Inspiration hit me while I was browsing the Internet looking for information my sister would need to know while she was in the midst of her chemotherapy treatments. I wanted to be at my sister’s chemo appointments, but wouldn’t be able to attend many of them — if any at all. But I wanted her to feel my support and love while she was seeking treatments, or while she was at home not feeling well.
I decided she needed a Chemo Care Package. You too can create your own care package and customize it to a family member or a friend with what fits them best.
Here are some ideas!
- Slippers or fuzzy socks: If you were stuck in treatments for hours on end, wouldn’t you like something warm and cozy? I know I would. Just make sure the socks you get have rubber grippers on the bottoms. You definitely do not want your friend or family member to fall on the way to the bathroom.
- Stainless steel water bottle: Most important is the water. Water is beneficial for many things, especially to combat dehydration. I chose stainless steel for the health benefits as many plastics have BPA or BPS in them – both toxic to our bodies.
- Lip balm: Women often have chapped lips due to their chemo treatments.
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash: Chemotherapy often leaves a nasty taste in your mouth. This definitely helps with that taste. However, I found out later that what I sent my sister was not recommended because it can be harsh to the sensitive gums. Locate those natural, less irritating products to include in the care package.
- Breath mints: Just in case brushing their teeth didn’t work.
- Hand sanitizer: While in the middle of chemotherapy treatments, one’s immune system is often weakened. Although we may like the smelly hand sanitizer on a normal day, the smell may bother a chemo patient. Therefore, non-scented sanitizers may be best.
- Hand lotion: After all that hand sanitizer or hand washing, you’ll need to lotion up. Having hands that itch due to dry skin is not any fun.
- Tissues: For all those laughs, tears, and even runny noses.
- Eye mask: Often enough, the treatments rooms are busy and noisy, but just in case the patient has the opportunity to sleep, provide them an eye mask to block out the light.
- Something cozy: A homemade blanket or throw so they can snuggle up in their chair.
- Deck of cards: If they are alone, a game of solitaire can help pass the time. If there is company, play a round of cards.
- A book of word searches or brain games: Many cancer patients report their mind is in a fog, a book of games may help with their focus.
- A journal and pen: To help write down their thoughts, doctor’s instructions, or just to doodle.
- Angel figurines and pins: Angels to watch over a cancer patient during treatments, in the car, and at home.
- Silk pillowcase: I have heard numerous reports that when hair falls out, an everyday pillowcase may make a head itch. The silk will help combat the itch that may occur, plus can be cooler on the head when a middle of the night hot flash hits.
- Cute hats and scarves: If you are like my sister, she opted not to have a wig. Hats and scarves were worn daily. Look closely at the seams of the hats to see if they are sharp or have rough edges as they may irate the head while being worn.
- Chemo bag: Don’t forget to put all of this into a bag so the patient can transport it easily to appointments.
Angela Banker is a mother, a wife, a daughter, and a sister; she is also a young survivor, a caregiver, a supporter, and a fighter. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 33, and found herself empowered to share her story to raise awareness about breast cancer. Angela participates in Relay For Life, started the Sisters Beating Breast Cancer page to inspire others, and continues to "fight like a girl" with the hope that her daughter will never have to hear the dreaded words, "You have cancer."