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Items/Advice on Making Chemo Comfortable

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If there's information about this already posted, please just point me in the right direction.

Mom is scheduled to begin chemotherapy on Dec. 27th and I want to be prepared to make it as comfortable and easy on her as possible.

I've seen a list of some "must have's" during chemo which included:

-shower chair (check)

-disposable wipes (check)

-pill pulverizer (on the list)

-bed tray (check)

-adjustable wedge (check)

-water bottle (check)

Are there any items any of you recommend that could make this easier for her? Any advice?

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YOu are on the right track. I would not run out and worry about a shower chair unless mom can not stand in the shower now. Make sure she has a good neck pillow. Some facilities will give you one if they have a local group that makes them.

For the most part, Moms life will not change that drasically yet as far as recieving Chemo. It is important top watch for side effects of the chemo more so than Getting things. Just keep an eye on her the first 24 -48 hours to make sure of no real bad side effects. The Onc shoulld tell youy what to expect the first time out of the gateas far as side effects. Let tehm know if anything out of the normal happens, and it should not happen.Physically, nothing unusual will happen to change moms physical condition.

Good Luck with First round of Chemo, let us know how it goes and sending prayers for great results.

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Wow, you are off to a great start! I would suggest a few more things...

Water, water, water.

Watermelon (Dad loved this during chemo)

Hand sanitizer (keep everyone not healthy away, as it is best to keep away from germs during chemo)

Kleenexes (more for others than for mom, to avoid germs)


Pretzles or hand snacks around all the time. Any eating is a good thing and we found that dad would pick up something if it was around. He tended to get nauseus when he didn't have something in his tummy. We also had a bowl of pretzles by his nightstand so that when he would wake up to go tot he bathroom or something, he could even pop something at night to keep the ickies away at night.

Good luck and God bless...keep us posted

Oh yeah...also have on board a ton of support...in terms of countdowns, or spirit boosters, anything to let mom know that this part will not last forever...we used to repeat the mantra....Keep your eye on the prize dad!

God bless,


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Maybe magazines or a book or headphones and music so that she can keep occupied. My husband most enjoys listening to his headphones and being able to nod off during chemo. Also, I got a heating pad for my husband which was very comforting to him while he rests at home. I try to rub his neck and back as much as I have time because sometimes that is the best he feels all day.

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Always good to be "ahead" of this when possible!

I took my Mother in law to a "Wig" shop BEFORE the chemo to allow the owner to see her natural hair and we could make a pick before. We didnt have to purchase the piece just then but we knew what and where.

Not all people loose hair, but she did on day 13. Even if a wig is not something she will desire I have learned that the hair is a wonderful insulator. Even in her warm heated home, her head gets cold, so we purchased a beenie or cap I guess you'd call it, in the wig store, for her to wear around the house, she uses that quite a bit and not for vanity.

Just a thought for you, good that your seeking and getting ahead of it, You'll be a blessing to her!!

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I ordered my mom a few hair things from http://www.tlcdirect.org/ and I also got her Nioxin shampoo. Although my mom did not lose all of her hair, she had gemzar/carbo.

As others said, my mom said water is the best thing.

It is soooo scary at first. I honestly made calls to see if I could have private ambulances on call to take my mom to the hospital b/c the one we use is not the local one, I envisioned her needing a bed downstairs, etc.

However, looking back, in the scheme of things, while chemo was no walk in the picnic, my mom handled it surprisingly well, she hardly lost weight (maybe 20lbs which is not much since she is chubby), and she admitted she thought it would be worse.

Also, keep in mind, blood counts can go low during chemo, sometimes the patient needs a small transfusion or needs to skip a visit, etc, etc. Do NOT be alarmed b/c that is NORMAL. I freaked out at that first too ;)

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Good for you for getting on top of everything before hand. I'm sure your Mom takes comfort in the fact you're there to help in any way you can.

The suggestions above are excellent. The only thing that I would add is an extra pair of ears and a notepad to write things down. She'll likely be prescribed additional drugs to take home to counteract nausia and maybe some stool softeners. Make sure your Mom follows the pharmacists directions. My Mom was always one for following directions until chemo. She didn't always take her anti-nausia drugs because they made her constipated and she didn't follow directions with the stool softeners either. I think it made things a little more difficult than it needed to be.

You may also want to help in keeping track of symptoms that arise and report them to the pharmacist so they can provide the best care possible.

Good luck. Let us know how it goes.


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Are you planning to go with her to her first chemo appt? If so, bring some reading material and/or a DVD player.

Take along some fruit or snacks your mom may like. Plan on being there ALL DAY for the first visit. They have a lot to do, and probably will start with drawing labs and waiting for the bloodwork to come back before setting her up with the chemo.

