Top Cancer Care Package Ideas

Updated on April 8, 2019
vivakits profile image

Alicia is a dental hygienist of 12 years and counting. She and her husband launched Viva Kits, creating care packages for cancer patients.

Where to start?

Stress. Nausea. A need to nap. A sudden feeling of being chilled to the bone. Let's be honest, chemo is challenging and harsh.

We researched for you. Here's a comprehensive list compiled from many chemo patient wish-lists, advice from cancer survivors, family experiences, medical professionals...

Support Your Loved One With a Comforting Care Package

Care packages filled with everyday essentials and sentimental items are a great way to show support and lift your loved one's spirit.
Care packages filled with everyday essentials and sentimental items are a great way to show support and lift your loved one's spirit.

A warm blanket - There’s something about cuddling up with a nice blanket that brings instant comfort.

Socks and/or close-toed shoes - The hospital or clinic will be chilly. The softer and fuzzier, the better.

— Stephanie Madsen 4x Cancer Survivor

Comfort

Chemo clinics can be noisy, bright and cold during the day and at night. Create a cocoon of comfort and warmth with these simple items.

  • Tuque
  • Gloves
  • Scarf
  • Sleeved Blanket
  • Ear Plugs
  • Eye Mask
  • Cozy slippers

Entertainment

Chemo appointments can be long. Consider funnier reading material to keep the mood bright.

  • Reading glasses
  • Puzzle Books
  • Reading Material
  • Your tablet, smart device
  • A digital reader
  • Drawing/painting kit
  • Music playlists
  • Origami

Stay Hydrated

Many items are needed to stay hydrated during chemo. Chemo side-effects can lead to dehydration. Some reasons for this are unavoidable but forgetting to drink is avoidable.

Product
How it soothes
Lip Balm
Lips are very sensitive. Hospitals are dry and chemo feels like it sucks the water right out of the body.
Lotion
Un-scented products are very important. Chemo causes heightened sensitivities to scents which can cause mild to severe nausea.
Xylitol Mints
Creates saliva which soothes dry mouth and oral tissues, freshens breath and prevents cavities. (Very important that xylitol is the only sugar added. Brand names: PUR, X-Pur, Xyla, Spry). Diabetic Friendly.
MI Paste
Can only be bought from Dental Offices. Helps fight enamel erosion/cavities, soothes mouth sores, increases saliva.
Biotene: Rinse, Toothpaste, Spray, Gel
Formula made for dry mouth. Can be found at most pharmacies.
Cuticle Oil
Many chemo patients experience nail changes and damage.
Water...Water...Water
Consider flexible straws just in case too nausea to sit-up and drink. Always bring lots of water to the chemo treatment appointments.

Digital

It's very difficult for us to live without our smart phones these days. Make sure that while your phone is charging you are still able to use it with an extension cord. It would be sad to be without your phone for hours when there are music, movies or books to distract... friends to keep in touch with and games...etc.

Music filters out the sounds in the clinic, a great pre-downloaded playlist or two really helps.

  • Extension Cord
  • Charge Cord
  • USB Wall Plug
  • Earphones

Organization

So much new information and tests are being talked about. How to remember it all and keep it organized: Don't rely on your memory or your smart phone. Old school paper and pen are sometimes more reliable.

  • Paper
  • Schedule book
  • Pen
  • Pill organizer
  • Prescriptions and receipts folder

Nausea

Unfortunately a side-effect of most Chemo treatments.

  • Hot/cold drinking bottles: just keep drinking.
  • Sea-bands: many swear by them and they are clinically proven to help relieve nausea and vomiting.
  • Lemon drop candy
  • Ginger anything: tea, soup, ginger chews
  • Peppermint anything: cools internally, soothes and slows the digestive system.
  • Sickness bags
  • Tea bag portfolio: Rooibos, peppermint, green, chamomile, ginger, licorice, have been said to help some - try them all and see what works for you.
  • Check with your doctor for food or tea contraindications.

Nutrition

Your body needs to prepare before and heal after chemo. That requires good nutrition. Not the time for candy or chips from the typical hospital vending machines.

If you do want a treat: Many patients say that chocolate tastes awful during chemo (sorry). Try ginger chews or lemon drops (though sugar should be avoided) for a better tasting treat.

Prepare snacks with some of your favorites from home and you will be happy you did.

  • Protein Bars: Your body needs the extra protein right now.
  • Granola Bars
  • Fruits - fresh and dry
  • Nut mix
  • Soups
  • DIY salads in a jar
  • Smoothies
  • Hot Oatmeal
  • Non-Metal Utensils: Some treatments cause a metallic taste in the mouth.

Prepare foods ahead of the chemo treatments.

- Eat small meals and snacks throughout the day (aim for 5-6 smaller meals rather than 3 large meals).

- Eat lower fat, blander foods!

- Try colder or cool foods – these give off less odor and aroma and are especially important if you feel nauseous. Hot foods can have a more pronounced odor, therefore causing an aversion to certain foods.

- Drink fluids frequently—this will prevent dehydration and remove some of the byproducts of the chemotherapy. Water is the best!

— Stanford Medicine Cancer Institute

Foods to Avoid - Foods to Try

Nutritional advice is best if tailored to your specific situation, treatment, medication etc. Please confirm with your medical professionals.

A nutritionist specializing in Chemo would be great. Keep a log of how you feel around the foods that you eat. Experiment with small amounts of anything you try. Maintain a balanced routine.

Once you find one that works for you, introduce new things a little... at... a... time and gauge the effects.

The foods/drinks to avoid are notorious and easy to identify, the ones that benefit you while being palatable during this unusual phase are more challenging.

It is best to make food prior to each chemo treatment.

Eating food when it has cooled down helps with the nausea that strong smells can cause.

Eat in small amounts constantly. Your body, even when nauseous, needs nutrition and protein to keep your energy up and able to combat the cancer.

Foods to Avoid
Foods to Experiment With
Artificial Flavors
Sweet Potatoes
Artificial Colors
Blueberries
Alcohol
Berries in general
Processed Foods
Broccoli
Deli Meats
Avocado
Microwave Foods
Pumpkin Seeds and other Seeds
Sugar
Red, Yellow, Orange Peppers
Artificial Sweeteners
Cumin
Pastries
Rosemary
Fried Foods
Cilantro
Trans Fat
Spirulina
When preparing foods to bring to the hospital, there are certain ones to avoid (for health reasons) and others that you may not have thought of.

Other Items for Your Chemo Appointment Bag

  • Stress ball
  • A box of surgical masks to reduce risk of viral infection from others
  • Cold caps have been said to reduce hair loss for some - The American Cancer Society has more info.
  • A small towel in case of hot flashes

Nurses

Nurses work very hard. My husbands mom was a nurse for over 40 years, she started practicing in pediatrics, worked in contagious diseases while carrying him and spent most of her career as a geriatrics head nurse.

Nurses are the ones who manage and make things run smoothly in their departments and therefore influence greatly your hospital life while visiting. Keep them happy and make a new friend. Any small treat/gesture will do. It's the thought that counts.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Alicia

    What items would you add to this list?

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, youmemindbody.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://youmemindbody.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)