The contents of a bag including mask, sanitizer, pills and snacks

What's in My Bag as a Cancer Survivor

It’s already tough trying to function as a normal member of society when dealing with post-blood cancer side effects like nausea, anxiety, physical pain, etc. When you throw singing, dancing, and acting on top of that it gets even harder. Here are some things that I like to bring with me to my rehearsals and auditions as an actor post-cancer.

Snacks to combat nausea

I get nauseous almost every day, if not every day. I’ve found certain snacks that work for me that help soak up some of my stomach acid and give my body a bit of the energy it needs.

I love goldfish crackers. They taste good and are easy to chew and swallow. I also enjoy breakfast bars! They are easy to store because they are small. They come in a variety of flavors. Right now I have a box of Lucky Charms breakfast bars. Not the healthiest, but it helps in a pinch.

I also tend to eat a lot of bread because it soaks up so much of my stomach acid, and in my opinion does it the best. I can’t eat regular cheap loaves of bread from the store anymore because they are so processed, so I buy a bag of Kaiser rolls from the bakery section. They are fresher and have fewer preservatives in them. During the last show I did, my cast mates actually started coming into the dressing room asking me for bread because they knew I always carried some with me. Apparently nausea was going around hitting everyone that show. Gatorade is a must for me as well, those electrolytes help me when I’m feeling lightheaded or weak. Last but not least, water for obvious reasons.

Hand sanitizer to reduce risks

When I’m not feeling well sometimes I need to plant myself on the floor. Especially after going over dance choreo. I think it helps ground me. But the floor can be nasty! I like to use hand sanitizer after I get back up. Especially since I know I’ll be wiping the sweat off of me and moving my loose hairs out of my face.

Comfier clothes

Depending on the audition, sometimes I have to wear a nice dress with heels or something formal. When I feel sick I hate wearing anything restrictive because I can feel it and it adds to how badly I feel. So I like to pack a change of clothes. Some flip flops or flat shoes, a big hoodie or oversized shirt, and some loose pants. I can change as soon as I’m done and don’t have to drive home while feeling uncomfortable.

Pain meds

Over the years I’ve purchased a lot of over the counter pain medicine. My go to is ibuprofen liquid gels. I tend to get a lot of headaches from stress and pain in my back, and they help. I also pack nausea medicine and cough drops in case my throat gets scratchy.

Extra face masks

I like to bring one or two disposable face masks. Just in case mine breaks, or you meet someone who needs one then you have one to give! :)

Cash

Sometimes I’ll need a little something extra from the gas station. Maybe a coffee or a different kind of snack I’m craving that day. I like to try to have cash just in case the store isn’t taking card. There have been a few times I was in a rush, stopped at the gas station to buy a drink only to find out I couldn’t pay because their card readers were down. Then I had to drive to the theater hoping I would make it without feeling too sick. Not a fun time.

Emergency numbers and medicine list

It’s never gotten this serious, but if I were to ever pass out I’d want someone to know who to contact to meet me at the hospital or pick me up. It’s not a bad idea to have an emergency contact card in your bag, with cell/work numbers to call. A medication list as well would be wise.

There’s my pack! I hope this can be helpful to someone. Is there anything you’d add to yours?

Warm wishes, Katelynn

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