Medical Products

Essentials for On-The-Go

When you have a child with cancer, life is lived hour by hour. Anything can happen at any given moment, so you want to make sure you are as prepared as possible to handle the situation at hand and ensure the best outcome.

One of the things that I highly recommend is to stay organized at all times, beginning with having a bag (a backpack would be ideal to avoid the strain of shoulder or handbags) to carry essential items on-the-go.

  1. Medications: make sure you carry all medications with you at all times (including scheduled routine medications and PRN-those to be taken as needed). You never know if you will find yourself in a situation where you will require those medications or be far from home. Also, set a routine of checking when medications are starting to run low and need a refill. Make sure to always have at least 3-5 days worth of medications at all times. *If you are looking for a pain relief alternative, CBD has worked great for us! Life Element’s CBD Pain & Ache Relief Stick has been great to take on-the-go!
  2. Syringe: always a great idea to carry a syringe for oral liquid medication and one with a needle if your child has any medications that need to be delivered by injection. (recommend carrying two of each item needed in case one fails to work).
  3. Pill cutter and/or pill crusher: never resort to cutting medication with a knife or scissors. It can cause you to split them unevenly, resulting in two pieces with very different dosages, which can be dangerous. Also, it is okay to store the other half of the pill in its medication container but avoid wanting to split all of the tablets at once for convenience. That will help keep the drugs from deteriorating due to exposure to air. (There are some medications that should never be split or crushed, please consult with the pharmacist if you are not sure.)
  4. Emesis bag: You will want to make sure to have at least two of these on hand with you at all times! In addition to carrying some in your essentials bag, make sure to keep on in the car within reach of your child (backseat pocket) and at home in areas where your child frequents (especially next to their bed at night). As you are probably already aware, vomit will happen and at any given time! These will be your best friend to avoid additional cleaning and laundry. It is also the best way to discard the bodily fluids, since you can tie it in a secure knot and dispose. (Tip: rinse your child’s mouth after vomiting.)
  5. Thermometer: a fever can come on at any given time, so you will want to make sure to be able to check their temperature especially while on the road. Every hospital has a different protocol on how to handle fevers for pediatric oncology patients but the most common standard is fever of 101°F one time or 100.4°F taken on two occasions at least one hour apart, you will want to arrive at the Emergency Department within an hour (or Infusion Center during the day if that is your hospital’s guidelines) to have blood cultures drawn and started on antibiotics if needed. Recommend always having an extra set of batteries stored with the thermometer and additional disposable probe covers. (Tip: Do not give acetaminophen/Tylenol® for your child’s fever unless your oncologist/or the oncologist on-call directs you to.)
  6. Pulse-oximeter: this has been a vital tool for me personally as a nurse to be able to monitor my son’s heart rate and oxygen levels. Some medications and secondary conditions related to cancer treatment can cause changes in heart rate, which you will want to monitor outside of the hospital setting. For myself, the pulse-ox has come in handy often when monitoring if my son has been anemic or not feeling well and perhaps about to spike a fever to see if his heart rate is increasing. You will want to check with your child’s pediatrician what are considered to be normal parameters for your child.
  7. Ice pack/ Heat pack: disposable ones are great for on the go. Ice packs come in handy as a cooling measure when your child has a fever, to help reduce an inflammation or ease pain (use with caution to never place directly over the skin or leave on for longer than 15 minutes). Heat packs are useful for easing pain as well, just take extra precaution with use on area that has received radiation treatment or an area that is red, raw, tender, or swollen.
  8. Face masks: you will want to take extra infection control precautions during chemotherapy and/or stem cell treatment, especially during the times that your child is neutropenic. An abnormal ANC (absolute neutrophil count) is fewer than 1,500 (cells per mm3). The risk of getting a serious infection gets higher as the ANC gets lower, especially as it gets lower than 500. My favorite reusable face mask with a filter is the Vogmask. My favorite washable and reusable face mask is the Germ Freak mask made by Dena Tyson which you can find on Etsy.
  9. Hand sanitizer spray/ gel: you will want to make sure to have some on hand for when there is not a sink available; washing hands with soap and water will always be the better option. Avoid any with fragrance (Unless verified by the Environmental Working Group as safe), that contain triclosan or are labeled as “antimicrobial.”
