It’s normal to feel uncertain about the effects chemotherapy may have on your body. You can, however, relieve your stress — and help relieve some of the side effects — with some advance planning.
Making a chemo care kit prior to treatment will give you a sense of reassurance and some control over the process, says Wade Smith, M.D., a medical oncologist at City of Hope Newport Beach who specializes in breast cancer.
“Chemotherapy can be difficult, so the focus should be on resting and regaining strength,” Dr. Smith said. “It’s tough to recuperate if you are running to the drugstore to pick up something you need or you’re not comfortable. Preparing a chemo care kit ensures you have necessities on hand so all you need to do is focus on your health. A care package is also a thoughtful gift you can give to a loved one who is about to start chemotherapy.”
Here are some of the items Dr. Smith suggests including in a chemo care kit. Some of them can be used during infusion, while others provide comfort or ease stress post-treatment:
- Thick, warm socks, a scarf or a blanket in case you get cold during or after an infusion
- Soft knit loungewear that can be worn during treatment or at home
- Peppermint or ginger tea or hard candies to alleviate nausea
- A neck pillow to use at infusions
- A warm cap or hat to prevent you from being cold, especially if you experience hair loss
- A backpack or easy-to-carry bag to hold anything you need to bring to your infusions
- An on-the-go kit to pack in your infusion bag (i.e.: tissue packs, mints, pain medication, etc.)
- Ear plugs for naps, sleeping at night
- Easy-to-digest foods such as saltines, applesauce and protein bars, as well as high-fiber grains and produce
- Sanitizing or disinfecting wipes for easy cleaning of the surfaces in your home
- A reusable water bottle that only you use, to stay hydrated during and after chemotherapy
HEALTH AND BODY
- Pain relievers or other over-the-counter medication recommended by your doctor
- Unscented, hypoallergenic hand and body soap and lotion if your skin gets dry from treatment
- Oral care:
- A rinse to relieve dry mouth
- A soft toothbrush if your mouth is sensitive or sore after chemo
- Lip balm to prevent dry, chapped lips
- Laxatives or stool softeners in case of constipation
- Hand sanitizer
- A digital thermometer
- Sunscreen (chemotherapy can increase sun sensitivity)
- Eye drops if your eyes are dry
- Books or audiobooks
- A subscription to a music or video streaming service
- Puzzles or games
- A tablet, smartphone or other device to read, watch shows or listen to music; try this City of Hope 10-minute guided imagery meditation. Use earbuds or headphones if you’ll use your device during the infusion.
Check out these other tools you may want to include in your self-care toolkit. Discover more resources for people living with cancer, and read our checklist for working through the first days of your diagnosis.