16 Ideas for a Chemo Care Package

Are you looking for chemo care package ideas for a close friend or family member going through chemotherapy treatments? A cancer diagnosis is such an overwhelming feeling, and the support of friends and family is super important during this difficult time.

During the chemo journey, cancer patients are often experiencing all sorts of physical, emotional, and mental side effects. Creating chemotherapy care packages is a great way to provide support to loved ones.

After my own breast cancer diagnosis, a dear friend of mine put together a cancer care package prior to my first chemo treatment. This was such a great gift because it was full of helpful items in the form of a chemo care kit.

In this post, I will detail the perfect chemo care package ideas for a gift basket for chemo patients. These products are really useful for those dealing with the common side effects of chemotherapy cancer treatment!

(This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Please see my disclosure policy at the bottom of this page for more details.)

Chemo Gift Basket Ideas

I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 36, shortly after having my second child. After undergoing a double mastectomy, my medical oncologist recommended really aggressive chemotherapy for further treatment. I ended up receiving chemotherapy for six months total, including 4 rounds of AC chemo followed by 12 weeks of Taxol

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Since each chemo session took about 3-4 hours, I spent quite a lot of time in the infusion center. The items in the thoughtful gift set I had received turned out to be so helpful in getting me through these long days in the treatment center.

Below, I’m including the list of items that proved to be the best gift ideas during the journey through chemo:

1. Hand Sanitizer

In today’s climate it’s an important thing regularly travel with hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes. As mentioned in this article from Northwestern Medicine, chemotherapy patients have a compromised immune system. This means they have to be extra careful around other people and germs.

hand sanitizer

I went through treatment during flu season, which added a whole other layer of stress onto my chemotherapy. I recommend wiping down the chemo chair and tables prior to beginning each treatment.

The infusion center can be really busy with patients, and the nurses may not always have the time to do a completely thorough job. Therefore, sanitizing everything is not a bad idea.

2. Chemo Tote Bag

I carried a large tote bag with me to the infusion center for each treatment. This bag allowed me to keep all of my chemo must haves in an organized space. You can easily store the tote bag at home, so you don’t have to unpack/repack your purse each week for chemo. 

3. Lotion

Chemo can cause your skin to become really sensitive and extremely dry. I ended up getting skin rashes and eczema as side effects to treatment. Plus, the increased use of sanitizer and wipes can irritate the skin even more. So, moisturizing lotion would be an easy item to add to a chemo care package. I recommend getting one that is fragrance free and made for sensitive skin.

4. Lip Balm

As mentioned above, chemo can cause dry skin. This includes your lips. I always kept lip balm with me in my chemo bag to help soothe and moisturize. I would try to stick to an all-natural brand like Burt’s Bees Wax since chemicals and fragrances can really irritate the skin during chemo.

5. Water Bottle

One of the major things nurses and doctors recommend during chemo is drinking LOTS of water. This really helps with preventing and managing side effects. I carried a reusable water bottle with me to each chemo session. The infusion center should have plenty of disposable cups and ice machines for your use. If you run out of ice or water, you can easily re-fill your personal water bottle there. This is the water bottle I liked because I tend to drink more when I have a straw for some reason. (Amazon Affiliate Link)

6. Tissues

The infusion center usually placed a box of tissues on the table beside my chemo chair. Since I am a bit of a germaphobe, I preferred having my own packet in my chemo bag. The Kleenex brand tissues I brought were much softer than the ones the hospital provided. Chemo can cause a runny nose and even nose bleeds, so I always used tissues during treatment.

7. Seatbelt Pillow

This is a really helpful gift for someone who has a port. My chemo port sits on my chest in a spot where the seatbelt constantly rubs against it. I found myself folding up a t-shirt to place over my port while in the car because it got so uncomfortable. A seatbelt pillow provides a cushion over the chemo port area, so you aren’t distracted by the irritating feeling of the seatbelt rubbing. This seatbelt pillow is probably my favorite item on this entire list! (Amazon Affiliate Link)

8. Snacks

Chemo can really affect your appetite, so I was picky about what snacks I would eat. Throughout my six months of chemotherapy treatment, I tended to lean toward bland foods and lots of cheese.

bowls of snacks on wooden planks

A variety of snack foods would be a great addition to a chemo care package. I would just try to stay away from anything too spicy or flavorful to help eliminate mouth sores and nausea.

My go-to snack during treatment was White Cheddar Cheetos. They had enough flavor to satisfy my taste buds, but they weren’t overly seasoned to irritate my stomach. I carried a bag full of these to each chemo session and ate them all throughout treatment.

9. Warm Socks

Gifting cancer survivors with warm socks is a great option since patients tend to get quite chilly during chemo infusions. I recommend purchasing socks with grips on the bottoms of them. This way, the patient doesn’t slip on the floor at the infusion center while heading to the restroom or snack station.

10. Good Book

As I mentioned above, chemo sessions can last a long time. A lot of patients sleep during treatment, but I was never able to relax enough. Instead, I relied on reading an inspirational book to help pass the time. For a care package, you could also toss in a few magazines or even a gift card to a bookstore. 

