Attending a hospital or cancer care centre for chemotherapy can often be a long day of waiting – waiting to have your bloods taken, waiting to see your doctor and waiting to get time on a couch to receive your chemotherapy. We think packing a small bag with the following items will help you approach the day feeling prepared and ready.
1. Your medication
The most important of all these items. Remember to bring your medication with you to chemo, every single time. That’s your prescribed medication to help you with your chemo (for example, your anti-sickness meds) and any other medication you are on too (your nurse/doctor may ask what else you are on, or you may need or wish to take some of your other medication during the day).
2. A large bottle of water
Staying hydrated during chemo is also very important. Drinking up to 2 litres of filtered water every day will help your body to flush toxins out and help you to feel good. Being hydrated will help the nurses to take your blood quickly and easily as they shouldn’t have trouble finding a vein. You will also need your water to take any medication before your chemo and to sip on throughout the day.
3. A friend
While this is not something you can pack into your small bag, we do recommend bringing a friend or family member along with you to chemo. A friend will help you get through the day, both emotionally and logistically. You might find that even just their presence with you in the hospital brings you strength and courage. They can also help with things like doing the driving to and from the hospital, the act of paying for your parking, or minding your bag while you go to the bathroom. If you’re going to be at the hospital all day, it’s also nice to have someone with you to have lunch or a tea break with.
4. A notebook and pen
To write down any questions you may have for your nurse or doctor. To write down your feelings. To write down your to-do lists. To write down the name of a medication your doctor might recommend. There are lots of good reasons why you might need a notebook and pen at chemo.
5. A warm scarf
Sometimes hospitals are cold. Or, you may feel cold while receiving your chemo. A warm scarf is great to have on hand to warm yourself up if you feel chilled during the day. It can also be used to cover your mouth and nose if you are feeling vulnerable to germs in a waiting room situation.
6. A good book
Getting stuck into a really great book will help you pass the time during the day while you wait to receive your chemo. Ask your friends and family to recommend and lend their favourite book to you and work your way through them while you go through chemotherapy.
7. A healthy snack
Just in case the day drags on longer than you anticipate, having a healthy snack in your bag (for you and your friend) could make all the difference between a good day and a difficult day. Also having a healthy snack with you will keep you away from buying any unhealthy stuff in the hospital shop! We recommend packing some easily portable fruits, e.g. berries, kiwis, apples or bananas or healthy treats like homemade popcorn flavoured with chilli flakes/paprika rather than salt and sugar, or homemade muesli bars or flapjacks. If you don’t have the time or energy to prepare anything, ask a friend or family member to do it for you.
And that’s it. We’re sure you’ll find some extra things to pack too. Maybe your iPad and earphones? Or a packet of tissues and a packet of wet wipes? Whatever it is that you think will make you feel a little more organised and comfortable for the day is worth putting in.