One of the greatest challenges you may face during your cancer journey is staying organized. With multiple appointments and changes in care, keeping up can feel almost impossible. Not to mention the added brain fog that often comes with treatment.
It doesn't matter what stage of care you're in, there's always something new to remember. That stack of papers on your counter? Those lab results, doctor's notes, and medical bills? They put a damper on your mood every time you glance in their direction.
Where do you even start? Thankfully, it doesn't have to be complicated. Here are some simple ways to sort through the chaos like a pro—even during a major health crisis.
1. Get a dedicated calendar or day planner.
The world of calendars and planners is abundant, and finding one that meets your needs can be overwhelming. You might need to try out a few options before you find the perfect fit. Once you do, it will make all the difference!
Whether you opt for a digital option, like Google calendar, or a physical one like a Moleskin bullet journal —make sure it's easy to use and allows you to keep track of your appointments and important events. If you're a note-taker, finding a planner that has an area for added notes or doodles can be incredibly helpful.
2. Make a medical binder for appointments.
A medical binder is a great way to save important dates and paperwork. Keeping a list of current medication, allergies, previous procedures, and insurance information in one place can streamline appointments—especially when you're at a new facility or with a new doctor who doesn't have your complete medical history.
Creating a comprehensive medical binder that's ready at a moment's notice can take time. But once done, it's a stress-free way to grab the information you need in a hurry. Next time you make an unexpected trip to the hospital or clinic, all your pertinent medical information will be waiting in one convenient location.
3. Create a central location for your medications.
Organizing medications during cancer treatment can feel like a full-time job—but it’s especially important. Between your daily and as-needed meds, this stash can take up a lot of space.
Some keep all their medications in one location, like a medicine cabinet or basket. If you go that route, it may be easier to separate your daily meds from your PRN ones. Label the baskets so you know where things are.
You may prefer to separate everything into pill boxes, which is a helpful trick if you have a set medication schedule. Consider sitting down once a week to prepare the following week's medication. Make sure to leave extra space for any changes in your scripts along the way. Some pharmacies actually create pill packs—so consider reaching out if this sounds helpful. You can also use daily/hourly labels to remember if you've taken a medication already or not!
4. Use labeled storage containers for medical supplies.
One of my favorite ways to keep medical supplies organized is by using labeled storage containers. It makes it easier to find what I'm looking for and keeps supplies from getting lost or mixed up.
Personally, I like clear containers with sturdy lids. I can see from the outside what each container has, and it makes it easy to stack or store them. Labeling containers is simple to do yourself—and if you're feeling creative, consider decorating the lids for an added touch of fun!
5. Keep unpaid bills together.
From medical bills to credit card statements, you might have a lot of paper sitting on your counter. The pile always seems to add up quickly—but it makes for a stressful situation. Filing these documents in a safe, accessible spot is a great way to stay ahead of the game. Try grouping them by month and year, placing all the bills from January 2022 together, etc.
Make a habit of sitting down weekly or bi-weekly to sort through and pay bills. If you have a hard time recalling what you owe—it might be helpful to keep track with a spreadsheet. Not only can it help you remember, but it's also a great tool for saving medical expenses and insurance reimbursements in one place.
6. Ask friends or family members to help you manage your care.
Sometimes, it's easier to ask for help than try to do everything yourself. Finding a friend or family member willing to help you stay organized can be a stress-buster. From assisting with prescriptions to taking medical notes, even assistance with simple tasks can be a massive relief.
Similarly, it might be beneficial to have someone make sure you're taking all of your medications at the right times—and staying hydrated! When you're busy fighting cancer, it can be easy to forget these important details. A quick text reminder can be a lifesaver.
7. Keep a positive attitude and stay motivated throughout your treatment!
Cancer treatment can be harsh, but staying motivated can help you power through. Some ways to stay positive? Try making a list of things that are going well in your life right now, remind yourself of why you're receiving treatment, or write down three things for which you're grateful daily.
Some days are just plain tough and it can be hard to focus on the positive. If this describes you, seek out support from your treatment team and family or friends. The OneVillage community is full of support and friendship, too!