1. Chemo bag
It is worth having a bag of everything you need to take to the hospital for each round of chemo which is packed and ready. This is what I took along each time:
1. Snacks I found that anything I ate whilst I was in hospital having chemo, I could not eat again at home for quite some time until long after all my chemo finished. It was a kind of association between the taste/smell of the food and how ill the chemo made me feel. So, take snacks of things that you like but which are not your favourites just in case you go off them.
2. Herbal tea bags if you don’t want the tea and coffee that the hospital provides.
3. Warm socks or slippers in case you are sitting around for a long time and you can get a bit chilly. It is worth also taking a shawl or blanket because you may find that you are sometimes cold when you have chemo. I went from being hot to cold to hot to cold so I wore a vest top which gave easy access to the port in my chest and when I was hot I was comfortable wearing that.
4. Water bottle or alternative drinks. I took squash because water tasted horrible after a few weeks of chemo.
5. Hard boiled sweets because sometimes the chemo can leave a bad taste or metallic taste in your mouth.
6. Lipbalm and handcream because your skin and lips can get really dry and if you take one which smells nice then it will be a distraction from all the hospital smells.
7. Notebook and pen because you might like to jot down notes and if you have any questions you can make a note of the answers, and a note of any instructions from the nurses (with chemo brain I forgot everything by the time I got home so a notepad and pen were essential for me).
8. Hospital chemotherapy book – the one the hospital gives you to record your appointments.
9. Antibacterial hand gel
11. Something to do like a crossword or puzzle book or a mindfulness colouring book and pencils – a friend bought me one of these and it was a great way to get distracted and pass the time. Or an iPad/tablet/laptop with downloaded films etc. and earphones.
12. Possibly something for lunch depending on how long you will be in hospital and whether or not you will be provided with lunch – check with the chemo nurses before you go for your first round of chemo. and actually what’s the harm in taking a sandwich just in case you are delayed. You don’t want to go hungry on today of all days.
13. If you are planning to do the cold cap then you may need to take conditioner and a comb if the hospital doesn’t provide them, plus a warm scarf/shawl. Check with the chemo nurses what you need to take.
14. One of my Twitter followers recommended taking forzen peas and grapes to such on during taxol which helps to prevent mouth sores. Not sure if it works but it might be worth a try.
2. Emergency hospital bag
Pack your emergency hospital bag. This is so that you have everything ready if you need to rush to A&E with any of the more serious side effects, or if you have to go in over night between cycles. Things to pack:
⁃ Wash bag
⁃ Book/ something to do while waiting
⁃ Set of clean underwear, clothes
⁃ Antibacterial hand gel and antibacterial wipes
If you do need to go to A&E remember to take your chemo records with you – you may have a booklet or folder that you take to each of your chemo appointments. And it might be worth taking this bag to each of your hospital appointments (leave it in the car) in case you are kept in overnight.
Note: my number 1 tip for someone about to embark upon chemotherapy or already undergoing it is to get a copy of “Braving Chemo: What to Expect, How to Prepare and How to Get Through It” by Beverly A. Zavaleta MD (available from Amazon and other book stores). For my full review of this book see Breast Cancer Book Reviews.