So on Friday I have my last Chemo! I also get my PICC Line removed, no more Robo-Arm. I know, right? I’m bound to go into detail, at some point, about how this is blowing my mind but for now I thought I’d offer up something far more practical and hopefully, useful.
Chemo is harsh. It’s harsh on all the cells in your body. They in turn start to freak out in many new and exciting(!) ways. Mainly by falling out (hello hair) and generally dying or getting really, really dry and sore. I’ve complied a list of all the things that I’ve tried that actually work, at least they work for me.
I’m a skin care and beauty junky so it’s pretty extensive and some are pricier than the average Pharmacy product. Sorry about that, I am who I am. The way I figure it, going through Chemo is a pretty good time to roll out some serious TLC. I try, no matter how rubbish I’m feeling, to look after my skin. Not only does it soothe the soles it soothes the soul (boom boom). At a time when I’m subjecting my body to a battery of hideous chemicals and I can’t protect it from the consequences; what gives me more feeling of control so doing what I can to make it feel better.
Also (and this sounds dumb), I’ve sometimes blamed my body for all of this and hated it. Instead of punishing it, I try to do some thing kind instead. It reminds me it’s not our fault, it’s just some rogue cells.
The TLC List:
I don’t know what I’d do without coconut oil, it is a staple, click above for more info on the benefits and multiple uses. I started of using it on my scars and my love blossomed from there. It’s great to cleanse your face with, sounds weird but it removes all sorts of grime and make-up while not stripping your face. The fact that it has antibacterial properties makes me feel like it’s helping with my weird post-chemo rashes. I use it on my scalp too (not if I’ve going bald in the sun obviously!) as it’s meant to strength hair and help with dandruff – I’m getting a head start! Use it on your body too and in your cooking. It’s brill.
Pai Rosehip Oil
Great for scars and great for your face. At night and presently during the day too (my skin hates me at the moment), I mix this is coconut oil and smother my face in a bid to appease it. It helps a great deal.
ByTerry Rose Baume De Rose
Ok, you are all going to choke if you click below and see the price of this. For a lip balm? I know appalling BUT severely chapped and bleeding lips are so sore and, trust me, you are going to be sore enough. Best treat the things you can. Incidentally, lip balms have always held a corner of my heart – I have tried a lot, a lot a lot. The greasy, petroleum jelly based ones DO NOT work on really chapped lips. Cheaper ones mostly slide off pretty quickly too. This one sticks around and offers sweet, sweet relief. I have had my pot since Summer 2013 (stress induced skin freak out) and have used it every evening before bed and I’ve still not finished it up. So, cost per wear is pretty low, that’s what I say!
Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask
If you are State side or have a friend who is, this is a slightly cheaper alternative to the above, it’s equally (or perhaps more) amazing.
Bodyshop Hemp Hand Cream
A very, very long time ago I used to work in The Bodyshop and this was a newish product. We used to sell out, have waiting lists and a constant stream of customers after this. These people had the sorest looking hands I have ever seen; eczema covered, chapped and bleeding hands. They swore this soothed them like nothing else. I now use it on my hands and feet.
When I’m not using the Hemp Hand Cream, I use Shea Butter. Click the link above for all the good properties. I like to use it to give my feet a good massage and my oddly scaly legs too. I’ve got an old tin from goodness knows where that I started using just to use darn thing up. Now I really hope it lasts until after chemo. It smells super yummy too.
Lush Dream Cream
Soothing, soothing body lotion that doesn’t offend my delicate sense of smell. It helps a lot with any itching but I do also use the coconut oil or shea butter as well – my skin is Sahara dry.
This Works Sleep Range
The pillow spray is amazing if pain or fears are keeping me awake.
Sensodyne Gentle Mouthrinse
I’ve not had any mouth worries, ulcers and the like, for which I am incredible grateful. This is the only thing I’ve been using constantly, so I included it here.
Soap and Glory Exfoliating Scrub Glove
This is going to seem like the last thing you want to do to grumpy skin but I think a light scrub has really helped. These are the softest and most cushioned ones I could find. I also thing it has helped to occasionally use them on my scalp, weirdly I have had some ingrown hairs up there! Who knew? This helps free them and prevent more. Just go gently and wash the gloves often, to prevent nasties breeding.
Philip Kinsley No Scent No Colour
Prior to all this, my scalp hated me. I was using this shampoo before I got sick, as it was the only thing that soothed me. I didn’t actually know it was formulated for chemo hair until later. I use it to clean my scalp now, an important step.
Laura Mercier Sheer Lip Colour
Sadly, steroids and Chemo have taken their toll and wearing make-up leaves me looking a lot like Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. My lovely Cousin S. sent me this lipstick in Baby Lips, it matches my (healthy and long gone) lip colour perfectly and is the only make-up I wear at the moment. It’s a sad time.
Dr Bronner’s liquid soap
This stuff as a tonne of uses and is mild enough for my weirdo skin.
I’ve stopped using antiperspirants daily, I figure my body has enough chemicals in it and it probably wants to expel them. Who am I to try to stop it? The deodorants below are very effective alternatives.
Think this one is an America only one, I’m afraid.
Glad Press and Seal food wrap
This is going to seem like an odd one but bear with. You need to keep your PICC line dry and away from infection, the hospital will suggest baths and cling film. I hate cling film; it never seemed to work, is a pain to try to wrap around your self and seems to slip off at a moments notice. Mum used to bring this stuff back from the states by the suitcase full and distribute it around the family. I have finally found its ultimate purpose. As it’s highly sticky and forms a tighter seal than cling, it is perfect for PICC line care. Just try not to think of the environment, Cancer is really bad for our planet. The link below is a similar product for those in the UK, I think you can get the GLAD version in ASDA and for silly money on Amazon.
DryPro Waterproof PICC Line Protector
I prefer showers and I love to swim, I was heart broken when I was told the PICC line would hinder me in this. I was told a big fat ‘NO’ to swimming, infections abound. I managed to find 1 nurse willing to hear me out. She was a PICC line expert who said, as I swim outdoors and provided I didn’t swim while my bloods were low, I could try it. I just needed to find a way of keeping the line protected. A’s mum found this and it has been a god-send. It does require help getting into, so if A or Dad are not around, it’s a no go. It really keeps everything dry while showering, it’s reasonable while swimming. The packaging suggests you can water ski but I’d contest that. It’s worth a look at but check with your medical professionals before taking the plunge (so to speak).
You’ve probably noticed that I’m using a number of natural products, mainly because I’ve adverse to adding more chemicals to my system. I think these are gentle and equally, if not more effective than their chemically laidened cousins.