Friday, September 27, 2013

Comfort Kit (a.k.a. Chemo Kit) - 3 year Reboot

You ever have one of those idea that you think is a good one, but you don't exactly know how or where it is going to go?  Nearly three years ago - thanks to my dear friend and (fast) running partner, Christa Pryor, I had one.  I was complaining, as I often did/do to her, that there was just not enough material support for newly diagnosed patients at TCH.  I felt like I should have been given a list of easily attainable items that upon meeting with our oncologist, she would have handed me.  Then I wouldn't have felt so lost, out of control.

I know now I would have felt lost and out of control no matter what she'd told me.  But in my rant, I told her there were some essentials that really would have helped us  (ok, me) as we prepared for the long haul of treatment.  Even then, a trip to the Target would have soothed my soul in a season of constant chaos.

I can't believe just two months after Sophia was diagnosed, I published this post about "Chemo Kits."  I can tell by reading it I was desperate to contribute something.  Anything. Since then, I've consulted with groups wanting to put these kits - now called Comfort Kits - together.  I've put more than 15 together myself.  So, the list can be tweaked from the original. 

It's been a real blessing to pay forward the love we received during Sophia's treatment and incredible to see how different people will use this small idea to bless others.  The items in the kits seem so simple and you can generally get most of them at the Dollar Store (including the basket). When someone comes up along side to gift you with useful tools for your journey, it can make all the difference in the world.  I know that as the truth!

If I can help you in any way - putting one together for a loved one, or assist a group you are involved with in getting these ready for donation - please email me at  I love to be involved as well as pray for people fighting cancer!

Basic Ingredients:
Medium size basket
Travel size Purell
Travel size Kleenex
Travel size hand wipes or baby wipes

Travel size brush
Travel size toothbrush & toothpaste
Moisturizer & Chapstick - hospitals are dry and some chemos can dry out your skin and lips.
Notebook & Folder - for writing down what doctors & nurses say, appointments, etc. and tracking all the paperwork you get
Box of Pens - cause you never have one when you need one
Activity books - such as crossword puzzles, Sudko, Word Finds, etc.  (I vary this based on age, for younger kids, I often include small stuffed animals and toys.)
Copy of Rober J. Morgan's The Red Sea Rules - a book I read while Sophia was in treatment.  It really speaks to the heart of someone in a crisis.
Pocket Size New Testament
Reusable Water Bottle
Pack of Gum, Mints, Lifesavers or Hard Candies - Your breath can turn sour from some chemos plus it helps stimulate salivation, thereby appetite.  Most cancer patients have weight loss issues so this can help "trick" the body into thinking about eating anyways. 
"Great Expectations" Note - A letter of encouragement and advice on the process (can be from me or you)

Other items to consider:
Ingredients for "Magic Mouthwash": (Best kept secret in oncology.)  Children's Liquid Allergy Medicine (has to be liquid) + Maalox.  Mix 2.5 ml or so of each together and swish in your mouth, as well as gargle if you can.  Do that several times a day.  It numbs mouth ulcers and helps heal them very quickly.  Much better than the saltwater oncology mouthwash they give you at first.  (Got this recipe the hard way: Thanksgiving Day 2010 Sophia couldn't eat/swallow because the ulcers were so bad.  This cocktail is what the on-call oncologist at TCH suggested.)
Straws and "Ensure" like drinks: Cancer patients can have a hard time swallowing, so if they can sip on something that will give them some calories but won't overload their system, so much the better.  And sometimes water gets old.
Granola/Protein Bars: Caregivers forget to take care of themselves, so having a stash of these will help both them and the patient in case food isn't readily available.
Parking Chips - Helps with one of the out-of-pocket expenses of patients and caregivers
Gift Cards - Target, Walmart, Pizza Hut, iTunes, Starbucks, McDonald's, etc.
Aquafor - Best for a patient getting radiation.  Helps coat and protect the skin from the burns.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amy, thank you so much for doing this! It is such a blessing to others to do this. Please pray that Sherry is healed from gallbladder cancer. God bless you! CK