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What Size Tote Bag?

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lw422
lw422 Member Posts: 1,410

Hello all. I know this sounds like a goofy question, but I'm thinking ahead to my looming chemo and wondering how much "stuff" I will be dragging to each session. Can you give me some idea of what I need or want to take along, and what size tote bag might work best? I bought a large tote but it seems HUGE and maybe a little silly.

Since I have no idea what goes on at chemo, do I need to bring a blanket or do they provide them? I have ordered the cold-pack socks and and a small canvas cooler, but I don't want to buy a bunch of stuff that will turn out to be a waste.

I have seen the "preparing for chemo" posts which are helpful, but I'm struggling with how much of that needs to ride along with me and what can wait at home. I apologize if this has been covered in other posts; I'm not finding the search feature very user friendly. Thanks in advance.

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  • ShetlandPony
    ShetlandPony Member Posts: 3,063
    edited January 2021
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    I took my cold socks and gloves, and snacks, in a tall cooler that had wheels and a telescoping handle (like luggage), then balanced a usual-sized tote bag with my iPad, purse, etc. on top of it. I like having the wheels much better than lugging something heavy when I am tired. The nurses were always happy to provide warm blankets.

  • moth
    moth Member Posts: 3,293
    edited January 2021
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    At my chemo room they provide an endless supply of warm blankets and pillows. There are also drinks - water, juice or ginger ale. Back before covid there were volunteers with a snack cart but not anymore. You don't need a huge bag. My packing list is a water bottle, a small snack, my phone or ipad and headphones, kleenex pkg, hat & shawl. I often watched an episode of a show on netflix on my ipad while hands were in the mitts. I bring an extra hat and scarf just because I sometimes get cold with the icing socks & mitts.

    hth!


  • lw422
    lw422 Member Posts: 1,410
    edited January 2021
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    Thanks, y'all. Sounds like I have no use for a large tote at all. I have a good size hobo handbag that will carry plenty of stuff, so I'll just use the small canvas cooler for my cold socks.

    I appreciate the tips!

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,190
    edited January 2021
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    LW - you should visit your chemo infusion room. They'll usually let you take a tour. Maybe with a nurse navigator?

    Some have drinks & blankets. Some not. Some are individual cubicles separated by curtains - or even walls. Mine was one big room. Some order out lunch for anyone who wants (you pay of course). I agree about wheels. I brought a small wheeled cooler with my cokes & peas for icing my hands & feet but they let me put the 2nd round of peas in their freezer to keep colder. I am ALWAYS cold so I took a jacket, a stocking cap & gloves (when I wasn't icing) in addition to their warm blankets. I brought my own snacks. A book, a phone, an MP3 player (yeah it was awhile ago). If you're going by yourself, as I did, the wheels are particularly important.

    You really won't know everything you'll need until after the first pass. If you have someone to go buy drugs & things for you down the road as things come up - you're covered. I did not, so I had to guess at things and probably over prepared.

  • lw422
    lw422 Member Posts: 1,410
    edited January 2021
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    Hello -2. I'd like to take a tour, but I'm not even sure where I'll get my chemo treatments. I asked the doctor if I'd be getting chemo in the Mays Breast Cancer Clinic at MDA and the answer was "probably". Apparently if there are a lot of people receiving chemo, I could be assigned to the main MDA building or other location. There are even satellite locations around Harris county (League City, The Woodlands, etc.) and I could potentially have to travel to one of those.

    I read that some ladies carry 2 frozen water bottles to hold in their hands instead of wearing the gloves so I'm thinking about that.

  • mountainmia
    mountainmia Member Posts: 857
    edited January 2021
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    If you don't have a port, you'll have IV into your arm most likely. If that happens, you do NOT want to be wearing a jacket or something with sleeves. A shawl or poncho without sleeves, which you can pull on/off over your head if needed, will work much better. It was a mistake I made once. :) Good luck!

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,190
    edited January 2021
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    Frozen peas work better than water bottles because they are flexible.

    You're right about satellites. I had my radiation at MDA Katy. Still - I expect all of MDA's infusion suites are set up with a similar pattern. Next time you're there just stamp your foot & tell them you want to see an infusion room or suite.

