It’s been 189 days since my breast cancer diagnosis and 153 days since I started chemo. But who is really counting? During those days, there have been some OK moments—and a whole lot of pretty rough spots. A number of things have helped me through it all (peppermint oil, the Giving Keys necklace, and gratitude journal—I’m looking at you!).

I wanted to share the things that have gotten me through this crazy #cancerlife thing, as well as tell you why exactly they helped. My hope is that it might help you, too. I include three below and you can read the rest over at my HealthCentral column Tales From The Chemo Chair here.

1. A Good Read

A friend from high school whom I hadn’t spoken to in years sent me For Once In My Life by Colleen Coleman as part of a care package. It came about three weeks after I started chemo and it was the perfect timing because all I wanted to do was escape my reality for a little bit. I remember several nights after taking a shower and realizing my hair was falling out, I dried up my tears, wrapped up my hair, and settled in with this book. It was my mental break from thinking about baldness, appointments, tears, and explanations of complicated medical things.

Also, if you’re looking for a book about breast cancer but you’re so over the medical jargon, then Chicken Soup for the Soul’s Hope & Healing for Your Breast Cancer Journey is for you. My sister sent this book to me–it’s filled with inspirational stories from women who have gone through breast cancer. I smiled after reading each personal account. And a smile is something that is definitely needed during this difficult time.

2. Gratitude

Cancer has a way of playing tricks on you. One day you’re crying at the doctor’s office and the next day you’re laughing over margaritas with your girlfriends (#truestory). It was when I started incorporating a gratitude journal as part of my morning quiet time that I found consistency in the way I approached each day. Instead of stress and worry, I trained myself so that the first thing my mind went to every morning was all the things I was grateful for in my life: my hardworking husband, my energetic and happy boys, my supportive family, hot coffee, and having my appetite back. When you focus on the good, the good gets better. And that it did my friends.

3. Lip Balm and Lemon-Honey Candies

Because some chemotherapy drugs can cause mouth sores, it’s important to keep moisture locked in those areas. My lips were extremely dry during chemo and lip balm helped immensely. I didn’t have any cracks or bleeding, which can be a common side effect. I did have another chemo side effect, however: a metallic taste in my mouth. When my sweet friend brought over a whole carton of these lemon-honey candies, it was the first time I found something that totally got rid of the unpleasant taste. I was so relieved that I packed them with me everywhere—my purse, in the car console, in my husband’s car, my kids’ backpacks. When I say everywhere, they came with me everywhere. Before I would eat, I would suck on the candy and it helped rid my mouth of the metallic taste so I could actually tolerate—and even enjoy—my food.

Make sure to read the rest of the items that helped me through this breast cancer journey at the 9 Things That Helped My Through Breast Cancer on HealthCentral website.

If you’re new here, you can read My Breast Cancer Journey: They Day I Found Out I Had Breast Cancer and The Day I Found Out I Needed Chemo

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