A chemo care package is a thoughtful and helpful way to support cancer patients who are going through chemotherapy.
So I want to share some tried and true ideas for things to include in any custom chemo care package you make for a family member, a friend, or your local cancer center.
What Is A Chemo Care Bag?
If you came across this post in your search engine of choice, you were likely searching for specific information about chemo care packages or chemo care bags.
For those of you who landed here for other reasons, though, I felt a quick explanation would be helpful.
A cancer patient going through chemotherapy may have sides effects like:
Easy bruising and bleeding
Appetite changes, nausea, and vomiting
Mouth, tongue, and throat problems (e.g., dry mouth, sores and pain with swallowing)
Nerve problems, such as numbness, tingling, and pain
Skin and nail changes such as dry skin and color change
Chemo brain, which can affect concentration and focus
Source: Chemotherapy Side Effects | American Cancer Society)
So the items in the chemo care package typically include self-care items that assist with the above possible side effects and should help before, during, or after a chemotherapy treatment.
Many of the current chemotherapy protocols will allow patients to start their chemotherapy at a facility but finish it at home with a portable chemo pump.
The hospital or clinic will send them home with a fanny pack of some sort, but it's typically branded with the hospital name and kind of unsightly.
Sure, the pouch is functional, but I thought we could do better to support someone going through chemo.
So I designed a free pattern for a chemo pump pouch so that we could customize the look of the pouch for the person using it.
You can even easily create several "looks" for people who like to coordinate their outfits and their accessories.
A fleece neck gaiter is an easy sewing project and a good way to help people who need to keep their necks warm, but have an aversion to scarves.
For cancer patients, fleece is also a material that won't chafe or scratch their already sensitive skin.
Fleece is also a very budget-friendly material because you can easily find large enough pieces for a neck gaiter in the remnants section of big box stores like JoAnn's.
Dry skin is a possible side effect of chemotherapy so these travel-sized tubes of lotion are a great addition to any care package.
If you choose to include lotion, it's important that it's unscented in case the person has a bad reaction to fragrances.
A chemo port pillow is a small, rectangular pillow that a person can attach to a seat belt or bag strap to place over the port so that it doesn't get irritated.
Port pillows are a great scrap buster too.
Not to mention, they're SO easy to make that you can sew batches of them in less than an hour if you daisy chain the sewing.
Dry mouth and sores may also result from the cancer treatment so having a mouth rinse on hand is a useful gift.
While I don't know anyone personally who has used this brand, it comes highly recommended on Amazon.
Not everyone going through chemotherapy can handle fragrances, but for those who can, an essential oil diffuser bracelet is a unique gift.
Grab some hemp cord and a lava rock bead then start your square knots!
If a cancer patient has a port to receive chemotherapy, a port shirt affords better accessibility.
The port shirt opens up in a way that the port is exposed, but the rest of the person's torso and chest are not.
Lip balm is an easy addition to a chemo care bag and will be extremely useful to someone whose lips are constantly dry because of their treatment.
While brands like Chapstick are the norm, please also consider a cylindrical container with a large top or the
EOS lip balm in a dome-like shape.
Since people may have different sensations in their hands, grip strength may also be effected so the larger top is easier to use.
A lip balm holder keychain makes it easy to carry lip balm with you at all times.
You don't have to go searching in a bag or purse since you can easily attach the fabric lip balm holder to almost anything.
This easy DIY project is something people can use any time of year.
This lip balm holder is a thoughtful gift for anyone going through chemotherapy or any other treatment that impacts their skin. You can also widen this pattern ever so slightly to use it for a little bottle of hand sanitizer.
Listening to music is a great stress reliever throughout cancer treatment and it's always nice to have extra pairs of headphones.
If you think in-ear earbuds won't work well for the recipient, you could include this
earphone headband instead.
This clear toiletry bag for women takes around 10 minutes to make and can be customized with different patterned ribbon.
This toiletry bag tutorial walks you through how to make a bag that measures 8" x 8" but you can easily change the dimensions to fit the zippers you have in your stash.
For shelters and other nonprofit organizations that distribute hygiene kits, this clear toiletry bag is a great project to make and donate.
Some people continue to need infusions that require a port even when they're allowed to start exercising again.
This mini port pillow therefore allows people who wear sports bras to be more comfortable while on the move.
Handmade cards are always appreciated so, if you can, include at least one card in your care package.
Since live flowers may not be a good gift during chemotherapy (that fragrance thing again) a card with flowers on it is the next best thing.
Along with puzzle books, coloring is another way to relax the mind and reduce stress.
So here are eight different pages with intricate designs and motivational sayings that are great to add to your care bag.
If you want to include coloring pages in your care bag, throw in some coloring pencils too to complete the gift.
Chemotherapy treatments may be long and it's hard to regulate your body temperature while receiving an infusion. Warm socks are always an easy option.
A fleece blanket, however, is a little more versatile and therefore a great addition to a chemo care bag just in case the chills take over.
Hot tea is a soothing option when someone is uncomfortable and is easy to stomach during treatment so you fill this duct tape tea wallet with the person's favorite herbal teas.
The tea wallet is a beginner project and a lot of fun to make and decorate.
If you don't already have a bag in mind, you can purchase some of these blank canvas bag and customize them with fabric pens or heat transfer vinyl.
Hydration becomes even more important when someone is going through chemotherapy so consider including a water bottle in your chemo care bag.
Want to make it even more special? Customize it with a sassy saying or an inspirational mantra.
Cancer Care Packages Are The Perfect Service Project
Pulling together a chemo care package is so straightforward that I want to plant the seed that making these in batches is perfect as a service project for people of all ages.
For example, if there are people in the group who love to shop, they can buy the supplies. If others love to craft handmade cards, there is a need for that too.
And if a group of people want to volunteer and catch up with friends, they can easily do that while filling bags.
So if you are part of a group that does these types of projects, please consider reaching out to your local cancer center to see if they are in need of chemo care bags and donate if you can.
Every Bag Makes A Difference
The beauty of this gift idea is that there is no “perfect” chemo care package.
You can easily pick and choose items to customize it for a recipient’s cancer treatment, but you can also put together something generic if need be.
The above list is by no means exhaustive, but it does contain the key things that people like most in a chemo care package.
And even if the care package only has a handful of things, it will be appreciated by the recipient because each of the items serves a purpose in comfort and recovery.