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Hands opening a bag and another hand pulling out a granola bar; water bottle, socks, crayons, book, and earbuds also coming out

Building a Bag for Chemotherapy

As you prepare for your first chemo treatment and future treatments, I'd recommend you take a few things with you — a good friend, for starters.

They can help be there to support you, as well as keep you entertained. They can talk to you when you need it, laugh and cry when you need it. Sometimes you just need them to sit there with you in silence as you make your way through your treatment.

Pick your bag

I've always packed a bag and taken it to my treatment.

Pick a pretty one or one in your favorite color. I always had a set of headphones. If I could, I would typically fall asleep during my first infusion while I had music playing to help drown out all the other noises. No one wants to listen to the beeps and other things happening around you all the time.

Escape

Music can let you escape or help guide you through that difficult place. Music really can be anything you want it to be.

I always had a playlist I listened to, and some of it was hype, some of it was sad, and some of it was about hope and the future. Some days I'd skip certain songs, and some days I'd listen to them all the way through. Those headphones can also serve as a means to listen to audiobooks, podcasts, or whatever you desire.

On the flipside, something else in my bag - earplugs. Maybe I didn't want to listen to music, but I also didn't want to hear everything else going on around me. I knew that I could block everything else out with those air plugs.

What to bring to chemo

I always carried around a pack of Uno cards as well. f I had a friend or 2 with me, it gave us something to do to help pass the hours.

I had a journal to write in if I wanted to and when the mood struck. I also kept a word search book. Sometimes when I needed to mindlessly pass the time, I would open the word search. It allowed me to go hunting for something and kept my mind distracted.

I love to color when I find the time. I have always been into coloring since I was a child, so many people will gift you adult coloring books during this phase. I had my incredible markers gifted to me by a friend. I had colored pencils from someone else. Typically I had 1 or 2 coloring books. Sometimes I would even bring a good old kid's coloring book and a box of crayons.

I always brought a book. Usually, something hopeful that I was reading. I always have something just to keep me occupied, like a good mystery or love story to carry me through and distract me.

I had a friend bring Monopoly. I said, "That's going to take a long time to play." And they replied, "I heard that this could take a while." So we played Monopoly that day.

Stay hydrated and comfortable

Always keep yourself hydrated. I always had a water bottle, and I constantly had it filled. Some days I bring a hot drink because I was in chemo during the winter.

I always had a pair of fuzzy socks, and I always took my shoes off. I was trying to make myself as comfortable as possible.

I also had an awesome friend give me an incredible sweater I took to every treatment with me. I always carried a beanie if it wasn't on my head. You just never knew when you were going to be a little cold.

Building a bag for chemo

When packing a bag as you start your chemo treatment, or prepare for the next one, think about things that not only make you happy but also keep you busy. Things that can distract you are a good source of entertainment.

Put all those things in that bag. It can be as big or small if you want it to be, but it should be filled with things that will get you through some of the roughest hours of your day.

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