Millions of people across the world receive chemotherapy, and it’s only natural to wonder what to expect. We’ve received several emails at Live Better With HQ asking us for tips on what to bring to chemo and what to do whilst there.
In response, we asked members of the Live Better With community to share with us what they find helps to get them through treatment sessions. We also spoke to a range of experts, healthcare professionals, and charities. The result is a straightforward “Chemo Checklist“, which is quick and easy for you to refer to before each session.
Getting some of these things together might ease your anxiety about going to your first chemotherapy treatment and make your more comfortable.– Margaret
The free “Chemo Checklist” includes tips on how to make your chemo sessions just that little bit more comfortable by bringing a little bit of home to the hospital and to help the time spent at treatment sessions go quicker, such as:
- bringing your personal electronic devices with pre-loaded films, books or music playlists to help pass the time and relax your mind
- wearing loose and comfy clothing (ideally layers) as, much like the weather, the temperature inside the hospital can also be difficult to predict!
- bringing slippers or hospital boots to change into whilst you’re there – don’t worry, you won’t be the only in slippers, as it’s a common tip that’s been shared amongst our community
- bringing snacks – it’s important to keep your strength and energy levels up whilst undergoing chemotherapy, so you can use this time as the perfect excuse to snack on your favourite treats!
All this advice, along with many other tips, can be easily accessed in our downloadable chemo checklist.
Great idea! When I was having my chemo I also found taking ear plugs a must, had many a lovely long and peaceful snooze. Another essential for me was my tablet so I could read, browse social media or send emails in between my sleeps and chats with other patients and medical staff!– Nic
What to bring to chemotherapy sessions
To help you rest:
Blanket and Pillow
- Many of you said you get cold during chemo so it helps to keep warm with a pillow and blanket
Sleeping Mask and Earplugs
- If you want to be able to nap bring a sleeping mask with you to block out the light
- If you want complete peace and quiet don’t forget to pack your earplugs
“Spray your blanket with your favourite perfume or smell, like lavender, to help make it feel like home.” Karen 37
What to wear:
Comfortable Clothes and Layers
- Dress in several layers, as you can’t predict the temperature of the room or how hot or cold you’ll fell during treatment
- Don’t forget to ensure your clothes allow easy access to the port for your chemo – ask your nurse or doctor in advance where your port will be
- Bring your own slippers or hospital boots from home they’ll be more comfortable than wearing shoes
- Bring a warm hat in case you head gets cold. It can make a big difference.
To eat and drink:
Snacks and Drinks
- You might like to bring your own drinks like cartons of juice, a bottle of water or a flask of tea. Your hospital might provide these for you
- You might suffer from a dry mouth during chemo, so sucking on hard sweets, such as lemon drops or mints, can help you with this
- Bring anything that you personally enjoy snacking on. Lots of you suggested making snack boxes with small amounts of different foods, so you can have whatever you fancy. Snack foods with lots of energy include nuts, fruits and chocolate.
“I bring fruit ice lollies and a small cool bag to keep refreshed.” Toby, 48
To help pass the time:
- Make a playlist on your phone or music player with songs to help you relax if you plan on dozing or some upbeat songs to lift your spirits
“I asked my friends and family to make me playlists so I could enjoy new music each time. I have discovered some new bands.” Phil, 51
Crossword Puzzles, Sudoku, or other Mind Games
- Mind games and puzzles can help distract you and also keep you alert
Laptop or Tablet or E-Reader
- Bring your laptop, tablet or E-reader, preloaded with your favourite films, books, audio books and games – endless possibilities with these devices. Rest your iPad or Kindle on our ever-popular iBeani tablet cushion.
“Reading during chemo made me sleepy, so I shut my eyes and listen to an audiobook on my tablet.” Denis, 71
- Adult colouring books are a really relaxing activity that can help to reduce your stress levels and take your mind off things
Bring a Friend
- If you’re a person that would like the company, bring a friend to chemo. Maybe you have friend that you enjoy spending a lot of time with or want to invite different friends each time to mix it up
Your chemotherapy stories
Judy told us how her family help with her anxiety before treatment. Judy’s 7-year old granddaughter Heather has a toy rabbit comforter called Squidgy and gave Judy her very own version called Squish to keep her company at chemo. Before each session, Heather also gives her grandma an envelope with two key rings with funny photos of her and her sister Freya and a message on the back. The messages have included: “Hey cancer, you’ve picked the wrong Grandma”, “Go away cancer – GO GO GO!”, and “Fighting cancer and still brilliant”. Judy said, “I find I’m actually looking forward to the others now just to see what’s in the envelopes – and so are the nurses!”
What’s in your chemo bag?
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