Managing Treatments

What to Include in a Chemo Care Package

Someone going through chemotherapy would appreciate good reading material and a soft, fuzzy blanket.

As a friend or caregiver, sometimes it’s hard to know how you can help a loved one going through chemotherapy. An easy solution is putting together a simple chemo care package containing goodies that would be useful during the treatment process. Whether it helps your loved one heal or keeps him or her entertained and distracted during treatment, it will undoubtedly make an impact. Here are some ideas of what to include.

Gifts of Personal Care

People going through chemotherapy have different personal care needs. A custom personal care basket might include a dry mouth oral rinse, lotion, lip balm, hand sanitizer, tissues, water bottles and hard candies to combat dry mouth, throat and skin. A silk pillowcase feels good on a head that’s losing hair and would be a welcome addition to a chemo care package.

The chemotherapy agents feel cold when going into the body. Consider giving your friend fuzzy socks, a blanket or cozy sweater. A selection of tea is a nice touch too. If the chemotherapy center provides hot water, you can just buy a funny or inspiring mug or get a travel mug with a lid, so your friend can make the tea at home and bring it with her. Straws are a thoughtful extra, as they make it easier to sip while lying back in a chair.

Gift of Entertainment

You can watch so much content on your smart phone or tablet these days. If your friend doesn’t have a subscription to a streaming network, like Netflix, it makes a nice gift. An iTunes card lets your friend add music, shows and games to her phone. Or get a portable DVD player and some classic movies he can watch. Magazines are easy to skim, and don’t require much concentration, unless it’s The New Yorker. For something light, pick up a celebrity magazine, home decorating publication or a sports preview. Puzzle books like sudoku are good for short attention spans and can be done while listening to music or podcasts.

If your friend has an appetite for candy, homemade cookies or a specific (even nostalgic) snack food, this is a wonderful gift. Make sure to check if your friend’s treatment comes with any dietary restrictions or if any foods are no longer appetizing due to chemo nausea.

Gifts of Company and Thought

Objects are nice, but company is sometimes even better. Offer to take your friend to the chemotherapy session, keeping the person engaged in conversation, or just being a quiet companion who gets drinks or arranges the blanket.

A journal is a great companion for someone going through chemotherapy as well. There’s always something to record, whether it’s what the person is thinking about during chemo, advice from another patient, instructions from the doctor or nurse, tracking progress or recording how the chemotherapy session went. Your friend might appreciate light-hearted reading, too, like a romance novel, a book of cartoons or maybe a spiritual memoir. If there’s something your friend has always wanted to read, like all of Shakespeare’s plays or every “Game of Thrones” book, this is a great time to start. Assisting your friend with a small, personal goal like that can help her take her mind off treatment.

A chemo care package requires some thoughtfulness, but doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult to make. Use your knowledge of your what you friend likes and figure out something that will be meaningful and helpful using some of the suggestions here. Your friend will be touched by the gesture, and the gift becomes an important part of the healing process.

  • Rita Dobbins Hamblin

    A Bible is helpful! I have been through cancer, chemo and radiation!

  • claireduncalf

    You can get a ready-made chemo care package from Live Better With Cancer – it comes with queasy drops, skin oil, drinkable ginger chews and a muscle rub. They do 1 for radiotherapy too!

    https://livebetterwith.com/products/the-ultimate-chemo-hamper/

Deborah Abrams Kaplan
Deborah Abrams Kaplan