    BTW - if you post this on the 'tips for chemo' thread, you'll probably get lots more answers.

  • lw422
    lw422 Member Posts: 1,410
    edited January 2021
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    Thank you, Mia. I'll be having a port installed but I love hearing any tips!

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,190
    edited January 2021
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    I went out bought a couple of button up shirts at someplace cheap. Some flannel and some cotton. You could button up to the port or let the lines come out between the buttons.

    And did we talk about ports somewhere? If you don't want it to rub on your bra, someone told me to draw my bra line with a sharpie on my chest before surgery & tell the surgeon - not there. She thought it was perfect.

  • lw422
    lw422 Member Posts: 1,410
    edited January 2021
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    Thanks -2. I think I've gotten the info I wanted. I mainly wondered if I'd be dragging blankets from home, haha.

    Which side of town are you on? My youngest son lives in Conroe and I'm on the east side of the county in an unincorporated area.

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,190
    edited January 2021
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    I'm in the "near" northwest by Beltway 8.

    When your treatment is all over (oh yes, and when Covid is tamed) - we should do lunch. Get JavaJava to come in from Woodvillle and I'll see if I can round up some of the other BCO ladies I've met over the years who are no longer active on the boards.

  • lw422
    lw422 Member Posts: 1,410
    edited January 2021
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    I briefly talked about ports in one of the other threads, but only to mention that I should be getting one within the next couple of weeks. Thanks for the bra tip; I can't stand it when stuff "rubs." I have some button-front shirts.

  • lw422
    lw422 Member Posts: 1,410
    edited January 2021
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    Lunch sounds like a great idea, -2. We'll have to round up Beesy and others in the area to come, after the stupid covid is over so we can all hug.

  • WC3
    WC3 Member Posts: 658
    edited January 2021
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    I took nothing but keys, phone and wallet and I didn't use any of them. I spent most of my infusion too groggy from the benadryl to do anything while simultaneously trying to tolerate the discomfort of the cold cap and watching the level in the IV bag drop. My mother would drive me home and I would crawl straight in to bed and fall asleep.

  • mountainmia
    mountainmia Member Posts: 857
    edited January 2021
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    How much stuff you take might also depend on how long your appointments are. Some things take a long time to infuse, while others don't. I took way too much, things I thought I'd read, sudoku books and pens, etc. Really with all the activity of getting prepped, and then monitoring while it was done, and finishing, I don't think I read more than a couple of pages of anything. I did use my phone some to look at Instagram or play a game. Really that was all.

  • beesy_the_other_one
    beesy_the_other_one Member Posts: 170
    edited January 2021
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    LW,

    I bought a tote bag with wheels that I would put in the mail to you if it's something you would want. I used it to haul cool packs (I iced hands and feet), iPad, etc. But to do over, I'm not sure I would buy it. I'd love to send it to you if it would help you. I could mail it tomorrow if you PM me your address. It would be better than it rotting in my closet. 😉

    Yes, Minus, when LW finishes treatment and Covid is in the rearview mirror, let's have a party! I am so ready for a party!

  • lw422
    lw422 Member Posts: 1,410
    edited January 2021
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    Thanks so much for all the info, everyone. Heart I'll probably just start out with my iPad and a snack and see how it goes. I got my chill-socks today from Amazon but I think I'm going to skip the "mitts".

    Beesy--how sweet of you to offer the wheeled tote! I think I'll wait on that and see how it goes with just minimal "stuff." I appreciate your generous offer, though... very much.

    I hope we can all get the Houston/MDA party rolling one day soon; I would love to meet and hug you all.

  • iamloved
    iamloved Member Posts: 197
    edited January 2021
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    My center had snacks and I could order lunch if I wanted and it was complimentary 😁 I was fasting so I did not take advantage of the snack or lunch but with herceptin I have had lunch. Also check to see if your center has a freezer. I would drop my gloves and booties off in the freezer before I met with my oncologist and the staff would bring them to me before I started my taxatore. So a cooler wasn't necessary. I too was pretty sleepy from the benadryl and slept until it was time for the taxatore. I always brought my Snoozie Slippers. Just felt cozy to me. I brought my own throw the first few times but stopped when I downsized my tote. Side note...I had one of my essential oils to smell when they flushed the port. Some say it keeps the metal taste out of your mouth and throat. Worked! Good luck.

