From absolute necessities to little luxuries, you won’t want to head to an appointment without these items.
Chemotherapy is one of the biggest unknowns during the cancer treatment process. It’s so foreign and unrelatable for many people, and not knowing what to expect, what to bring, or how you’ll feel can be scary.
Having your chemo bag packed and ready before your first day is one way to ease your anxiety.
During my own breast cancer experience, I had some go-to items that made each chemotherapy session a little more enjoyable.
Chemotherapy treatment days can be long and emotional. Having a journal to document your feelings, doctor’s notes, and your experience can be really helpful to look back on later.
If you enjoy watching movies, reading, or other online distractions, think about bringing your laptop. My chemo sessions became my special uninterrupted time to write blog posts.
Since many hospitals administer chemotherapy in open rooms with many patients, headphones can give you a feeling of peace and quiet during your session.
If you have friends who want to do something special for you, think about having them make a special playlist for each chemotherapy session. I had a cousin make me a CD like this and it really lifted my spirits.
Chemotherapy can be very dehydrating, so drinking lots of water can really help.
Drinking lots of liquid before, during, and after chemotherapy sessions can also alleviate feelings of nausea and help flush the toxins out of your body more quickly.
Hydrating before blood tests also makes it easier for nurses to access your veins.
Most chemo days will be extremely long and exhausting. Mind puzzles or coloring books are a great way to pass the time and find distraction.
If you have people coming with you, think about bringing puzzles, games, or cards to pass the time.
Most oncology floors are chilly, and sometimes the medicine coursing through your veins makes you even colder.
Bringing a cozy blanket can take the edge off and make the space feel more comforting. Some days, I would wear a scarf I could easily use as a blanket for double duty and less packing.
I tried almost every anti-nausea idea out there. Unfortunately, when it comes to nausea, everyone is different and there’s no magic solution.
Each person’s chemotherapy cocktail will be different and will impact your body differently. Beyond my anti-nausea and anxiety medication, these are a few things that brought me relief:
- peppermint essential oil
- ginger tea or ginger chews
- anti-nausea acupressure wristbands (these really helped me during car rides, too)
- crackers or toast
- bone broth or chicken noodle soup
- lots of water
Don’t be afraid to try multiple things until you find something that works.
Chemo days can be long, and having healthy meals and snacks on hand will help you maintain energy throughout the day. It may also help with nausea.
Most hospitals have a cafeteria, but I felt bringing my own lunch and snacks was much healthier and ensured I had something to eat that I enjoyed. I would pack my lunchbox with leftovers, fresh fruit, crackers, and more.
As the chemotherapy drugs can cause a metal or bitter taste in your mouth, it’s also great to bring some mints or hard candy to suck on during the IV transfusion.
This one may seem odd, but lipstick can really lift your spirits. I loved wearing and bringing a bright red or pink on chemotherapy days.
When I would go in the bathroom between IVs, seeing a bright color on my face helped lighten the mood.
Chemotherapy can make your skin dry and irritated, so be sure to moisturize every day. You may also experience odd acne rashes on your chest, which is another common side effect of chemo.
Chemotherapy can make your skin extremely sensitive, so look for a fragrance-free cream or moisturizer.
Coconut oil was my go-to for all my skin concerns, along with topical steroid creams when things got bad.
Having what you need to feel comfortable is important, but finding your army of supporters is just as crucial for making chemotherapy bearable.
Find your tribe of cancer thrivers on social media or the BC Healthline app, where you can ask questions, share stories, and laugh with women who really get what you’re going through.
And please remember: You are never alone.
Anna Crollman is a style enthusiast, lifestyle blogger, and breast cancer thriver. She shares her story and a message of self-love and wellness through her blog and social media, inspiring women around the globe to thrive in the face of adversity with strength, self-confidence, and style.