Caregivers – family and friends of cancer patients – want to provide meaningful support to their loved ones who are going through chemotherapy (“chemo”).
Undergoing chemotherapy treatment can be a very difficult time for both patients and caregivers. There is no rulebook, no guidelines, no playbook, no how-to manual. The most frequent question we are asked by our community is: “What more can I do to help? We like the idea of putting together a homemade personalized care package or gift basket to show you are thinking of him or her.
To answer your call, we have created a list of the following items you can include in a customized chemo care package that can be used before, during and after treatment:
What To Wear: From Head to Toe
Headwear (such as Scarves and Hats)
Different types of headwear like colorful scarves and soft and stylish hats can be a great way to stay warm and feel good! Also, these items can help protect patients from exposure to the sun during treatments that may leave them extra vulnerable to ultraviolet damage. Check out Style Esteem and Love Your Melon for some inspiration!
Clothing that provides quick yet discreet, access to your chest during treatment makes infusion sessions easier whether you have a central line or a port. Care+Wear offers a collection of comfortable shirts that do just that. Another option is our chest port access hoodies that will keep you cozy and comfortable throughout treatment and beyond.
Pajamas and Comfortable Post-Surgery Loungewear
We all want to be comfortable – especially one who is undergoing treatment. Drawstring sweatpants and button-down shirts are ideal for access to your chest as well as short-sleeved or loose-sleeved shirts that can be rolled up for access to your arm. Check out some fun pajama sets: Old Navy Women's Pajamas and Old Navy Men's Pajamas. For special post-surgery loungewear, we recommend the Ana Ono Miena Robe.
Socks or Slippers
Another way to combat the cold is a durable pair of warm socks or slippers that are perfect for lounging in treatment rooms or at home. We recommend Bombas Women's Gripper Socks and Bombas Men's Gripper Socks for non-binding comfort, support, and traction. Slippers such as UGG Women's Slippers and UGG Men's Slippers are also a great option for trips to the bathroom and for walking around.
Stay Hydrated: Inside and Out
Gentle Skin and Natural Beauty Moisturizers
Dry and sensitive skin is a common side effect of both chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Natural beauty products or those used for sensitive skin will help prevent irritations and rashes. We recommend including various types of gentle moisturizers especially ointments or creams rather than lotions because the thicker consistency tends to be better at preventing skin dehydration. It is also recommended to look for hypoallergenic products that don’t have strong fragrances since strong smells can also be irritating. Some of our suggestions include: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, Tula Moisturizing Skin Products, First Aid Beauty Ultra-Repair Skin Cream,and Violets are Blue Facial Serum.
Similar to the skin, lips can become very dry so it is important to have a richly hydrating lip balm. Many dermatologists recommend using lip balms, with ingredients such as shea butter, petrolatum, or glycerin. Try Honest Co. Organic Lip Balm, Burt's Bees Natural Moisturizing Lip Balm or eos Organic Lip Balm Sphere.
BPA-Free Water Bottle
Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate! In addition to keeping your skin hydrated it is equally as important to keep your body hydrated throughout the duration of treatments where one may experience nausea and vomiting. Keeping a water bottle close by helps encourage water intake throughout the day and can help prevent dehydration. Check out Hydro-Flask Standard Water Bottle.
Combatting Nausea and Dry Mouth
Herbal or Caffeine-Free Tea
An upset stomach can be an unfortunate side effect of chemotherapy. Ginger and lemon teas can be helpful to soothe upset stomachs and help manage treatment-induced nausea. We also recommend making sure the tea is caffeine-free such as mint and chamomile flavors to prevent any major distractions in one’s sleep cycle. Some doctors even recommend limiting the amount of green or white tea because, while they are packed with antioxidant photochemical, the antioxidants might interfere with the desired effects of chemotherapy. Check out some options here: Traditional Medicinals Organic Lemon Balm Tea and Numi Organic Moroccan Herbal Tea. For nausea specifically, ginger chews or candies such as Tummydrops may also be helpful.
Dry Mouth Aids
Patients undergoing chemotherapy frequently oftentimes complain about a “metal mouth,” or a metallic and dry mouth after treatment. For those with painful mouth sores that usually appear 1 to 2 weeks after some types of chemo begin, it is recommended to use over-the-counter toothpaste (avoid whitening toothpaste that may contain hydrogen peroxide), oral rinses and gels made from Biotene Dry Mouth Products, which may help alleviate the discomfort.
Soft and Warm Blankets
Hospitals and infusion centers can often be very cold and chemotherapy can increase one’s sensitivity to extreme temperatures because of a number of side effects including neuropathy – a type of nerve damage, weight loss and low blood platelets. A great option to stay warm during treatment and at home is by making or buying a soft blanket such as or a weighted blanket like VelvetLoft® Plush Throw Blanket or a weighted blanket like Gravity Blankets.
Eye Mask, Ear Plugs, and Neck Pillow
Unscented Wet Wipes and Hand Sanitizer
During treatment, your immune system is lowered and patients are more susceptible to infection so having wet wipes such as Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-Surface Wipes and hand sanitizer that do not have odors can help keep the germs away, especially if you are going in and out of the hospital frequently for treatment.
Silk or Fleece Pillow Case
Patients undergoing chemotherapy with newly bald scalps can be very sensitive, especially since skin is can be more sensitive in general as a side effect of chemotherapy. Hence, including soft pillow covers such as Slip Pillow Cover could help with the sensitivity while lying in bed.
Let Us Entertain You
Books and Magazines
Oftentimes while undergoing treatment and going to and from doctors' appointments there is a lot of time to sit and wait. We recommend including a few magazines to help the time go by faster.
iTunes Gift Card
Music is always a great gift! An iTunes gift card is perfect because your loved one can pick what music he or she wants to listen to. They can also use it to buy audiobooks, ebooks, movies, and tv shows.
Streaming Video Service Subscription
Giving a subscription for a video streaming service like Netflix can also provide more entertainment during what could be a few hours of infusion during each treatment session.
Crossword and Sudoku Puzzle Books
Crossword and Sudoku puzzles can help patients stay busy during treatment and keep their minds sharp!
Providing a place to document thoughts and feelings or write down any questions one may have for doctors and nurses may also be helpful throughout.
If you have any further questions, feel free to contact us for more information.