Liz Bauerlein of Mahopac, New York was so scared by her Lymphoma diagnosis that she’s blocked out all thoughts that came with the news in 2006. Gathering herself, she was determined not to let the situation interrupt her life. That included - among other things - parasailing, she says, "and yeah I threw up on the boat but I did it anyway." So up in the air or on the chairlift up, she found the good and bad days followed a pattern and led her to a place where she could help others survive both the cancer and the cure.
Liz’sChemo Survival Kits come with 15 practical items that can help with radiation’s side effects. Greater than the sum of its parts, she says, “it’s really knowledge you’re buying.”
Well short of that at the onset, she went skiing after her first dose. With the chair in full swing, she realized, “this is a stupid thing to do,” but tracking the symptoms revealed that she could plan around the problem days. In turn, the kit’s survival log emerged.
Still, despite today’s happy ending, the disease came and went several times and filled more than one log. She started out, according to the prognosis, with an 85% survival rate. Optimistic, she says, “I was excited, I had the head cold of cancers.”
Before the final remission, in which the chemo hit like a Mack-truck, 50-50 was the math she faced. But between going to Rome and getting doctor approval on her escapades, she knew the information she was accumulating wasn’t groundbreaking. It’s not like others hadn’t been through this but every patient has to relearn the wheel and that seemed crazy, she says.
So she figured why not give patients a heads up on things like the “chemo smell.” Chemo secretes through all the pours, while heightening the sense of smell. I could smell it on my skin, she says, and I found it very disturbing – especially since I wanted to forget the experience.
She found a few lotions and scrubs that eased her olfactory sensibilities, but nothing in the bag is set in stone. If you like the items that worked for me, buy full sizes at CVS, but if they don’t work, you havea good idea of what to get, she says.
The data collection is definitely open to suggestion also. For instance, Lifesavers started out as the answer to the metallic taste chemo leaves. That was until customer feedback directed her to starburst. “It’s not masking the taste, it’s completely taking the taste away,” she says she found out.
Unfortunately, vomiting negates any of this and anti-nausea meds can also come up short. You’ll often throw up the medication, she says, but sucking on Ginger candies can calm your stomach long enough for the meds to take effect.
For now, after cancer derailed a Masters in Education, she substitutes in the Mahopac School District and tutors. Coming up well short of making a killing on the Chemo Kits isn’t a problem either. Originally, she says, “We looked at doing this as a nonprofit because I would have done this for free.”
Given that, if buyers nearby have an interest in learning more, she’ll come over and walk them through the kit and offer whatever she can from her experience. But in person, on the phone or online, she doesn’t let the dialogue go to waste. From feedback, we hope to become more interactive on the website with an Ask Liz Link and a fluid list of FAQs, she says.
In the end, she defers on seeking meaning behind her cancer. On the other hand, she says, I can find purpose from it, which has allowed me to take that experience and do something positive with it.
For more info : www.lizschemokits.com
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