The first time I packed my chemo bag it looked like I was packing for a weekend getaway instead of a chemotherapy treatment. The bag was so heavy my husband had to carry it for me. I was nervous about my first infusion and wanted to ensure I had everything I could want or need.
And yes, I did have everything I needed and a whole lot more that I didn’t need!
I only used about a quarter of the items I packed in my chemo bag for that first treatment. So I eliminated everything I didn’t need, and my tote was much lighter for my next treatment. But, my sweet husband still carried it for me. 😉
If you’re preparing for your first chemotherapy treatment, here’s a Helpful list of items you will want to include in your chemo bag.
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Choosing the Best Tote Bag to Use as a Chemo Bag
You will want to use a tote bag that is light and comfortable to carry but sturdy enough to hold everything you need.
I’ve tried several, but my favorite is this canvas hobo purse. It’s not the glitziest of bags, but I love the storage pockets and design. Plus, it’s inexpensive, durable, and comes in a variety of colors.
I also like that it’s not too large, holds my tumbler in the side pocket, and everything is easily accessible.
What to Pack in Your Chemo Bag
Some infusion centers provide food, while others may not. You’ll want to bring something to eat during your treatments. Since chemo can alter your tastebuds, it’s better to pack a few different small snacks.
Portable snacks to consider are granola bars, crackers, chips, cookies, etc.
And, if you’ll be there during lunchtime, you’ll want to pack a light lunch in your chemo bag too.
You could be spending several hours in treatment, and you want to keep your energy level up during treatment. So, you want to make sure you bring enough food for the day.
Some infusion centers have snacks you can purchase, so take some cash with you if you want to buy something different from the snacks you have in your bag.
You’ll need to stay hydrated. Make sure you have water with you. Ginger ale is also a good choice. I always made sure to take my favorite Zevia Ginger Ale with me.
I carried a 20oz insulated tumbler with a lid and straw to my treatments. The tumbler easily fits into the outside pocket of my favorite tote bag. I filled it with ice before leaving home and kept my drink cold for hours.
Sucking on hard candies during treatment can be helpful in many ways. Any flavor of candy helps keep your mouth from feeling dry. Different flavors, however, work better for different side effects. For nausea, ginger or peppermint candies are best. Try lemon drops to counter the metallic taste associated with some chemo medicines. And peppermint help with nausea, dry mouth, and metallic taste.
To prevent dry, chapped lips.
Personal Care Products
Kleenex, hand lotion, and antibacterial wipes. Because chemo can make you sensitive to certain smells, choose unscented products
Soft, Comfy Throw
It can get chilly in the infusion center. And while most centers provide warm blankets, you may prefer to bring your favorite soft, comfy throw to cuddle up in.
Warm, Fuzzy Socks
If your infusion takes several hours, you may want to take your shoes off. Soft fuzzy socks will keep your feet warm.
Tablet and headphones
With an iPad or electronic tablet, you have hours of entertainment (books, games, music, movies, etc.) And since the infusion center can get noisy, having headphones to put on and listen to music can help you relax.
Chargers for Cell Phone and Tablet
Streaming movies, social media, and surfing the web can quickly drain your cell phone and tablet’s batteries. Don’t forget to pack your chargers. There should be an electric outlet near your infusion station.
Small Notebook and Pen
It helps to have a notebook and pen handy for jotting down thoughts, notes, and important information you need to remember.
Other Items to Occupy Your Mind
Bring a couple of items that will keep you entertained -Magazines, Puzzle Books, Adult Coloring Books with Colored pencils, etc. Or, if you’re a knitter or crocheter, bring a skein of yarn and your hook or needles. Here’s the simple crochet cap pattern I used. I crocheted several caps during my treatments. A few I wore and the remainder I donated to the infusion center. Working with my hands helped release nervous energy and kept my mind busy.
Pack these few items in your chemo bag and you should have everything you need for your chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer.
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