Watch the IV site carefully. take note if you see a swelling or redness appear, and note if she complains of a burning in that area. Sometimes the vein gets "blown out" and the IV fluids go into the surrounding soft tissues. This needs immediate nurse attention. They will stop the infusion and pick a new IV site.

She may doze off during the infusion.

She may feel pretty good the first time, but the side effects add up and will be much more pronounced as she goes through more treatments. She will probably notice a pattern to some of the side effects. Everyone reacts differently, so just take note of when things occur.

Bless you for being so on the ball!


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variety pack carnation instant breakfast, boost, ensure...just in case. A good pet? Mine was a comfortable, quiet old friend named Tim. He layed at my feet or on top of my side/hip or on the top of the couch to keep me company. He was the greatest cat who was patient and understood I needed him close but not too close.

Cindi o'h

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Bless you for being such a wonderful son. You have a beautiful Mother!

Can't think of anything other than a nice firm pillow to hold against her side when she coughs (if she has that symptom). That helped with the pain for hubby.

He has always used a stool in the shower because of his oxygen needs, so it's not a bad thing to have already if she feels weak after chemo.

Good luck!


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Thank you all for the great advice. Keep it coming.

Cindi O'h, I think we've got that covered. Here are a few pictures of my mom's beloved Lucy (black chihuahua) and my Marcy (silver mini schnauzer). As you can see, Lucy spends her days sitting on her hind legs in my mom's lap.





(also notice Mom's Nicotrol Inhaler. Still uses it but hasn't smoked a cigarette in over a month.)

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My husband is exactly half way though his chemo, and I thought I had it covered in advance...but I didn't. Many things I assumed he would need, he didn't, and I actually failed to have a lot of things that we ended up needing. Here are the things that come to mind:

Lots of regular drugstore painkller - we always tried that before the prescription stuff, and it worked most of the time (i.e., ibuprofen.)

A good, quick thermometor (have had several flash fevers...I recommend the best ones that Walgreens, etc, has.)

A blender - he cannot stand thr smell of meat cooking, so we do a lot of smoothies. You can sneak a lot of nutrients into a smoothie!

Lots of bland, carb type foodsd..oatmeal, English muffins, mashed potato mix, cottage cheese. others here can probably advise you well on this category.

A heating pad - It somehow helps the muscular aches and pains that come with chemo.

Stool softeners or mild laxatives. I personally wish I had been proactive about this one in advance - it has probably been his most severe symptom. If we had it to do over again, I'd insist that he take something from chemo Day 1 onward, whether he "needs it" or not.

My husband has had a moderately hard time with chemo side effects, but not a horrible time. His case has probably been average. I have found it to be like taking care of someone who has the flu or something similar.

Again, your Mom is tremendously blessed to have you. She must be one heck of a Mom!

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Hi Mitchell,

Eveything everyone has told you here is fine. Some things you will use, some you won't. But like you said you want to be prepared.

I found this hand held massager at Target (cost $30.00) it has 2 prongs with 2 massaging tips on them plus 3 more interchangable ones. It was wonderful for his aches and pains for his back and legs. It saved me all the massaging I used to do on him. Even though he really likes the hands on treatment, which I still do as a treat. :D

I also saw an ad in the Target circular that has a massager with 4 prongs and has heat.

Also, make sure you have a precription for neasuea in case she needs it. Joel has the script filled just in case, but fortuntely never used it

Good luck, you mom will be fine, especially having you there to nurse her through this.

Bye the way Mitchell, who is the baby in the picture.

Maryanne :wink:

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You have got a lot of good tips here Mitchell.

Some people like to have an infusion of benadryl before the chemo so they can nod off during the chemo. I tried it once and did not like it. I would rather sit and just stare off into space or talk to my neighbors. Also, you would have to have someone lined up to drive your mom home.

Don M

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Just a thought about painkillers. Check with the Onc. on what to give your Mom. Depending on the chemo she receives, tylenol may be the only over the counter item that she can take. Tony was told not to take ibuprofen, etc. during his chemo. Can't remember why anymore.

I don't know what chemo they will be giving your Mom, but we were told to give my hubby up to 600 mg per day of B-6 to help with any peripheral neuropathy problems. (He started on this at least a week before receiving chemo and never had a problem in this area.) If she will be getting chemo that produces mouth sores, have Biotene mouthwash on hand and B-50 to help. Tony's mouthsores vanished after starting on B-50.

Again, always check with your Mom's Oncologist before taking any supplements, etc. They need to know everything she is taking to make sure there is no drug/chemical interaction.

I'm sure that they told you before chemo begins they will administer what we call a "goodie bag" of steroids, benedryl, and I think something else. This is given to reduce the chance of an allergic reaction to any of the taxene chemotheraputic agents. They will let her sit for up to 45 minutes until that is through her system before beginning the actual chemo. I'm sure you will have a little "class session" with the nurses before your Mom begins treatment, so she knows what to expect.

Good luck again!


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