Top Cancer Care Package Ideas
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
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
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.
- Sleeved Blanket
- Ear Plugs
- Eye Mask
- Cozy slippers
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
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.
How it soothes
Lips are very sensitive. Hospitals are dry and chemo feels like it sucks the water right out of the body.
Un-scented products are very important. Chemo causes heightened sensitivities to scents which can cause mild to severe nausea.
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.
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.
Many chemo patients experience nail changes and damage.
Consider flexible straws just in case too nausea to sit-up and drink. Always bring lots of water to the chemo treatment appointments.
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
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.
- Schedule book
- Pill organizer
- Prescriptions and receipts folder
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.
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
- DIY salads in a jar
- 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
Berries in general
Pumpkin Seeds and other Seeds
Red, Yellow, Orange Peppers
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 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.
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© 2019 Alicia