Things to Pack in Your Chemo Bag (Part I)

Good morning, lovelies!

Today I want to talk about things that I’ve found useful to pack in my chemo bag. A lot patients are nervous for their first round of chemo because they aren’t sure what to expect. I’ve found that packing a bag prior to chemo helps to ease some of my anxiety because it helps me to feel “prepared” for treatments. Mind you, everyone is different, but these are some suggestions that may be useful to you or your loved one.

A Book
Many patients like to spend time reading during chemo. I’ve always had a strong love of books, mainly because they can transport you to another time and world altogether, and during chemo when so many emotions and physical changes are taking place, losing yourself in a good story is pretty awesome.

I generally take my iPad to read e-books because I can carry more books than if I were to bring physical copies. Sometimes you might be in the mood for a particular book or genre, while the next session you just aren’t feeling that book at all. The more options you give yourself, the better.

I’ve also found it helpful to start a new series that I only read during chemo. Then, when I start getting into it, I find that I’m not dreading chemo as much because I am looking forward to see what will happen next in the story I’m reading.

Along with books, tablets are a great distraction. There’s so much you can do on them, from catching up on emails, chatting with friends, reading books/news, or even playing games.

Blankie & Pillow
While many treatment centers will undoubtedly provide you with a blanket or pillow upon request, I found that bringing my fave blankie and pillow from home comforts me more than those less-than-soft hospital blankets. For some reason, chemo can make you chilly, so its better to have one on hand.

Eye Mask
I have never been one to use an eye mask before, but I did get one for chemo. While I can fall asleep without one, it just feels easier to sleep with one. You might not always use it, but it’s better to have just in case. Blocking out the bright hospital lights can help your body rest easier.

I purchased a Cooling Gel Sleep Mask by Earth Therapeutics at Ulta, and I absolutely love it. It has cooling gel beads to help reduce face puffiness while also ensuring that I stay cool (sometimes I get hot and sweaty at random during treatments), but the side that touches on your eyes is lined with very soft fleece. I also use it at home when I’m feeling warm, and I place it into the freezer for about 5-10 minutes.

Just like books, music is a great escape. Sometimes when I don’t feel like focusing on anything in particular, I pop in my headphones, close my eyes and listen to some jams. I even have my own playlist of faves specifically for chemo. Or, you could have your friends make playlists for you of their fave songs. I once had my friend Jacob share his calming playlist with me on Spotify during my treatment, and it was the perfect blend of calming music for me, and I didn’t even have to worry about putting the playlist together.

I’ve noticed that a lot patients begin to journal after being diagnosed, mainly because journaling is so therapeutic and is known to be an excellent coping mechanism. Chemo is the perfect time to catch up on your journaling, and if you haven’t started a journal, it could be a great time to! Journals are so personal and flexible, so you can really make it whatever fits you, whether it be a bullet journal, a diary (digital or physical — may I suggest DayOne for those of you Apple users out there), a prayer journal, etc.

I am a big gamer, so I almost always take my Nintendo Switch or my gaming laptop with me to chemo. Games are fun and mentally stimulating, and you’d be surprised how they make time fly during treatment.

However, not all games have to be digital. If you’re not into video games, you could grab a book of word searches, sudoku or crosswords. If you have a friend with you, you could take a deck of cards or board game to play together.

Well, these are just a few things to get you started. I’ll be back soon with Part II, which includes more of the medical/physically-comforting items to pack your in bag.

For now, keep on fighting, friends.

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