A tote bag with question marks coming out of it in a hospital room

What to Bring with You During Your Chemotherapy Treatment

Having a cancer diagnosis has been the most frightening event of my life. Even as an experienced RN, I did not know how to prepare for or what to expect. After the initial physical assessment, my oncology nurse started an IV. If I had a port, she would have accessed it for the IV infusion. Pre-medications for anti-nausea, steroids, and other medications to reduce potential side effects may be administered. The following are suggestions that I found helpful and included in my chemo bag.

Wear comfortable clothing

Choose clothes that allow access for the IV insertion, this may be your arm or chest for a port. Consider bringing a sweater, shawl, or blanket as you may feel chilly. I loved bringing a personalized blanket that had pictures of my family. Some patients may bring a small pillow. This was helpful as I would fall asleep after receiving some of the premeds.

During this “downtime”, one can utilize things that relax you. For me, classical music and my favorite music can help calm my nerves. I have a lovely canvas tote with pictures of my granddaughter that I decided to use as my “chemo bag.” I included my iPhone and air buds to which my son was kind enough to download my music. Consider any activity that you find calming. These may include puzzles, crossword puzzles, playing cards, or adult coloring books.

Reading materials

Consider taking your iPad, tablet, laptop, or favorite book. I found reading romance novels enjoyable and it would transport me to an imaginary seaside location.

Journaling or writing may help pass the time which can last for several hours as the chemotherapy infuses. I chronicled my cancer journey, documented my feelings, and hopes as well as including things that I would like to do. Such a list also helped with my chemo brain, as at times I could not remember details.


I was fortunate to have my husband available to drive and accompany me during my chemotherapy sessions. This was a positive result of the loss of his job. You may choose a friend or close family member to accompany you. Friends and family often welcome any opportunity to help.

Healthy snacks and personal items

Cafeteria food may not be the most appealing. I would bring my favorite snacks. Interesting how I never lost my appetite or a pound. You may like ginger ale and bottled water. Hard candy and Chapstick may help dry mouth or lip sores. Other items you may consider include a toothbrush, soft fluffy socks, lotion, or a scarf.

The above actions helped make my monthly chemotherapy more comfortable. I hope you find them helpful.

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