Dressing for cancer treatment

Tracey is a 55-year-old special educator from Canberra who is on a tough journey with cancer.

We asked Tracey to share her experience dressing during her treatment. 

What are some of the key considerations when dressing during cancer treatment?

I have had Multiple Myeloma, a type of blood cancer, for nearly four years. As part of my treatment I have had radiation which results in your skin becoming burnt and can even blister. Lucky for me I just looked like I had a bad case of sun burn during this time but it is so important to wear clothing that is not only comfortable but also made from natural fabrics as they allow your skin to breath and help the healing process.

What is more important to me in clothing is comfort, breathability, styles that you can layer as it gets cold in hospital and being stylish. You do not have to be a dag!

What garments do you recommend?
Natural fabrics like Merino wool are ideal as they help to keep your skin cool and can be worn several times before needing to be washed. Washing is something we all dislike doing but even more so when you are having treatment.

I have also had my fair share of chemotherapy which is administered through an IV. This is another time when you not only want to feel comfortable but also must consider how the nurses can access your lines. For my PICC line inserted into my arm I wear a Merino T-shirt as it enables me to keep my modesty without having to expose too much of my skin.

Sometimes I have a central line which is inserted into your upper chest. For easy access to chemo I wear a shirt as I do not have to undress, and the nurses can discreetly attach the line to chemo. Natural fabrics are so nice on the skin whilst making you feel very stylish.

During chemo, my skin can often become itchy, dry, and blotchy and wearing clothes made with synthetic fabrics makes it worse – I even wear my Merino T-shirt to bed at night for extra comfort.

Given some of my medication makes my stomach swell, I really appreciate a cut that covers my tummy too.

What do you do to brighten up a tough day?

There is nothing better than on the days you feel a bit down to be able to feel comfortable as well as look good or on the days when I am going out somewhere special I dress up t shirt or shirt with a bright necklace.

Have you had to use Face Masks during your treatment?

As I have an impaired immunity, I often must wear a face mask, even before we were hit with COVID-19. After wearing many face masks, I have finally found one that is comfortable the elastic ear straps are adjustable preventing the irritation caused by other cheaper disposable masks that cause irritation to skin around your ears. The One P face masks are made from such beautiful soft fabrics which are easy to breathe through and do not make me feel claustrophobic.