Just the thought of chemotherapy can be enough to make one feel sick. Toxic drugs powerful enough to kill or damage cancer cells also take their toll on healthy cells. While everyone tends to respond differently, most agree the treatments come with unpleasant side effects.
Get some “chemowear.” Treat yourself to something that is comfortable and makes you feel good about yourself. You want to be able to just reach in your closet and grab something soft and loose-fitting. No thinking required.
Pack a ready-to-go travel bag and keep it near the door. Be sure to include books and magazines; a laptop or e-reader; some ginger chews and ginger pills (for nausea); lip balm and lotion (the air in treatment centers can get very dry); cozy socks; a bottle of water; and some healthy snacks. And don’t forget a fleece blanket! It can get cold in those chemo rooms. Change up the items as needed.
Prepare to stay awhile. Chemo sessions can take several hours. Plan out something to do. Set up a playlist for your iPhone, get a new book series, or grab a pillow for a nap.
Make sure you have good food to come home to. Gingersnaps, ginger ale, crackers, bananas, peanut butter, popsicles and angel food cake are easy to digest. Whipping up a smoothie can be a good idea also.
Frank Meehan spent two decades spearheading the United Food & Commercial Workers’ (UFCW) effort to raise money to defeat blood cancers. As president of the Long Island, NY Local, he was one of the first leaders to act upon the union’s national relationship with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).
Then last spring, in a twist of fate, he ended up losing his life to one of the aggressive leukemias he’d been hoping to see cured.
“It’s so ironic. He worked so hard for this cause,” said his wife Pam. “He kicked off UFCW’s involvement for years. For him to pass from acute myeloid leukemia (AML) just blew us all away.”
Meehan, who was 75, looked and felt fine when he went for his annual physical in December. He had a low level of vitamin B12 that he couldn’t seem to kick but that was it. When a doctor did a bone marrow biopsy in March just to be safe, he was diagnosed with AML. The initial treatment knocked out his white blood cells and when he developed a complication, it couldn’t be treated and he got pneumonia. He died on Easter Sunday, only three weeks after being diagnosed.
At first his family was angry. He did so much to fight leukemia. Why would this happen to him?
“But then you ask why it would happen to a small child,” said Pam Meehan. “There’s no answer. It’s just a devastating loss.”
When he first started his journey in 2010, he didn’t have any connection with leukemia or lymphoma. He signed up for his first Team In Trainingevent when a good friend and fellow dive instructor, Steve, was diagnosed with throat cancer and he decided to ride in his honor. In the early 1990s, they had developed a strong bond while stationed at Navy Dive School in Pearl Harbor working on ships and submarines. Along with a mutual friend Ron, they had many fond memories of their years together and Sena could go on for hours with all the sea stories.
Sena had no idea that Ron had been diagnosed with leukemia in 2009, and four days after signing up for that first event, he heard that Ron had passed away. Determined to use his passing to make a difference, he took to social media and raised $2,800 in four days.
Motivated to beat the disease that took his friend, Sena has been riding, running and swimming in his memory ever since. He’s completed America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride six times (also a mentor and captain), done the Vegas Bike team twice (also a coach), and finished the Pacific Grove and Wildflower triathlons. He wears a picture of Ron on his back for every event.