after chemotherapy and what I now know I need moving forward to make me feel human in the midst of chaos.

  • Comfy Bras: These bras allowed some support, had a wide strap and supported my chest catheter lumens but did not cause irritation.
  • Vomit Bags: This doesn’t require any explanation but was a life saver post chemo and I now keep them in all vehicles and all rooms just in case.
  • Press and Seal: I needed this to cover my chest catheter in order to ensure it didn’t get wet in the shower and then require a dressing change.
  • No Rinse Bathing Wipes: In case getting surgical sites wet is a big fear, this is a way to get clean, smell better and feel human again without water. Magic!
  • Preparation H Wipes: Also no explanation needed, but your tushy will thank you.
  • Adult Diapers: It ain’t sexy and I ain’t ashamed. These were a lifesaver when my body functions without thought or reason and I lost a little (or a lot) control.

Things you can’t buy

Being vulnerable is hard. Losing your independence is hard. But a lot of what I’m going through is temporary. I keep telling myself this as I learn to accept the gracious assistance of others.

If you’re about to undergo HSCT, or another medical treatment, understand that you will feel like crap so gather your village. My mother, sister and best friend have gone above and beyond day after day. They cleaned my bathroom, changed my sheets, did laundry, bought groceries and took me to and from appointments. They packed snacks and board games and sat with me for hours of treatment at Taussig and waited in the ED so I wasn’t alone. They rearranged their lives, childcare, appointments and more to be there for me.

It takes a village. I’m humbled by their generosity and support.

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