A chemotherapy care package seems like the ideal gift for someone just about to embark on a course of chemotherapy. But what to put in the care package can be confusing. Everyone’s cancer is unique and everyone responds to treatment differently.
So before we discuss our top ten items that you should put in a chemo care package here are some suggestions of what not to add.
What not to put in a chemotherapy care package
Items for the hair or for chemotherapy hair loss
Whilst it is common to associate chemotherapy with hair loss, modern treatments mean that not everyone loses their hair. So it would be very presumptuous to put in a cap or scarf to cover any hair loss (and possibly upsetting). If you are thinking of adding any sort of hair item it is best to check with the person you are giving your gift to first.
Food (including chocolates and comfort food)
Chemotherapy can wreak havoc with the taste buds and people can go off the food that they used to love or feel too nauseous to eat. You might think that a luxury bar of their favourite chocolate would be just what they need, but you might find that they just can’t face it. Added to this many people change their diets when they have a cancer diagnosis, some cut out sugar from their diet completely whilst others stop eating meat. So unless you know the person well and can verify what they are eating its best to stay away from most types of food (we do have a few exceptions to this which you will read about in our TOP TEN list below).
Flowers or plants
We have heard that sometimes people will add a little plant for the bedside into a chemo care pack. Whilst at first thought this seems like a nice idea it is recommended to stay away from flowers and plants during chemo as flowers become a threat to the weak immune system simply because of the germs they carry.
Top Ten Items For A Chemotherapy Care Package
1. Water Bottle.
Chemotherapy can be very dehydrating and it’s always good to stay hydrated at the best of times. A few little water bottles or a fancy water bottle in a cancer care package is a good reminder to drink.
2. Books or magazines
Novels, magazines, audiobooks and/or colouring books can help pass the time and take the mind away from the stress of cancer and its therapies.
As we have said, cancer treatments can be dehydrating, and so a nice face and/or hand moisturiser might not only be welcome but could be a nice pampering item for your chemotherapy gift box.
4. Lip Balms
I don’t think we need to mention the effects of chemotherapy on dehydration anymore! Lips are also affected and a nice lip balm can be a good soother.
5. Bed socks
A side effect of some chemotherapies is cold hands and feet, so bed socks during and after chemotherapy can be of great value. And even if the chemo doesn’t make them cold, they can create a comfy, pampering feeling which may be needed.
6. Peppermint tea
This is our first exception to the no foods rule that we mentioned at the start of this article. Peppermint tea is a good relaxer for both the mind and body and there is nothing in it that would interfere with any cancer treatment or its side effects. Also, if there is chemotherapy nausea, peppermint tea can help.
7. Music/Headphones/MP3 player
Music can be a good way to relax during and after chemotherapy sessions, it could also help take the mind away from the every day stress of cancer.
8. Ginger (tea, boiled sweets, chewy sticks…)
This is another exception to our rule regarding no food. As there is evidence that when taken with standard anti-nausea medications, ginger can reduce or eliminate nausea and vomiting which can occur during and after chemotherapy treatments. It is also cancer treatment safe.
9. Soft pillow or neck rest
A soft pillow or neck rest can be very valuable during chemotherapy sessions to put under the legs or behind the head. A good aid to feel more comfortable.
10. Small bag to carry food or medicines
A small holdall or food bag would be useful to carry medicines/foods or other items to and from chemotherapy.
If you have any comments or suggestions please do let us know. This is not an exhaustive list and we very much welcome your opinion.