What I Bring To My Chemotherapy Treatment
Last updated: April 2023
Chemotherapy may be administered in different settings. These may include an outpatient clinic, physician's office, or hospital. The total time for the treatment may vary from one hour to several hours or even overnight if the physician feels patient observation is indicated. Labs may be drawn, and premedication may be administered to manage any untoward side effects of the chemotherapy agent.
Since this may be a tedious process, it is vital that you be comfortable. This requires planning and preparation and a proactive approach to self-care.
Preparing for chemotherapy
Try to get a good night’s sleep before your scheduled treatment. I was nervous and tried to find something positive such as counting down to the number of treatments until I was finished.
Drink fluids the day and night before. I had elected not to have a port, so my veins were an issue. If I was well hydrated, veins were easily accessible.
Make transportation arrangements. You are not sure how you may feel after the pre-treatment medications. Be safe and have someone else drive.
What to bring to your appointment
Plan how you will keep comfortable and use this “downtime” during the chemotherapy infusion. I selected a special tote bag that I named my “to-go” bag. I listed my supplies and replenished them after each treatment. The bag I chose was personalized with pictures of my granddaughter, the love of my life.
Consider the necessary access to a port or arm for the intravenous infusion/IV. Bring a sweater, sweatshirt, or light blanket as the room temperature may be cool. If you have experienced hair loss, try to keep your head warm with a hat or scarf. I also brought a small pillow and blanket to help me comfortably doze as the medication made me sleepy.
Snacks and fluids
A water bottle can help prevent dehydration and the water can help flush the toxins out of the bloodstream. I was hungry during my treatment and did enjoy my favorite snacks. I did not experience nausea but ginger and tea have helped some of my fellow patients receiving chemotherapy.
What do you enjoy to pass the time? Listen to music with headphones. My son made a playlist of my favorite music. Music and meditation are great distractions and can reduce anxiety. Consider bringing your phone, laptop, or tablet with your charger. Coloring books, puzzles, games, and crafts may be helpful. I found reading romance novels set at the beach to be most relaxing and helped me pass the time. Journaling has been shown to promote relaxation, allow you to express feelings, and chronicle your journey with cancer.
Check off your to-do list
I used this chemotherapy administration time to get organized and list the things that needed to be done. This gave me some control during a most difficult time.
Remember to bring a good pen, eyeglasses, toiletries, lip balm, and a toothbrush.
Finally, bring a friend if you can
The most important item on your list should be a friend. No one should face cancer alone. Many times, friends may feel helpless and not know how to help. Consider asking a friend to keep you company if this is permitted at your facility.
The above suggestions can help make you more comfortable during a difficult situation. I have found a sense of humor is extremely valuable at this time.
How do you feel about your support system?