What Do I Bring to My First Chemo Appointment?
When you start chemotherapy, it is natural to be a little nervous. You may not know what to expect. Talking with your treatment team can help prepare you for the basics of what will be done. To help ease your nerves, even more, packing a small bag to take with you to your appointment can be helpful. This can be especially helpful if you are told your specific treatment will take several hours.
Each person is different, so these are just suggestions. You may find that as your treatments go on, different things work for you. Based on what is available at the treatment center, the things you pack can change as well.
Suggestions to bring to a chemo treatment
Since treatments can last several hours or even include an overnight hospital stay, comfortable clothes are a must. If you have a port, consider wearing a shirt with easy access to the port. You may want to wear layers that you can easily take on or off, based on the temperature in the room. Socks and comfortable shoes are a plus since hospitals and treatment centers can be cold.1
Plus, some chemo medicines can also make you feel cold. Comfortable clothes and layers can help keep you warm and cozy.2
You can bring your phone, laptop, or tablet with you, along with headphones. Streaming movies, television shows, or music can help you pass the time and be a nice distraction. Social media can also keep your mind off of the treatment and help you connect with others.
Writing, drawing, or craft materials
If you journal or write, draw, or do something like crochet or knit, you can bring these with you. Journaling or drawing can help you relax and get your feelings out. Knitting or another hobby can be a relaxation technique, a nice distraction, or just give you some uninterrupted time to work on a project!
Pack some snacks
Many places will have snacks for you, but if you have a favorite snack, make sure to pack it. If you are at the treatment center for several hours, you might want to eat something more filling.
Chemotherapy can cause changes in appetite, a metallic taste in the mouth, and mouth sores, so pack soft foods or cold foods in a cooler. Hard candy, lemon drops, and ginger candy can also help with the metallic taste and get rid of dry mouth or nausea.2,3
Your treatment center will likely have beverages for everyone. However, if there is a particular drink you like, bring it with you. You will want to stay hydrated during and after chemotherapy.
If you have a favorite blanket or small pillow, a beloved picture of family or friends, or a good-luck charm that brings you comfort, pack it in your bag. These can give you some encouragement and extra emotional support. A small pillow or favorite blanket can also help you relax or even nap during your treatment.
Things to consider
After your first chemotherapy appointment, you will know more about what to expect. Your bag’s contents might change each time, depending on what you find works for you, what you wished you had, or what was not needed.
Do you have a safe space where others understand what you are going through?