Medically Reviewed by Ravneet Bajwa, MD
Chemotherapy treatment for cancer can take a toll on you emotionally and physically. To keep you comfortable and engaged for the hours you spend at the McLeod Cancer Center, come prepared. “Chemotherapy cancer patients should prepare a chemobag packed with a variety of items to help them,” says McLeod Oncologist Ravneet Bajwa, MD. “This can range from blankets and books to crossword puzzles and chapstick.”
Here’s a longer list with an explanation of how each item may improve your time in chemotherapy treatment:
- Dress in loose fitting pants. Sweat and yoga pants are acceptable.
- Wear short-sleeved tops to make it easier for staff to access your port.
- A hat or knit cap along with warm socks and/or slippers will help keep you warm from head to toe. A scarf can top off your chemo attire.
- A soft blanket and neck pillow will help you keep warm and even nap.
- Lip balm or Chapstick reduces the “dry mouth” feeling often experienced during chemotherapy.
- Rid your mouth of the metallic taste often reported by chemo patients by taking a toothbrush and paste.
- Take an activity to keep your hands busy, such as knitting or crocheting.
- Also take an activity to keep your mind engaged, such as puzzles, word games or Sudoku.
- An electronic tablet or phone gives you the chance to play games or watch movies. (Don’t forget your headphones.)
DRY MOUTH & NAUSEA
- Mints or hard candy, especially lemon drops, keep your mouth moist. Products with the sweetener Xylitol are very helpful at fighting dry mouth. Nausea can also be reduced with ginger sweets.
- Flat carbonated drinks also help cut nausea, as well as plain saltine crackers.
- Water or juice help with both nausea and the headaches that patients often report during treatment.
- Some patients find the smell of chemotherapy dismaying, even triggering nausea. Use some aromatherapy oils on a handkerchief to displace the bad aroma.
If you’re being treated at a McLeod facility, don’t worry if you forgot something. During chemotherapy treatments, McLeod Volunteers visit with patients and family members and offer them snacks, reading materials, puzzle books, blankets made by community groups and other items they may need from the HOPE Cart to make their treatment sessions more comfortable.
Facing a cancer diagnosis raises many questions in a patient’s mind. We hope this article helped answer a few.
If you have other questions, ask a cancer specialist.
Sources include: McLeod Health, American Cancer Society, Good Housekeeping, Choose Hope, National Cancer Institute