  10. Hand sanitizing wipes: personally I like hand wipes better than sprays or gels because I feel it does a better job, is less messy and it is also useful for wiping down surfaces when there are not disinfecting wipes available.
  11. Body/baby wipes: our children’s skin becomes so sensitive after radiation and/or chemotherapy, you want to prevent irritating their skin more using just traditional toilet paper. This is also a more hygienic option.
  12. Facial tissues: these come in handy for several reasons and will be utilized often. Avoid using the body/baby wipes on face and mucus membranes (eyes, nose, mouth) as you do not want to run the risk of cross contaminating feces and causing an infection.
  13. Water bottle: staying hydrated will be of upmost importance throughout treatment. Recommend using a reusable, stainless steel and insulated bottle to keep water cold.
  14. Snacks: you never know how long you will be out on the road, at an appointment or being admitted to the hospital. Always best to keep snacks on hand that your child will like. I personally like these reusable snack bags.
  15. Wound care: because accidents can happen at any time and you want to be prepared, it is a good idea to have a small first aid kit or wound care kit put together. Some basic necessities are bandages (I personally love these non-toxic, natural PATCH strips) sterile gauze and a pair of gloves (which you will want to keep clean in a bag, gloves will also come in handy if you have to give an injection). If possible wash the wound right away with soap and water, pat dry with sterile gauze and cover with bandage.
  16. Mouth care: oral hygiene is very important in preventing infections. Carry a soft toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash (will come in handy after vomiting episodes). Lip balm is essential to keep lips moisturized.
  17. Lotion: with repeated hand washing your skin and your child’s is bound to start to get dry (theirs most especially due to their skin becoming sensitive and fragile during treatment). You will want to make sure to keep hands and skin in general moisturized to keep it from cracking which can allow for opportunistic infections. Sunscreen is also important!
  18. Port-a-cath necessities: dressing for EMLA cream (Tegaderm seems to be the most popular occlusive dressing used for this, which is latex free but ensure your child does not have skin sensitivity to it).
  19. Central-line necessities: central line dressing change kit (this should be something that is supplied to you)
  20. Disinfection caps: to protect the port connectors on port-a-cath and central lines from bloodstream infections
  21. Feeding tube necessities: extra feeding tube kit, syringe, drainage pads (for GT/JT), supplies to check for proper placement
  22. Anti-nausea essentials: peppermint essential oil, peppermint mints or hard candy, peppermint gum, ginger water in an insulated container or ginger chews are all great non-pharmaceutical ways to dealing it nausea.
  23. Medical records: you will want to have copies of vital medical records with you at all times, including a hospital pass which will come in handy when checking in to the Emergency Department (most oncology units will give patients a “hospital passport” indicating what the child’s diagnosis is, their medical record number, any known allergies, what type of port/central line they have and size of needle used to access port, as well as the most recent medications they have taken. (If this is something that is not given to you, you will want to create a sheet with this information to have on hand, ideally laminated). When a child is seen in the ED (even in your home hospital) they sometimes do not have access to all of the inpatient records or if you happen to have to go to a different hospital, you will want to be able to give the healthcare staff the most accurate background of your child’s treatment, etc. Staying organized throughout the entire treatment will be one of the most important tasks you will want to do! We are all human, so there is potential for error at any time.
  24. Clothes: you will want to have an extra set of clothes and a bag to put any soiled clothes, I like this waterproof reusable bag. A small hand towel to clean up body or messes will come in handy.
  25. Activities: because there might be a lot of downtime while waiting in between appointments or at the hospital, it is always good to have activities on hand (i.e. card games, reading books, coloring books/crayons, puzzles). Or if your child is school aged it would be wise to carry their homework with you.
  26. Charger: charger for cell phone and/or electronics, or extra battery pack in case there are no outlets available.
  27. Cash: always a good idea to have some cash and loose change on you for parking, vending machines and food (if admitted to the hospital, sometimes they have parent meal trays for a discounted price but accept cash only).