  • illimae
    illimae Member Posts: 5,650
    edited January 2021
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    I just take a bag big enough for my iPad and snacks but MDA gives you lunch (sandwich, chips, fruit). A V neck shirt is best for post access, so you can avoid stretching out you collar. Most infusions are done in main or satellite locations to avoid crowds. Good luck!

  • lw422
    lw422 Member Posts: 1,410
    edited January 2021
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    I am loved-- "flush the port????" OMG, what the heck is that?? image alt="">

  • lw422
    lw422 Member Posts: 1,410
    edited January 2021
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    Hi there, illimae! Another Houstonian to join the party!! Thanks for the info. Which side of town are you on? (And a "duh" question... are infusions the same thing as chemo?)

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,190
    edited January 2021
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    Hey Mae - I hope you'll be a part of a Houston lunch group. Even though it may be the end of the year, we'll plan a day when you are here for tests - instead of there. Beesy - for sure. And I need to get back in touch with JB Dayton.

    Funny - several other locations have active ongoing groups. (think Hill Country or the ladies in Florida). I've been fortunate to have lunch with some Texas ladies, but somehow Houston could never keep a group going.

  • illimae
    illimae Member Posts: 5,650
    edited January 2021
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    LW, hi, I’m NW, near 290/hwy 6 and yup, I’m up front lunch anytime. Also, an infusion is IV treatment, chemo being the most common but if you want to get technical other things like fluids for dehydration, immunotherapy drugs, etc are infused but not considered actual chemotherapy.

    If you’re not able to have a guest at your first chemo, ask the nurse to stay with you for at least 15 minutes. Try not to worry but there is the tiniest rare situation where a person might have a reaction to chemo. The odds are super low, like 2% and could be back pain, hives, blood pressure changes, etc. but it’s best to keep an eye out. I think the nurse stays for the first one anyway, just a tip.

  • ShetlandPony
    ShetlandPony Member Posts: 3,063
    edited January 2021
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    I found out about that after my first taxol infusion. Then I realized that the nurse who hung around puttering and click-clacking on the computer was casually watching me like a hawk. Great nurse.

  • lw422
    lw422 Member Posts: 1,410
    edited January 2021
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    Thanks, Jana. I've got so much to learn; you guys are AWESOME.

  • lw422
    lw422 Member Posts: 1,410
    edited January 2021
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    Thanks so much, illimae. I truly hope we Houston and MDA posters can all meet up someday and have a few laughs and hugs.

    I can't have anyone with me for chemo, so I'll be a nervous wreck all by myself just as in every step of the way so far. Thanks, Covid!! :cursing:

    It's so great to have this input from all of you; I am humbled by your generous spirits and hopeful that we all come out of this nightmare someday soon.

  • illimae
    illimae Member Posts: 5,650
    edited January 2021
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    LW, there’s a Facebook group called Mets Connect where some of us MDA patients coordinate meeting for a snack, waiting for appointments or just waving hello, if we’re there on the same day. Just FYI :)

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,190
    edited January 2021
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    LW - I drove myself, by myself to chemo in the medical center every time. And home again after 8 hours of infusions. Easily 45 min to an hour. And then to the second round of chemo infusions after surgery. No need to panic. Don't even think about being "a wreck". You will be FINE and everyone at MDA is very helpful.

    BTW - I also drove myself to rads by myself every time. That drive and the time to get changed before & after & then home again was 10x as long as a 5 minute zap.

  • lw422
    lw422 Member Posts: 1,410
    edited January 2021
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    Aw, -2!! You should let me panic... you know I've got cancer!! :crybaby: This is scary stuff for a goober like me!! (And thanks for the reality check. Sometimes I need it.)

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,190
    edited January 2021
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    Well there really ARE times it's reasonable to play the "cancer card", but you're going forward girl!!! Of course your scared. We all were AND are. So should we mention big girl panties?? But as has often been said - you don't have to put your best foot forward or have a smile on your face. You just have to show up.