11. $1 Bills

I know this is really random, and it may not be needed at every hospital. However, I carried $1 bills to treatment to tip the valet. My hospital offered free valet parking for cancer patients. The young valet attendant at my hospital was super friendly and hard working.

I liked to give him a few dollars each time he brought my vehicle back. My husband and I kept a stash of one dollar bills in my vehicle’s console, so we could easily grab a few dollars to tip the valet each week

12. Soft Blanket

As mentioned above, the infusion center often provides warm blankets and pillows for patients. If your loved one prefers to carry their own blanket to chemo treatments, I recommend the ones with arm openings. This way, the patient’s hands are free to use the television remote, phone, book, etc.

13. Dining Giftcards

Like I mentioned above, chemo usually affects your appetite. I found the feeling to be very similar to the experience of pregnancy and “morning” sickness. With chemo, I had a hard time planning meals because I often started craving something random at dinner time. 

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My husband and I were very appreciative for gift cards during this time, particularly for food delivery services. The last thing anyone wants to do after a four-hour chemo session is cook dinner and clean dishes!

14. Neck Pillow

The chemo center should be able to offer patients things like warm blankets and a pillow. However, some prefer to bring their own neck pillow with them to infusions. This allows you to sit comfortably in the chemo chair while still giving your neck a bit of comfort.

15. Mouth Rinse

While going through the treatment process, I often experienced dry mouth and even some mouth sores. This Biotene Mouthwash was a really good gift because I could use it at home at the end of the day (Amazon Affiliate Link).

16. Handwritten Note

If you are creating a care package for a loved one, a handwritten note is always a thoughtful gift to include. While I was going through cancer treatment, my husband created a book full of handwritten notes and warm wishes from friends and family. I kept this with me during each chemo session so that I could reflect on it for inspiration.

Final Thoughts on Chemo Care Package Ideas

The chemo care package ideas listed above are all helpful gifts for someone battling a cancer diagnosis. Creating a chemo care kit is the perfect gift because it’s a thoughtful way to provide personal care products and entertainment items to help pass the time.

The items in your gift box or basket can be small gifts, yet they still go a long way at showing your loved one that you are there for them!

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  1. Thank you so much for these wonderful care package items, Shari. We are putting a care package together for a friend of ours who has started chemo after her breast cancer surgery. Your ideas are wonderful! – Mary Pat

    1. Hi Mary Pat,

      I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. She’s lucky to have your support, and I’m sure she appreciates it even more than you know! Glad you found the information helpful, and I hope she has a speedy recovery from surgery and chemo.

  2. My husband just went through several months of chemotherapy. I would suggest comfortable clothes. Elastic waist pants and warm shirts. He was a blue jeans man but had lost a lot of weight and was always cold. It was summer and had shorts on for his first treatment. We
    Learned warmer clothing was what he needed.

    1. Hi Donna,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to share your tips. I completely agree that warm, comfortable clothing is a must! I hope your husband is doing well after completing chemo.

  3. I think it would get difficult to take showers and wash your hair. Another idea is dry shampoo caps that clean your hair without water and body wipes for when there is no energy to shower. I will use many of the other suggestions to add to this for my newly diagnosed sister.

    1. Hi Chris,

      I’m so sorry to hear about your sister’s diagnosis, but I am sure she is relieved to have support from family. Thanks so much for taking the time to add additional care package items to the list. The ones you mentioned would also be great for recovery after a mastectomy when it’s difficult to move. Thanks again and hope your sister experiences minimal side effects during treatment!

    1. Thanks so much Debra! It’s so hard to decide how to help sometimes, but all of the gifts listed above were super useful to me. I hope your loved one finds them helpful too!

  4. I am about to make up a care bag for my manager/friend who is newly diagnosed with breast cancer, since some of the items on your list would have to be shipped from the USA I will look for the UK equivalent, but your list has given me plenty of useful ideas to look for, thank you.

    1. Hi Joanna,

      Thank you for commenting. I’m so sorry to hear about your friend’s breast cancer diagnosis! It sounds like you plan to be a really supportive friend for her during treatment, so she is lucky to have you! Hopefully you will be able to find similar items to the ones in my list in the UK. I wish you and your friend all the best!

  5. One thing I am absolutely loving is a set of headphones built into a headband. I can use it to listen to meditation tapes or podcasts comfortably when I’m awake with insomnia and they are so comfy to sleep in rather than ear buds. I just got cheap ones from Amazon and I use them after each chemo when I’m wired to the moon on steroids. Definitely one of my chemo best buys!

    1. Hey Brid,

      Thank you so much for sharing! I never thought of using headphones built into a headband, but that sounds like such a useful thing to have during chemo. I wish you all the best in your recovery! Thanks again for sharing your unique chemo buy!

  6. Thank you for sharing this list. My dear neighbor is battling cancer and just had her first chemo treatment. I will be making her a bag of helpful items this week.

    1. Hey Stef,

      I’m so sorry to hear about your neighbor! That is so kind of you to make her a gift bag. I hope everything goes well for her during treatment. Thank you for sharing!

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