Figuring out how to maintain your daily life and tackle cancer-related tasks, like packing for chemo, can feel overwhelming. Use the following information as a checklist to simplify your chemotherapy appointments by knowing what to take with you.
Prepping for Your First Chemotherapy Appointment
Chemotherapy can make your body temperatures swing from cold to hot and back again during the same visit. The American Cancer Society recommends dressing in layers.
Dress comfortably in sweatpants or yoga pants. Choose light materials so if you sweat, you won’t feel sticky. Wear a low neck or V-neck shirt so nurses can easily place ports to administer the chemo, and bring an extra shirt in case you sweat through the first.
Bring a light sweater in case you become cold. Having something to cover your head can also be helpful. You may feel cold enough to keep it covered, especially if your hair has begun falling out.
Bring a security blanket
Choose items that will give you physical relief as well as sentimental comfort.
A light blanket to snuggle in can help you stay warm and relaxed by offering you a sense of comfort from home.
Also, bring a pillow. Chemotherapy can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. A pillow can make you comfortable enough to fall asleep.
Photos of loved ones can remind you who else is cheering you on during your cancer battle. You can also bring an inspirational photo or uplifting quote, a religious text or other spiritual items that will offer a bit of peace.
Don’t forget to pack snacks. If you’re there for a long time, you will get hungry.
Make sure to eat a small meal before going to chemo. And pack a small cooler with various snacks. Since chemo can cause appetite changes, metallic taste, and mouth sores, pack foods that are easy to eat, like smoothies or milkshakes. Popsicles or ice cubes to snack on can help if mouth sores develop. Ask your care team for items that are difficult to pack because they may melt.
Bring an activity
Chemotherapy can often take hours to administer. Make sure to bring things to occupy the time like a book, magazine, or an e-reader. Games on a smart phone, a portable video game player, and crossword puzzles can help occupy your mind.
Pack a laptop computer or tablet so you can do work, surf the Internet, or watch videos. A journal or notebook to write down your thoughts or document your cancer journey may be helpful.
Other items for your first chemo appointment
You’ll also want to bring a toothbrush and toothpaste, lotion, alcohol-free sanitizer, bottled water, tissues, lip balm, and a small bucket or bag (in case of nausea).
Use this list as a starting point to decide what things will make you the most comfortable during chemotherapy — then pack them up!
If there is something you need, feel free to ask your nurses and care team. UPMC Hillman Cancer Center locations typically have snacks, blankets, entertainment, and more to make patients are as comfortable as possible.
For more information about what to expect at chemotherapy, reach out to UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.