Dear Wendy readers are some of the most intelligent, stylish, super-cool people around (it’s a proven fact), so it’s a no-brainer to feature some of their favorite products. Many of the recommended products happen to be affiliate products, which means I’ll receive a commission on any click-throughs or purchases you make through the affiliate links. As always, I appreciate your support! Today’s recommendations come from Kalindria, who is is a young-at-heart grandmother, writer, and dog lover who lives north of Seattle in a small town on Puget Sound with her longtime partner, Nick, and their dog, Ozzy. She recently retired as the global PR contact for the network security division of a major tech company and is enjoying time in with her grandchildren and writing/illustrating a book about Ozzy. Kalindria was diagnosed in 2013 with ovarian cancer and underwent fifteen months of chemo. She was cancer-free for two and a half years but recently had a recurrence. She’s now enrolled in a clinical trial and feeling great.
Kalindria reached out to me recently, writing: “Three years ago I wrote in the forum about my ovarian cancer diagnosis. Well, I beat it, but now it’s back. I’m about to start a new kind of chemo, a one-a-day pill. I am hopeful that I will kick it again.
My point is, I have become a resource for my friends who have a loved one diagnosed with cancer and want to know what they can give them to help them through chemo treatments. It’s a pretty specific audience, but I do have a list and would be happy to share it if you think other readers might be interested.”
I did, and she was kind enough to send over this amazing list, along with some advice and tips for speaking to cancer patients. First, her product recommendations:
This is one list of recommendations I hope no one ever needs. But if you have a friend or loved one who is facing chemotherapy or extended treatments for any condition, these recommendations may be helpful. These products really helped me deal with my fifteen months of chemo. One thing to keep in mind is that many chemo drugs significantly enhance the sense of smell, so unscented items are generally a better idea than anything with a scent. I packed a small duffel bag for my five to six-hour long chemo sessions with snacks, candy, a book, my sewing/embroidery, Kindle, iPhone, and charger, etc. Eventually, I took fewer things, but it’s good to have stuff to keep yourself occupied. Most infusion centers have some snacks (graham crackers, juice boxes, etc.) as well as a refrigerator and microwave for patients, but I took my own too.
Other staples in my duffle included a rich lip balm as chemo wreaks havoc on your skin, making it dry, itchy, and flaky; a good hand cream is also vital. This is another favorite unscented hand cream. To counteract frequent nausea, I used natural remedies like ginger tea, ginger chews, and Bach’s Rescue Remedy Pastilles. These last were suggested by a good friend who does energy healing and I swear by them. Because I am a writer, I received several journals and I particularly like this one in which recorded some of my journey.
I’m not a fan of wigs and my skin was irritated by a lot of textiles, so I opted for scarves instead. Mostly I got one-dollar scarves on eBay. A good friend sent me a pre-tied scarf which was great if I just wanted to dash out the door quickly without fussing. I also found Bolder Band – a great headband that stays in place, is comfortable, and offers attractive patterns. If you’re short on money and want to do something sweet, you can get a free scarf for cancer patients here. Every scarf comes with the story of a woman who has worn the scarf previously and won her battle. If you do gift a scarf, share this link on how to tie them. I got to be quite the expert! Scarves are great in warm climates or as an alternative to a wig.
And now, a few suggestions for speaking to cancer patients:
– Many newly diagnosed people don’t know this but, according to the American Cancer Society, every cancer patient is a survivor from the moment of their diagnosis. It may seem like wordsmithing but I found it helpful and positive.
– Don’t tell us we have the “good kind” of cancer – there’s no such thing.
– Don’t tell us about someone you know who died from cancer (any kind) – it’s not helpful. Really. In fact, don’t tell us about anyone else’s cancer unless we ask.
– Don’t ask about our prognosis or words to that effect. We know what we’re facing, we may not want to share, and, the way medical science is changing, no one really knows anyway.
– If you offer help, don’t expect us to have an answer for you. It’s really tough to ask for help, especially when you’ve been independent and active. Instead offer to drive us to chemo, to clean our apartment, to bring over a meal or pick up groceries (as about dietary restrictions – there can be a multitude), to walk the dog, etc.
– Be open to listening to your loved one’s experiences as it can be healing to talk to a willing listener.
– It’s OK to be at a loss for words and simply say, “I’m so sorry.” Gentle hugs are good too.
Thank you so much, Kalindria!! These are fantastic suggestions that I know will me helpful to some readers. Best wishes for a smooth and successful cancer treatment. We’re rooting for you!
If you have some products you’d like to recommend to the DW audience, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with links to five recommendations. (Write “reader recs” in the subject line, please). Your recommendations can be from any store or website, but they need to be accessible online. If your list is a good fit for the site, I’ll ask you to write a brief description of each item/explain what you love so much about it.