Whether you’re going in for your first ever chemotherapy infusion or your sixth round of treatment, you may find it helpful to pack a bag of items to get you through the day.
Depending on the medications you receive, infusion sessions for metastatic breast cancer (MBC) can take hours. Some treatments can cause you to become sleepy or dehydrated. You may also find yourself uncomfortable sitting in one place for an extended period of time.
The best advice often comes from those who’ve gone through similar experiences. So, we asked women with MBC what their must-haves for infusion days are. Here’s what they said.
“Cozy socks, sweater, water bottle, hard candies, snacks. A different companion every week and a focus on checking another one off!” — Sarah K.
“Comfy blankets and good company.” — Kim A.
It’s possible that your treatments may make you feel cold or the temperature in the infusion room itself may be chilly. Because of this, you might find it helpful to bring a blanket or sweater to layer up. Also, if you have a port, consider wearing comfortable clothing that your nurse can easily access.
Since your infusion may take hours, blankets and pillows can help you get in a cozy position, especially if you start to feel tired.
“I always try to get the last appointment of the day when I have chemo — that way I can have an entire day where I feel pretty good, get my infusion, then go home and go right to bed. My biggest must-have for chemo has been ice-pack socks! My chemo so far has been very neurotoxic and putting on the ice pack socks about 20 minutes prior to my chemo infusion has helped a ton with neuropathy. My other must-have is a spare cell phone battery charger. I always seem to run out of battery as soon as I sit down for chemo!” — Emily G.
“Someone to have good conversation with. A good attitude and laughter.” — Amanda H.
Support is key
It’s normal to feel nervous or anxious on infusion days. Having a friend or family member join you can ease your worries.
Support from others living with MBC and your loved ones throughout treatment is an important aspect of your care. One study found that women with more social support had a higher quality of life after a breast cancer diagnosis.
When you have someone with you who you can talk to for hours, time seems to go by quicker. They can also offer a helping hand with tasks. You may be able to drive yourself to and from treatments, but in case you feel exhausted, let a friend take the wheel.
You’ll likely be seated in a room where others are receiving treatment, so spark a conversation with someone next to you. If you have questions or concerns, you can always talk to your nurse.
“Snacks, tea, eye mask, neck pillow, headphones, a good book, and peppermint oil to rub on your nose to block out gross smells!” — Sarah B.
“My husband bought me the Golden Girls series.” — @kls0806
Bring something to entertain you
The clinic you go to may have a TV or magazines to look at while you’re there, but you may quickly get bored of their options. Bring your laptop to watch binge-worthy shows or movies, or headphones to listen to relaxing music. If you’re a bookworm, grab a story you can’t put down to make the hours go by faster.
If you have a family member or friend joining you, grab some board games or cards to play. Engaging in activities can help you get your mind off of treatment.
“Comfy clothes like the Care and Wear shirt for easy port access, phone charger and charge bank, great company (because with a good friend, spouse, or companion, five hours of infusion can feel like 30 minutes), a great show you can binge watch (my go-to shows are “Nailed It!”, “Parks and Recreation,” “The Office,” “Downton Abbey,” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), and a deck of cards to play solitaire, War, or Go Fish.” — Liz M.
Infusions for MBC can be both physically and mentally exhausting. Packing a bag to bring with you to each session can make treatment a bit more bearable. A talkative companion can also raise your spirits — and maybe even make you laugh. Your comfort is important during infusions, so preparation can make a big difference.