Tuesday, 7 January 2014

My Top 10 Hospital Essentials for Cancer Patients

 When you're diagnosed with cancer, it normally means that you have long stays in hospital. When I was first admitted I stayed in hospital for 3 weeks, managed to get home for a couple of days and then I got an infection so I had to be carted straight back into hospital for another long stay. SO, I have come up with a list of the Top 10 essentials I found really useful during my hospital stays (and when I was home) which I will go through with you one by one!

1. Carmex.
The original little jar was definitely a big must for me. The problem I found once I was put on a cocktail of drugs and then having chemo on top of that, was it really took its toll on my body, especially my skin. My lips became very dry, which meant whenever I went to talk or yawn, (which was quite often... even though I spent most of my time asleep haha!) My lips would crack making them even worse. BUT my lovely mother came in after a trip to Superdrug armed with a little pot of Carmex for me and ta daaa! It did not disappoint! If I put this product on at night, when I woke up at breakfast time, my lips still felt just as moisturised as when I'd put the product on before bed. This, I have no doubt, is all down to the camphor and menthol formula Carmex use and the addition of petrolatum, which creates a long lasting barrier. After just a couple of days of use, my lips felt and looked so much better!

2. Sally Hansen - Miracle cure.
My nails have always broken easily, but when I started my treatment they became a lot dryer, developed ridges and started peeling. Sally Hansen's Miracle Cure treatment was sent to me by a friend of my Mum's who had recently been through cancer. She sent me some other really thoughtful and useful gifts, but this was one of my favourites! On Sally's website she has high promises for her product, including 'instantly strengthened and reinforced nails' as well as stopping peeling. The application is simple, shake the bottle, then apply a thin coat to your nails every other day. Since I started using this product back in June, my nails are in much better condition. Although they still have a few ridges in them, (which my little sister likes to point at occasionally accompanied by an "Eeew! That's so gross!") They have stopped peeling completely and are much stronger! This product definitely lives up to it's promises.

3. Palmer's Cocoa Butter - Intensive Relief Hand Cream.
This products is like putting on a pair of velvet gloves! My hands became very dry and sometimes if I'd had a cannula in my hand, the sticky plaster that held it in place would often cause my skin to peel off once it was removed. Palmer's definitely worked it's intensive softening and soothing magic as after a week my hands were back to normal and I have continued to use this moisturiser every day because I love it so much!

4. Dove - Purely Pampering Nourishing Lotion.
Like my hands, the rest of my skin also suffered and became very dry and began to peel. Dove products always feel so beautiful and soft on my skin and their purely pampering nourishing lotion was no exception! With the added ingredient of shea butter to 'deeply nourish and soften your skin' my own skin was almost back to normal within a couple of weeks. I would 100% recommend this product.

5. Veet - In Shower Hair Removal Cream (Sensitive Skin.)
Part of the package of being diagnosed with Leukaemia is that your blood doesn't clot like it should, so for me I had to be very aware of the fact when I was let home, I had to be careful around our cats to avoid being scratched. Shaving posed another problem. On my medication I became very shakey at times, which made shaving my legs without taking a chunk of skin off a problem. This is where Veet comes in. You can get the tubey version or you can get a pump dispenser version, (the latter is much easier to use) and then you just slap it on, wait for 5 minutes, then using either the sponge or spatula provided wash it off in the shower. It's as simple as that! It doesn't have that gone off smell like other hair removal brands and it leaves your skin soft, smooth and moisturised! Definitely a must have if you don't fancy risking it with a razor. 

6. Batiste - Dry Shampoo. 

One thing I found difficult was washing my hair, the first two lots of chemo I had only caused my hair to thin, so it still remained the length it was... just thinner! However I did have a line in my arm and if I'm being honest I'm not very good at multitasking. Washing my hair would involve holding the shower head, applying the shampoo, rinsing it out whilst holding the shower head and then repeating these steps with the conditioner, all whilst trying not to get my arm wet with my line in. I just couldn't do it. Luckily that was where my Chief Hair Washer came in AKA my Mum! She would come in and don a plastic apron, roll up her trousers and stand bare footed washing my hair for me. All I had to do was stand there with my head bent under the shower head, while she had a great time laughing at me whenever she changed the water from hot to cold! This is where dry shampoo comes in. It promises to make your hair look and smell fresh if you don't have enough time to wash it... and it actually worked. All you have to do is spray a bit into your hair, roughly massage it in and then you're good to go... (which in my case was back to bed.) But it kept my hair feeling fresher and non greasy in between hair washes which is exactly what I was looking for.

7. Sensodyne - Pronamel.
Half way through my treatment I found that my teeth had become very sensitive, so sensitive in fact that drinking water at room temperature still gave me a bit of a shock, as did eating a hot meal. This time Dad came to the rescue and bought me a tube of Sensodyne toothpaste. After a couple of weeks the sensitiveness of my teeth had improved greatly and drinking water was no longer giving me a shock when it came into contact with my teeth. This is the only brand of sensitive toothpaste I have used and found to have worked.

8. Snack box!
Even though my snack box says 'My VERY Healthy Snacks' I have to admit that it was pretty much always filled with chocolate! Hehe. Having said that I did on occasion have it filled with muesli bars or cereal bars, which I would definitely recommend, as it gave me something to snack on during the day or in the middle of the night if I had a sudden urge of hunger!

9. Bra Top/ Crop Top.
This little bra top, I can honestly say was one of THE best things I packed in my hospital bag and is a great little alternative to a bra when you find yourself in hospital and lying in bed most of the day and night. These ones were from Marks and Spencer and came in a pack of two. They're soft and comfortable to wear and there are no wires in them like you find in a bra, so it meant no faffing around and taking it off when I went for x-rays which was a massive bonus! A definite must have!

10. Photo.
The picture of my photo is of me when I was little with my Mum and my Dad. I kept it by my bed when I was in hospital on my table. It was reassuring for me to have it there, especially at night when I'd feel a bit rubbish and down about everything going on. It's nice to look at a photo of your parents/ family/ friends, to know that they're there in spirit at that moment, if not actually in the room with you. They love you and they'll be there for you through the ups and the downs, so don't give up, it's just a little positive reminder. 

And of course, don't forget to pack a pair of cosy pyjamas! 😊

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