This is what comforted me during cancer…


This is what comforted me during cancer treatment

July 7, 2017 | by Ashlinn Sarah Jane

Today I'd like to talk about some of the things that were a comfort to me during my cancer treatments.

I will go through some of the categories that are particularly difficult for cancer patients and talk about what within them helped get me through.


1. Food

Hospital food can be less appetizing, especially going through chemo, than some of the comfort meals we become accustomed to in every day life.

I had a booklet 50 pages long (or what felt like it) about what I could and couldn't eat: No vegetables or fruit that are hard to wash, barely any raw food for that matter, all my sweets had to be individually wrapped and so on and so forth.

The best thing for me was frozen drinks, freezies, and Bolthouse Farms drinks that pack bounds of protein in each bottle.

Mucositis (warts in the mouth from chemo) is brutal, and my braces would tear them apart. Overnight the wounds would heal over the wire bars and in the morning I'd have to pry them off and expose the damage once again.

Luckily I was set up with a nutritionist who would help me find custom off-menu meals that were somewhat stirring my appetite.

I was eating so little (I lost 50 pounds in 10 days) that I was threatened with a feeding tube. This was motivation to eat enough.

If you are going in for treatments ask to speak with the resident nutritionist. That's my best advice.


2. Connection

My angel of an aunt bought me an iPad to keep in contact with my friends and family and entertain myself with movies and books.

It's important to keep in touch, even if you still want your privacy, but just to touch base with those you love and get a taste of life out of the hospital and keep a foot in the outside world.

I was in isolation for a non-consecutive 9.5 months, although my longest time out was two weeks and that was a one-time deal.

I spent a great amount of time alone and those visits, those emails were something to look forward to.

It is so easy to stay in touch these days, even if you just use the hospital phone to make a call and hear a familiar voice.

It was also helpful for me to have visitors when doctors came in to deliver news. It is always good to have a second set of ears, someone to ask questions you may not have thought of, especially when you are not in your right physical or mental state.


3. Clothes

Pajama pants and slippers.

That's pretty much it, the hospital gowns take care of the rest, although if you can get a prayer shawl to go over your shoulders to keep you warm in your hospital bed, they navigates the tubes and wires magnificently.

Ask my nana for the pattern. ;)


4. Creature comforts

I had no physical contact for almost a year. I had to stay away from all pets and couldn't even get a hug (save for a really bad day when my sister, in her gloves, mask, and gown crawled into my bed and held me while I sobbed).

The answer?

A stuffed animal!

Mine was Paws, my beloved plush bear.

He gave me cuddles, caught my tears, and was a great comfort during my treatments and for years after.

I became so accustomed to having him in bed with me that I continued to cuddle him months and months every night after I returned home from my stem cell transplant.


5. Inspiration

Another one of my aunts has a a crafting machine that cuts paper and fabrics called a Cricut (shout out to all the crafters!) and she laboriously created a wall for me full of colourful and patterned words that graced my wall at the hospital. She bought window markers and made seasonal designs to make me feel as if I wasn't missing a moment of the celebrations.

My nana lined my hospital room with angels from the gift shop "to watch over me," she said. 

Wherever you are in your cancer journey, whether just diagnosed, mid-treatment, or maybe a supporter for another person... I hope these ideas give you away to help stay hopeful and optimistic, and encourage you to fight the good fight.

All love and support,



Advice nutrition side effects leukemia

Ashlinn Sarah Jane

Ashlinn Sarah Jane

I survived leukemia at 21 through an anonymous donation of stem cells. After losing my mum to breast cancer at 17, my sister, a survivor of non-hodgkins lymphoma was there to help me through. Through my posts I hope to showcase an honest portrayal of battling cancer, while sharing my personal story and the issues that have been important to me.