9 Things to Pack in Your Chemo Bag

Be Comfortable, Entertained & Occupied

Female patient receiving treatment in hospital
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When you're on chemotherapy, you will likely get to know your nurses well. However, nurses have other patients to tend to and don't have time to entertain you during your infusions, so packing a chemo tote bag full of things to keep yourself busy and comfortable is a great idea.

What to Pack in Your Chemo Bag

Your chemo center may have comfortable recliners, tables for medicines and magazines, small TVs, and a mini-refrigerator full of drinks. Sometimes patients may bring plates full of snacks to share, and the nurses may have crackers and cookies on hand. It will likely be a comfortable setup, but you still may want to bring things to help you pass the time or make you feel even more comfortable. Here are some chemo essentials:

  1. Scream cream: Consider applying Emla cream, an anesthetic, to the area where you receive your injection at least 45 minutes before an infusion. It can prevent pain from the needle.
  2. Plastic wrap and tape: You can use plastic wrap and medical adhesive tape to prevent the numbing cream from getting on your clothes or you can also use occlusive bandages.
  3. Water or juice: You need to stay hydrated, and you may need to take a supplement such as L-Glutamine powder before the infusion to prevent chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy anyway. Flavored water and healthy juices are a good option if plain old water isn't your favorite.
  4. Snacks: Chewy, moist cookies are good, and so are little packages of peanut butter and crackers. Peppermint candies are nice for a dry mouth and ginger candies relieve nausea. A whole wheat bagel is a nice substitute for lunch.
  5. Movies or TV shows: Watching movies or TV shows while you're getting your infusion can be very distracting and give you a break from focusing on the needles, tubes, and bags of chemo drugs. Download them ahead of time from Netflix, Amazon, or Google.
  1. Novels and/or magazines: If you've been dying to delve into that new novel by your favorite author, now is a great time. Bring along those magazines you've been collecting too for some quick, easy reading.
  2. Crafts: Small knitting projects like hats and scarves are easy to pack and keep your hands busy. They also give you something to show for the time you've spent in that chair. Needlework projects are very popular among patients.
  3. Pen and paper: You can bring reading material from the office with you and take notes while you're reading. The quiet might offer a good place to be productive. Alternatively, you can write someone a snail mail letter or card, truly a treasure in this digital age.
  4. Lotion and lip balm: Chemo can dry out your skin, so bring along your favorite lotion and lip balm to keep your skin soft and moisturized.

What to Take to Longer Infusions

A longer infusion calls for more comforts, so bring whatever will make you feel more relaxed. A soft blanket and a little pillow can be helpful. On the days you think nausea might be a problem, pack a small bowl. If someone accompanies you for your infusion, bring along a game you can play, such as Scrabble, cards, or Boggle.

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