When your friend or loved one is diagnosed with cancer and going through chemotherapy you want to do everything you can to lend your support and help. There are many small ways to help but sometimes it is the thoughtful things, like a personal gift that shows you care and pampers the patient a little, that mean the most. Whether you live near or far, one great way to lend your support and show that you care is with a “chemo care package.” While you can call it anything you want, the idea behind it remains the same – a selection of gifts, large or small, based on the unique needs and interests of your loved one or friend, that will help them get through a tough time and distract them, if only for moment.
The care package will look very different for each person but any patient going through treatment, regardless of age or diagnosis, will appreciate such a thoughtful gift. A care package for a child diagnosed with cancer will look very different from an elderly person diagnosed with cancer but there are some common themes that will help guide your selections. The first general category is “personal care items.” This category could include things that will pamper and help patients avoid unnecessary discomfort during treatment. Some suggestions include cozy socks or slippers (with grips on the sole preferable), chapstick, gum or mouthwash, lotion, hard candies or mints for nausea, acozy blanket for chills, and a soft scarf or nice hat for covering the head and keeping warm. With these items, generally speaking, it is best to avoid strong scents as much as possible until you know how the patient will react during treatment to scents. A strongly scented lotion, for example, may trigger nausea. If you feel comfortable and know the patient would enjoy it, throw in something fun that might make them feel pampered like a nail polish or fun lipstick to make them feel a little more “themself” during treatment.
The next category to include is snacks and refreshments. This again will be highly individual and you may want to tread carefully in case certain foods trigger nausea. It is important for a patient going through treatment to be nourished so that their stamina can be sustained but more bland foods may be preferable. Items like crackers, granola bars, tea, a nice lidded cup for water and a favorite treat such as a candy bar or savory snack.
Finally, items that can help distract during treatment are often appreciated. This can be anything including a journal, a good book or two, crossword puzzles, board games, or a magazine. These items are of the “just for fun” variety generally and can be tailored to suit the unique preferences of the patient. When packaging it is nice to include a personalized note, or a few to read during treatment sessions so that your loved one or friend can feel connected to you. Package everything in a nice sturdy tote bag or small rolling case to make transport to and from appointments easy. No matter the size of the package, or the contents, sending a “chemo care package” to your friend or loved one when they are going through treatment will make them feel special, more normal and well-loved and supported, making a difficult time just a little bit easier.