It is normal to feel a little nervous before starting chemotherapy treatments. You’re hoping for a comfortable experience, but you may be there for up to several hours — it all depends on your chemotherapy plan.
In general, it takes around 5 to 7 hours for chemotherapy. Ask your doctor in advance what to expect. It also helps to have some ideas for passing the time and keeping your mind off your treatment, especially if you can’t bring a family member or friend.
How can you plan to make your chemotherapy session more comfortable? We have compiled some valuable ideas here to make your chemotherapy session easier.
Healthy snacks and water
Bring a water bottle, as staying hydrated can help flush toxins out of your body and combat chemo side effects like nausea, constipation and fatigue. Bring snacks like crackers, fresh fruit, chicken, dry fruits, and ginger tea to stay nourished. Chemo can cause dry mouth and taste changes, so bring mints, lemon drops, ginger chews or hard candies.
Books/tablets or magazines
If you’ve wanted to escape into a new book, reading is an excellent way to stay calm and pass the time during chemo. If you can bring along a friend or family member, consider reading the same book so you can discuss it together.
Your phone, laptop or iPad
Listening to music, a meditation app, or watching a movie or TV show can be a good distraction from chemo and help you stay relaxed. Don’t forget to pack your charger and earplugs/headphones.
Journal/notebook or coloring book/sketchpad
Journaling can be a great outlet for expressing your thoughts and feelings. Write a letter to someone to express your feelings. Make a list of things for which you are grateful. Bring a sketchbook to draw or doodle. Adult coloring books can help calm your mind as well.
Games, puzzles and crafts
Crossword puzzles, Sudoku and other games are a good distraction during chemo and can keep your mind sharp, which may help ward off the chemo brain. Try to play games which interest you. You may want to bring a crochet kit to create a scarf or hat. If a family member or friend is with you, a card game or conversation starter game can help pass the time.
It can get chilly in infusion centers, so a soft, cosy blanket or scarf can be comforting on chemo days. In addition to wearing comfortable clothes, bring warm socks or slippers. Chemo can dry your lips and skin, so bring lip balm and fragrance-free, hypoallergenic hand lotion.
Pack items that ease stress and help you relax, such as a neck pillow or an anti-nausea acupressure wristband. Bring your favorite photos or index cards with positive affirmations to help you stay relaxed and positive during chemo.
Chemotherapy treatments can be disruptive to your everyday routines. Some people experience side effects like nausea or hair loss. Packing a small chemo bag with items to keep yourself entertained and comfortable can help to make the experience more tolerable. You may also ask a friend to join you to help pass the time.