Clea's Self-Care Essentials While Going Through Chemo

Clea's must-haves for surviving, not thriving her way through chemo
Clea's Self-Care Essentials While Going Through Chemo
It's been almost a year since I finished chemotherapy and radiation, and wow...what a journey! When I first got diagnosed, I had absolutely no idea how I would do this. Or even if I could do this. How would my body react to treatment? Would it be as horrible as people say it is? As my treatment sessions progressed, I was surprised at how quickly I adapted to my new normal. I learned to manage my symptoms, listen to my body, and find the silver lining. 
Of course, chemotherapy is still an extremely grueling process, but it's one that saved my life. Leaning into what made me feel even a little bit better helped to ease my anxiety and feel more in control of a situation that felt uncontrollable. Here is a roundup of items that helped me, and can very well help you too. 

1. Ice Mitts

So, here’s a not so fun fact: One of the side effects of chemotherapy, specifically Taxol, is neuropathy (aka nerve damage). To avoid this, they recommend cold therapy, which is when these ice mitts enter the chat. I deeply dislike wearing them but they get the job done. They also make me look like that Bernie Sanders meme, which I guess you could say is a plus.

Ice Mitts

2. Ice Socks

Another cold therapy product that I deeply dislike but gets the job done. 

Ice Socks

3. Port Access Shirts

When all I have to do is unzip my shirt to get chemo, it’s less effort for me and also my nurses. Care + Wear is my favorite brand so far.  They are extremely comfortable, pair well with yoga pants, and come in a variety of colors. They even have a designer line from Oscar De La Renta. If I’m getting chemo, then I might as well make it chic. FYI: These shirts are also perfect for someone who is breastfeeding. 

Care + Wear x Oscar de la Renta Port Access Hoodie

Care + Wear Port Access Shirts

4. Satin Turbans

As much as I love my wigs, headwraps are easier to manage when I’m on zero battery. Not surprisingly, I have one in every color and it’s only a matter of time before I give them names and personalities. Stay tuned. 

SILKE London Satin Turban

Twist Headwrap

Velvet Headband

5. Barefoot Dreams Socks

If I tell you about a cozier pair of socks, I would. But I can’t. These are worth every penny. 

Barefoot Dreams Socks

6. Cozy Blanket

I give this one a 10/10 considering it keeps me warm when I’m wearing LITERAL ICE ON MY HANDS AND TOES. 

Cozy Blanket

Travel Blanket

7. Cardigan

Much more practical than a bathrobe. (Sorry, Joanna!) Here’s my recent go-to. It looks and feels identical to Barefoot Dreams but is a lot more affordable! 

Barefoot Dreams Cardigan

Rails Robe

8. Queasy Pops

The plant extracts in these lollipops help reduce nausea. Not sure the science behind it but whoever invented them deserves some kind of award. Honestly, I suggest everyone keep a few on hand at all times.

Queasy Pops

9. Aquaphor

Chemo can also make your skin super dry, so it’s smart to go back to basics and stay away from anything with essential oils or a harsh fragrance. Aquaphor is my favorite because I’m all about an all-purpose solution. I use it on my entire body, even as a lip balm. Right now, I have my purse Aquaphor, my home Aquaphor, and a car Aquaphor. Thankfully, it’s affordable and available in multi-packs! (Side note: I’m weird about texture and thought I would hate anything that described itself as an “ointment” but I’m pleasantly surprised!) 


10. Large Totes

Stoney Clover Lane is one of my favorite brands of all time. They sent me a personalized bag right when I started chemo and it makes me happy everytime I look at it. But most importantly, it fits everything I need to take back and forth from treatment. 

Stoney Clover Large Tote

Stoney Clover Mini Tote

11. Colleen Hoover Books

 It’s impossible to go anywhere these days without someone recommending Colleen Hoover books. So, here I am, recommending them. They are suspenseful and interesting, which makes them the perfect distraction. I read them all on my Kindle but here are links to the physical copies for the paper people:

It Ends With Us


Ugly Love

12. Snack Pouch

 I’ll never leave the house without my emergency purse snacks, specifically tortillas. You just never know! These are my go-to pouches for keeping food fresh and avoiding any spillage. 

Snack Pouch

Stasher Reusable Storage Bags

13. AirPods Pro

True crime podcasts have always been my favorite way to unwind. I listen with AirPods due to the fact that some people are disturbed by the gory details? Hm, can’t relate. Another plus: Since they are cordless, I can wear them under my headwrap and nothing gets in the way during treatment. 

AirPods Pro

Casetify AirPods Case

Silicone Case

14. Reclining Chair

My rock, my queen, my everything. We’ve been through some tough times together and she always has my back. Even though mine is a rental from a medical supply store, she’s family nonetheless. Linking one from Amazon if you want to go that route.

Reclining Chair

I could keep going with this list but I’m tired and need a nap. If you have anything to add, please share in the comment section below! And once again, thank you to everyone for your continued support - it means the world to me and my entire family. This community has been more of a self-care essential than any of the items I listed above. Love you, mean it! 

Thoughts welcome!

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

Lauren Thomas (September 07, 2022 at 12:45PM)

Clea, what are you doing for lashes? All the ones I found only work with your lashes and I don’t have any! I was diagnosed with leukemia around the same time as your diagnosis. I have one more after this treatment. Hooray!

Sarah (September 07, 2022 at 12:45PM)

The neuropathy is no joke! So glad your Dr’s informed you that could happen, my dad developed it after his treatments and never was told it could happen 😣 we found a supplement that really helped him, called Nerve Renew, is a preventative measure too!! Thank you for sharing your journey and helping others who are experiencing cancer. It sucks, but having community makes it suck a little less ❤️

Tina Hilgefort (September 07, 2022 at 12:45PM)

The skincare product line called CV skinlabs. Their various products are perfect for sensitive skin (from those going through treatments to babies). They saved me and have become a gift for friends who have recently, and unfortunately, been diagnosed. My favorite is the spray bottle.

Marty Wolf (September 07, 2022 at 12:45PM)

You’re incredible and spot on with things to have while going through treatment.

T Barrett (September 07, 2022 at 12:45PM)

Hypertonic fluids for hydration: drip drop, liquid IV..there are others…but is way more efficient with hydration