I have created a list of recommendations on Amazon for some of these essential items for you here.

You can download a copy of this page below
Medical Products

Patch Strips

Shortly after our son Anthony was diagnosed with cancer, I tried searching for natural products to use on him to reduce the amount of toxins he would be exposed to. In doing so I came across Patch Strips

Anthony’s skin became so sensitive after radiation and one of the few things he dislikes is having to peel off bandages. He goes through enough pain with his procedures, removing a bandage shouldn’t have to be one of them. A cancer patient goes through hundreds of bandages during their course of treatment. Some even develop a sensitivity to them because of the the chemicals and materials they are made from. 

Going beyond just skin sensitivity is the important health care aspect of what we are actually exposing ourselves to. Our skin is the largest organ on our body. A lot of people don’t realize that what we put on our body is just as important as what we put in it!

Because Anthony’s skin became sensitive shortly after the start of treatment with radiation and one of the few things he has disliked is having to remove bandages off his skin, I went on a hunt for what could be best for his skin. He has gone through enough pain with his procedures, removing a bandage shouldn’t have to be one of them. Because he his implanted port is accessed routinely, he gets a bandage placed at least once every week. Upon conducting my search for something that could be not only sensitive to my son’s skin but also ideally made from non-toxic material I came across Patch Strips.Not only are they natural and safe for our skin but also the environment! Needless to say it was love at first try!

One of the things that I have tried to eliminate from our lives as much as possible is plastic. Most bandages out on the market are made from plastic.The adhesive portion of a bandage is usually made from a type of plastic, either PVC (polyvinyl chloride-the most toxic plastic for both our personal health and environment), polyethylene, or polyurethane. Our skin is the largest organ of our body, so what we put on it is just as important as what we put in it. If we are so concerned as to what we eat to maintain our health, what we put on our skin should be just as important. Even more so if we are covering an open wound, we have now lost that protective layer of skin and are at an increased risk of infection or perhaps an easier source of having toxic chemicals absorbed into our bodies.

Patch Strips was created by a dad on a mission to prevent nasty skin reactions that his son would get while using traditional band-aids. Once he discovered the array of chemicals that even goes into making a band-aid he wanted to create a natural alternative. Patch Strips are made from 100% organic bamboo fiber, aloe vera, coconut oil or activated charcoal. Not only is their product safe for our skin but also the environment! Their product is completely compostable from the bandage to the packaging itself. 

You can order a sample pack here of their natural bamboo or activated charcoal bandage if you would like to test them out prior to comitting to purchasing an entire tube. But I promise you, you will love them just as much as we do!

Medical Products

Emergency Medical Transportation

Emergency medical transportation can refer to any method of transportation equipped with the medical equipment necessary in order to adequately provide life sustaining measures to safely move a person from one location to a facility where they can be appropriately treated for their level of acuity and medical condition.

“A medical emergency is an event that you reasonably believe threatens your or someone else’s life or limb in such a manner that immediate medical care is needed to prevent death or serious impairment of health. A medical emergency includes severe pain, bad injury, a serious illness, or a medical condition that is quickly getting much worse.” 

The highest level of emergency transportation will require air transport. An air ambulance may be a helicopter or an airplane; its mission is to ensure the best possible medical care during transport of a patient to a medical center or hospital equipped to best deal with the condition, injury or illness within the fastest time frame.

Of course the cost of any type of emergency transportation is always a factor. Our emergency helicopter transportation cost was $33k. Fortunately the insurance company covered the cost completely. Insurance policies all differ, some may not cover the cost, some many cover portions of the transportation and others will cover the entire bill. For the most part, if an air ambulance is deemed medically necessary, and there is no other way for the patient to receive the care, diagnosis or treatment, then it may be covered by a travel or health insurance plan that covers the cost of air ambulances. It is always good to look over your health care insurance plan and know what benefits you are entitled to, especially when renewing or switching to a new plan. Most people opt out of this option as they feel like it is something will never utilize in order to save money but let me tell you out of personal experience, you never know when you will be in that situation. It is always a good idea to choose a policy that offers air ambulance coverage with lower out-of-pocket expenses, reasonable deductibles and the co-insurance that works best for you.

They say most emergency situations tend to happen close to home but what do you know if you are far from home or traveling? Most people when traveling think about only the enjoyment that comes along with planning the trip. But never do we truly sit down and think about the what ifs or how to be prepared in case of an emergency. When you’re planning a trip, especially something overseas or internationally where you medical insurance plan may not be covered or differ you should always think about buying a travel medical insurance plan. In addition to the simple travel insurance that we often opt to purchase to cover our expenses in case we have an emergency and need to cancel those plans, it is quite more important to also consider obtaining emergency travel medical insurance and ensure it has the emergency medical transportation benefit (which some call medical evacuation insurance). The benefit limit can be as high as $500,000 or $1 million, depending on which plan you choose. You might wonder why these limits are so high, well unfortunately emergency medical transportation overseas can be extremely expensive. What could be saving you some money now, could be costing you a fortune later. The costs of emergency transportation depend on several factors: where you are  located, what resources are available in that area, the severity of your medical emergency (to determine if you will require basic or advance life support transportation), the type of transportation utilized and the location of the nearest medical facility that can safely treat you. That being said, emergency medical transportation is almost never cheap, so you will want to make sure you are covered!

