Here are some low-tech devices every lung cancer patient needs. The big pill box is for each day’s morning and evening pills. Right now, in the mornings I take crizotinib (Xalkori), Chinese herbs, a reflux medication, and a multivitamin, plus some Vitamin D from a spray pump; in the evenings, crizotinib and Chinese herbs. This is the fewest medications I’ve been on in a year.
All days are not the same in cancer treatment: you may have extra steroids to take for a few days leading up to chemo. If you are in a clinical trial, you may have to remember NOT to take your trial medication on clinic day because they need to run blood tests before and after you take it. So I like to count out everything by the day.
If you have young children or grandchildren, keep this box all the way out of reach at all times, preferably in a lockbox — these compartments are not child-resistant the way pill bottles often are.
The small box is for medications you carry with you. Actually, I have two. In one, I always keep one morning’s medications, for when I am already out for the day and realize I forgot to take them, or when I am leaving home early in the morning (I try to take the morning medications between 8 and 9 every day). In the other, I keep a few tablets each of my as-needed medications. That way, if I’m out and about and suddenly develop nausea or a migraine, I’m prepared. If you have small children or grandchildren, you may not want to do this because it’s hard to always keep a purse or backpack out of reach.
In addition, I use a smartphone app to keep track of all medications. I used MedTracker for a long time; now I like Easy Pill because the interface is simpler (and less ugly). It sends me an alert when it’s time to take a medication, and I can check off both scheduled and as-needed medications when I take them. I have to fill out a four-week pill diary for the clinical trial, but it’s often easier to keep the record in my phone and transfer it to the pill diary after the fact.
The phone apps also help with one other important thing: every doctor you see will need to know every medication, herb, vitamin, and nutritional supplement you are taking, and will need the list updated every time. At first I kept a running list in Google Docs; when there were more medications, it was easier just to print it out and bring it to medical appointments than to fill out the forms at the doctor’s office. Lately I find it easier to refer to my phone — and by now I basically know my medication list by heart anyhow.