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Essential Items For Head And Neck Cancer Patients. These are things we've needed and that have helped us feel better. Updated.

sweetblood22's picture
Posts: 3228
Joined: Jan 2010

This was an idea and thread started by adventurebob a couple of years ago. These are all items we compiled as things we found we really needed to help us get through treatment. Obviously, no one needs everything, but I know I used a lot of stuff off this list. So perhaps if you are just starting treatment, or know some one who is, maybe you may want to get some of these things or give the person a gift basket filled with some of these items.

Please feel free to add additional items that you found were essential during your treatment time.

I am reviving this thread since it is a great resource as to what would be great for a new person starting treatment.   We have a few here that are new, so maybe this will be helpful.  I have also gone down the whole thread and tried to just pick out the items that are useful.  I tried to get everything, there's a lot!  

1. Lotion for skin
2. Green tea Or herbal tea
3. Biotene dental products
4. Aquaphor 
5. Baking soda / salt  and peroxide.  Recipe / instructions or rinse
6. Journal / log book
7. Thermometer 
8.  Immodium
9. Ensure or Boost
10. Bottled water and or a good water bottle 
11. Cotton hankie
12. Fleece hat
13. Hard candy
14. Blanket
15. L-Glutamine Powder
16. Home blood pressure monitor kit
17. Slippers / house shoes
18. Caloric intake book or website like my pyramid tracker to make sure you're getting in enough calories
19. Coupons for frosty's or shakes
20. Tissues
21. Ace bandage chip clip or netting for holding peg tube 
22.  Solo 16 oz cups and napkins for mucus spitting
23. Call SPOHNC or see superthread for link for the free book. We Have Walked In Your Shoes. A Guide to Oral Head And Neck Cancer. 
24. American Cancer Society. They will send you a packet of info and free stuff as well.  Will also reimburse you for mileage to hospital during treatment.  
25.  Lip balm. (I love CO BIGELOW from bath and body
26. Stoppers 4 
27. Calendula cream for neck burns.
28. Books like, Creating A Cancer Fighting Kitchen
29. Magic Mineral Broth or recipe for broth. Or give them a good home made rich stock with no salt.
30. Soft bristle tooth brush
31. Sponge/foam brushes for tooth brushing when mouth is too sore for soft bristles 
32. Paper tape
33. Water proof tape
34.  Drain sponges or 2x2 gauze bandages for peg tube
35. Baby wipes
36. Pill crusher splitter
37. Pill organizers 
38. Straws 
39. Package of note cards or thank you notes
4o. Ear plugs  
41. QTips
42. Small rubber coated baby spoon. Some people say they like them even better than plastic cutlery.
43. Toothette mouth moisturizer. (sometimes this comes in a kit with a rinse and sponges on a stick)
44. Protein powder
45. Neck Pillow
46. Electric razor.

sweetblood22's picture
Posts: 3228
Joined: Jan 2010

Topping in case anyone has any other things to add. Laralyn found a peg tube belt that was helpful. Anyone else have anything to add to this thread?

Posts: 87
Joined: Sep 2015

Hi sweetblood22,

This list was incredibly helpful, I'm checking them off as I go. 

Few things I wanted to check:

1) What did you use the ear plugs for?

2) Lip balm - Is this preventative, or recommended to start?

3) Lotion for Neck burns? Is neck burns expected during treatment?


thanks a bunch!

Barbaraek's picture
Posts: 613
Joined: Aug 2015


Yes, neck burns are common. The radiation is like getting a horrendous cumulative sunburn. Aquaphor is good, and silver sulfadiazine (Silvadene) cream is even better if you get weepy sores/burns on the neck.


Lips can become cracked and dry from the chemo (5FU especially, and also from swishing and spitting that salt/baking soda solution).


Ear plugs? I don't know...unless it's to tune out noise.



jakesaround's picture
Posts: 23
Joined: Sep 2015


My doc told me to use Alra-Therapy Lotion twice a day after radiation treatments. In other words don't put it on before radiation otherwise you will be adding fuel to the fire that will be your face and neck. This stuff is made out of an 100% Aloe Vera base with some other added vitamins and stuff. My doc gave me a sample and I went to a local mom & pop pharmacy to get a bigger bottle for later use. I think you can definitly buy it online from several places like Amazon but to find in a local store near you you would have to call around. I don't think the big chain stores carry it right now at least not in my area.

Here is a link to the product.


Has anyone else ever heard of or used this product?



Skiffin16's picture
Posts: 8286
Joined: Sep 2009

I can definitely pass on your info tomDawn (sweetblood), as she doesn't get on here much these days..

But we are Facebook friends..., and text buddies..

But the comments and suggestions made from others to your questions are pretty much spot on..

Silvadene (sulfonamide/silver), is a antibacterial used as a topical cream on burns, and works great for people with sever weeping burns. Though most of us don't get burned that severly.., some do though.

Myself, mine mostly turned really dark and peeled like a bad sunburn, but it wasn't raw... I didn't like the Aquaphor.., way too thick and greasy for me...

Anyways.., glad that you are being proactive, and that the SuperThread and Dawn's old posts are still being benificial..

Also, here's a direct link to the reference above, posted..

Alra-Therapy Lotion

Best, John

SASH's picture
Posts: 399
Joined: Apr 2006

A soft towel or baby blanket to put on pillow so not constantly washing pillow cases from the drool

Unscented tissues with no lotion to clean the mucous from the mouth if you can't spit it in the cup

Magic Mouthwash/Magic Mix Rx for when it is too painful to swallow and you need to numb yourself


LiseA's picture
Posts: 267
Joined: Jan 2016

This is so helpful. Thank you. 

Skiffin16's picture
Posts: 8286
Joined: Sep 2009

Dawn doesn't spend much time on here.., but I know her and speak to her frequently.. I'll let her know that her hard work is still of value and helpful.., she'll much appreciate it.

As a side note..., and little trivia..

Dawn did all of her original posts, including the SuperThread on a cell phone.. Now that's committed to being helpful..

IAmStrong's picture
Posts: 58
Joined: Feb 2012

Hola.  I am over 5 years out.  My doctors commented that my skin is so soft and in such good condition....they stated they Never see anyone with skin as nice as mine and I was maxed out on all treatments.  My only thing I continue to do twice or more daily, is apply coconut oil, which is actually a hardened product and inexpensive.  Whenever my skin feels tight, I apply and massage in.    There is No change in the texture of my skin after healing from the burns.  And I massaged the resection area/scar faithfully as told to to prevent build up of scar tissue when given the all clear to do so. 


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