Another thing to also include in your travel plans are making sure you know where the nearest urgent care and hospitals are located in the areas that you will be visiting. As well as what phone numbers to call in case of an emergency or what emergency transportation options there are. This is something that you will want to keep on you at all times while traveling. Personally, I would recommend to type out this information and store it in a laminated case it were to get wet. You truly do want to cover your bases and make sure you are prepared in these potential emergency situations. On the back side of that sheet you might also want to consider listing out the medications you are currently taking, what their doses are and the medical condition for which you need to take them. One of the things that I highly advise while traveling is to carry your vital documents, like your identification card and passport, with you at all times. The emergency contact information you will want laminated should be included with these documents. There are several RFID blocking travel holders that you can purchase to keep your documents safe and secure. These help protect against the threat of digital thieves who may try to scan your cards to obtain credit information. This one here is one of my favorite because it is lightweight, water resistant, you can adjust the length and have several compartments for storage. The last thing you will also want to worry about is having to deal with financial fraud. (Health tip:If you are looking for something to also hold your cell phone you will want to invest in something with more added protection life this one here to mitigate exposure of EMF radiation emitted from the cell phone.)

Lastly, if you are a caregiver and traveling with that individual I would also advise that you carry a laminated card indicating what needs to be done for the individual in case you were to be unconscious or need emergency medical treatment on yourself. Ideally that individual you are caring for should be wearing a medical alert bracelet on them at all times but it would be wise to also have some kind of documentation on yourself.

No one ever knows when a medical emergency situation may occur, but the best advice I can give you is to prepare yourself for one should the situation arise. Every second counts when trying to save a life!

Medical Products

Medical Alert Bracelets

Medical alert bracelets can truly save someones life in case of an emergency. If a person is unresponsive, this piece of jewelry may help alert someone as to what condition that individual has to better determine what they may need during that crisis. In a medical emergency, things happen fast and every second counts, so emergency first responders rely on obtaining information quickly. They are trained to look for the medical alert emblem which can assure them they have accurate information in the case that individual may be found alone and unable to respond, away from caregiver or anyone who is standing by may freeze up as can tend to occur even with parents under stressful situations.

During treatment, our son developed adrenal insufficiency secondary to steroid medication that he was taking. Because of this he was required to wear a medical alert bracelet in case of an emergency, since he became steroid dependent. If our son were to have required an emergency steroid injection during an adrenal crisis, there is only a 6 minute window for it to be given. This time is crucial and every second truly counts. Unfortunately with adrenal insufficiency, during times of stress it lowers your blood sugar and blood pressure which can be life threatening.

During times of stress, additional hydrocortisone medication needs to be taken to mimic the body’s normal response in that situation. Everyone’s dose is different.

Stress dosing is done according to the severity:
📍Mild Stress: 
Fever less than 102F
Flu-like symptoms 
Simple cold

📍Moderate Stress:
Fever >102
Vomiting or diarrhea
Major dental work
Hit to the head or hard fall

📍Emergency Stress Dose for Adrenal Insufficiency (injection required)💉:
Severe weakness
Vomiting or diarrhea > 2 times within 30 minutes
Not tolerating fluids
Loss of consciousness 
Excessive bleeding (Depending the situation would require an ED visit or if life threatening 911.)

When buying a medical alert bracelet make sure to include:
➖Full name
➖Diagnosis/Medical condition
➖Any medication person may be dependent on (i.e. insulin, steroids..) and/or life threatening allergy (When listing a medication, be sure to indicate whether you are taking this medication or are allergic to it! Example: On Steriods vs. Steroid Allergy).
➖Emergency contact number (two numbers if space allows).

Other recommendations that I suggest when purchasing a medical alert bracelet are:

  • Choose a waterproof material (you will want to make sure the bracelet is worn at all times and does not have to be removed when in water. This posses a risk to forget to put it on again after let’s say getting out of the shower or if an emergency were to occur perhaps while swimming, the individual will have want to made sure to have their bracelet on.)
  • Adjustable band (especially for those individuals who may be dealing with weight changes or swelling)
  • Comfortable- considering this is a piece of jewelry you will not want removed

The medical alert bracelet that we chose for our son was the ActiveWear Fit. I loved that it is silicone which is a non-toxic material, hypoallergenic, waterproof which gave me peace of mind that he could wear it at all times without having to take it off, it is adjustable which was perfect due to his shifts in weight loss and/or gain, has four rows for engraving which ensures the most vital information can be included and that the engraving is on the inside which allows for privacy.