Chemo is brutal, and there’s no way around that. It sucks, but we all want to make it the best possible experience for anyone going through chemo. Limiting the amount of discomfort and just helping someone out in need is the goal. Having a friend or a family member who’s going through it is tough for everyone involved, and you’ll find yourself wondering what you can do to help make this difficult situation just a little bit easier for your loved one. There are lots of different things you can do to help your loved one through chemotherapy, and some of them are as simple as just being there with them.
Another great thing that you can do for your loved one is to make them a chemo care package. It’s helpful, it’s fun, it will make chemo treatments just a little bit easier, and most importantly it shows your loved one how much you care and how much you’re thinking about them. It's always nice, especially in difficult times, to feel special and cared about. Those are the moments when we need to be shown we matter and are in our friends and family's thoughts.
Chemo care packages are exactly what they sound like: packages that contain different items you think your loved one might want/need/enjoy during their time in chemo. Some of these items might be personal comfort items, some of them might be entertainment items, and then other can be things like gifts of food and service. Whatever you decide to put in your package is up to you—YOU know what your loved one likes most or needs most, so you should be the one to pick out each item.
Here are 20 ideas we got from our friends at Magnolia Lane for items you might want to include in your chemo care package:
- Warm socks, scarves, or throw blankets—anemia can make you cold.
- Hard candy—to help combat nausea. Peppermint, ginger, root beer, and lemon/citrus flavors are supposed to work the best.
- Soft and stylish hats, caps, or scarves—for chilly and sensitive heads.
- Wet wipes and hand sanitizer—chemo can knock out your immune system and make you more easily susceptible to infection, so these are important to have.
- Tea—it’s comforting and can help with the nausea.
- Lip balm—chemo can dry everything out, so this helps to have.
- Pretty note cards/stamps/pens—in case they feel like writing notes to friends and family while they’re there.
- Sudoku or puzzle books—to help pass the time.
- A blank notebook or journal—to record their thoughts, or write down any questions they might have for their doctor.
- iTunes or Amazon gift cards—so they can buy audiobooks, ebooks, music, or other entertainment to help pass the time.
- People Magazine—you may choose a different magazine based on the person you know, but it’s always good to have some light, trashy entertainment in hand!
- DVD’s or a Netflix subscription—since they’ll be spending lots of time on the couch. This is perfect for people which young children as well.
- Meals, meals meals—because the last thing they’ll want to do while going through chemotherapy is to cook a bunch of meals.
- Lawn care—so they don’t have to worry about keeping up with yard maintenance.
- Child care—it’s incredibly hard going through chemo, but it’s even more difficult when you have little ones at home that require your care. Offering to watch the kids can be one of the biggest gifts you give your loved one.
- Housecleaning—Pay for cleaning service for your loved one, or offer to clean their house yourself.
- Gas cards—because all the driving back and forth for treatments adds up.
- Lotion—for dry skin. Try to stick with unscented brands, since strong smell can irritate chemo patients.
- PJ’s or comfortable loungewear—stick with button-down options rather than pullovers, it’s a little easier for patients to deal with.
- Restaurant gift cards—if you’re not a great cook, give your loved one a restaurant gift card instead.
This list isn't set in stone, it's simply to give you some ideas for your own chemo care package. Most commonly, our friends and family have their quirky little hobbies/interests and those are always a great place to start when thinking of thoughtful chemo care package goodies. Also, keep in mind that leaving a note expressing your love and care for this person is a nice touch. You're doing an amazing thing by being there for someone in chemo, considering it is one of the hardest things a person can do in their life. All of us at Rosetta Radiology want to give you a huge thank you.