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For Everyone Touched By Cancer

Top Twenty Items For A Chemotherapy Care Package

Written by Cancer Care Parcel on 
11th May, 2022
Updated: 4th February, 2024
Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

There is no doubt that a chemo care package is a thoughtful gift

A chemotherapy care package seems like the ideal gift for someone just about to embark on a course of chemotherapy.  If constructed properly, it can

  • Create a pampering and comforting experience.
  • Have practical value, for example gifts that reduce chemo side effects or that can help on the days the patient has their treatment can be included.
  • Show your support.

But what to put in the care package can be confusing, how do you know which gifts will help your freind or loved one?  Everyone's cancer is unique and everyone responds to treatment differently. Whilst, for example, a nice scarf or head covering may help some chemo patients, its should definately not be the go to gift when your friend or loved one is undergoing chemotherapy (we discuss why later in this article).

So before we discuss the top ten gifts you should put in a chemo care package, here are some suggestions of what not to add (and our reasons why).

What should not go in a chemotherapy care package?

Items for the hair or for chemotherapy hair loss
Whilst it is common to associate going through chemotherapy with hair loss, modern treatments mean that not everyone loses their hair.  So it would be very presumptuous to put in a cap or scarf to cover any hair loss (and possibly upsetting) in your care package.  So whilst it is normal to worry about side effects side as hair loss, if you are thinking of adding any sort of hair item as one of the gifts in your package, it is best to check with the person you are giving your gift to first.

Food (including chocolates and comfort food)
Chemotherapy can wreak havoc with the taste buds and chemo patients can go off the food that they used to love or feel too nauseous to eat.  You might think that a luxury bar of their favourite chocolate would be a great gift and just what they need when undergoing treatment, but you might find that they just can't face it.  Added to this many people change their diets when they have a cancer diagnosis, some cut out sugar from their diet completely whilst others stop eating meat.  So unless you know the person well and can verify what they are eating its best to stay away from most types of food (we do have a few exceptions to this which you will read about in our TOP TEN list below).

Flowers or plants
We have heard that sometimes people will add a little plant for the bedside into a chemo care pack.  Whilst at first thought this seems like a thoughtful gift for your friend or loved one, it is recommended to stay away from flowers and plants during chemo as flowers become a threat to the weak immune system simply because of the germs they carry. So flowers and plants are definately not a good addition to your gift package or basket.

Perfumes and Scented items
Chemo can often alter a patients sense of smell and scents that were once appealing or pleasant to them could now make them feel nauseous. So it best to hold of buying anything that is heavily scented. As an alternative, there are many gentle unscented luxury lotions, creams, and other skincare products very well suited for chemo patients. This could still provide a sense of luxury without triggering any nausea.

To explore further what not to but cancer patients click here.

We have put together a top ten list of gifts you can add to your hamper or basket, taking into account items that may help with specific issues your friend might be facing, which you will find below. But putting this together can be costly and time consuming and you might want to consider buying an already thoughtfully curated gift hamper, designed by people who have had experience with cancer, for example :-

Popular chemotherapy care packages

20 best products for a chemo care package

1. Moisturisers

Cancer treatments can be dehydrating, and so a nice face and/or hand moisturiser might not only be welcome but could be a nice pampering item for your chemo care package.

2. Books or magazines

Novels, magazines, audiobooks and/or colouring books can help pass the time and take the mind away from the stress of cancer and its therapies.

3. Inspirational Mug

Inspirational quotes and memes or just a brightly coloured cheerful mug can sometimes lighten peoples spirits. A carefully chosen mug could also show you care (to see the full range of drinkware click here).

4. Lip balm

I don't think we need to mention the effects of undergoing chemotherapy on dehydration anymore!  Lips are also affected and a nice lip balm can be a good soother. A lovely addition to care packages.

5. Bed socks

A side effect of some chemotherapies is cold hands and feet, so bed socks during and after chemotherapy can be of great value.  And even if the chemo doesn't make them cold, they can create a comfy, pampering feeling which may be needed.

6.  Soft pillow or neck rest

A soft pillow or neck rest can be very valuable during chemotherapy sessions to put under the legs or behind the head.  A good gift to help patients feel more comfortable.

7. Peppermint tea

This is our first exception to the no foods rule that we mentioned at the start of this article.   Peppermint tea is a good relaxer for both the mind and body and there is nothing in it that would interfere with any cancer treatment or its side effects.  Also, if there is chemotherapy nausea, peppermint tea can help with this common side effect.

8. Music/Headphones/MP3 player

Music can be a good way to relax during and after undergoing chemotherapy treatment, it could also help take the mind away from the every day stress of cancer.

9. Ginger

This is another exception to our rule regarding no food.  As there is evidence that ginger (in the form of tea, boiled sweets, chewy sticks...) when taken with standard anti-nausea medications, may help reduce or eliminate nausea and vomiting which can occur during and after chemotherapy treatments in patients.  It is also cancer treatment safe.

10. Water bottle

Chemotherapy can be very dehydrating and it's always good to stay hydrated at the best of times.  A few little water bottles or a fancy water bottle in a cancer care package is a good reminder to drink.

11. Small bag to carry food or medicines

A small holdall or food bag would be useful to carry medicines/foods or other items to and from chemotherapy. This is particularly useful if eating is restricted (for example due to nausea or bad tastes in the mouth). When this is the cane eating small amount but often is usually recommended, so its always good to have some food handy.

12. Handwarmer

The extremities can get very cold with therapy, so handwarmers can come in useful.

13. Adult colouring book

Ideal for passing the time and to take the mind away from stressful situations

14. Hot water bottle

Hot water bottles can sometimes help with nausea and can defiantly help with cold hands and feet caused by treatment.

15. Snuggly blanket

A gentle blanket can create a warm, soft, cosy and comforting feeling during treatment, at the hospital or at home.

You can find further suggested bedding items here.

16. Sleep, eye or face masks

All three types of masks are ideal for chemo patients, to get rest and stay safe. You can see some suggestions here or check our mask section for more.

17. Anti-nausea wristband

Anti-nausea wrist bands can help with the side effects of nausea and vomiting.

18. Lap tray

To make hospitals, bed rest and convalescence a bit easier.

19. Toothbrush and toothpaste

Chemotherapy can cause complications like sores in the mouth and changes to the teeth, salivary glands, gums and bone, which makes mouth care important before, during and after cancer treatment. Part of this care is brushing regularly with a soft toothbrush and this can also help with bad tastes from the therapy.

20. Heartfelt note or letter

A letter would not just be the place to comment on the fact that you are sorry to hear about what they are going through and to offer support through whatever means you can. It can also be an opportunity to take their thoughts away from their diagnosis. Perhaps you could relay some stories about what you have been up to, or suggest that you might visit your friend in the future.

There are also cancer empathy cards that have appropriate wordings on them which you can send to your friend to show support and free digital cancer support cards designed to be received immediately or in a scheduled manner, perhaps to coincide with the start or end of a treatment. You can find out more about what to say to someone with cancer by clicking here.

Last thoughts

If you have any comments or suggestions please do let us know.  This is not an exhaustive list and we very much welcome your opinion.

Further reading

Shop for Chemotherapy Gifts

Six Best Gift Ideas For A Chemotherapy Survivor: For Celebration & Recovery

Helping A Friend With Cancer: What You Need to Know

How To Choose The Right Cancer Gift: Four Tips To Guide You

68 Best Gift Ideas For A Chemotherapy Patient

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