Important Tips for Packing Your Chemo Tote Bag

Packing Your Chemo Tote Bag

There are many uncertainties when it comes to chemotherapy treatment for cancer. It’s impossible to know how long your treatment will take, anticipated wait time for labs and chemo, and how warm or cold the treatment room will be. We all know chemo isn’t fun, but if you can think ahead and pack your chemotherapy tote bag with things that will make you feel more comfortable, then treatment will be easier for you. And every little bit helps!

What to Bring to Chemo

We’ve compiled a list of things that our own survivors as well as former cancer patients and health care professionals believe are must-haves to include in the chemo tote bag you bring to every treatment appointment. So grab your favorite tote bag and let’s get packing!

Comfortable Clothing

Wear a short sleeve or V-neck shirt to make it easier for the treatment technician to put an IV in your arm or a port in your chest. Bring a sweater or sweatshirt that you can take off or put back on quickly in case you get cold during treatment.

Comfy Socks

Former MD Anderson Cancer Center patient and survivor, Stephanie Madsen, urges chemotherapy patients to wear closed-toe shoes and to make sure that they pack some comfy socks to wear when their feet get cold. For her, the softer and fuzzier the socks or footies were, the more she liked them. We concur!

Hat, Scarf, or Beanie

If your chemo drugs cause you to lose your hair, keeping your head warm is key! Protecting your head from weather changes while keeping it warm in an air-conditioned treatment facility will help you feel more comfortable while you’re there. A hat, scarf or head turban can also be a colorful fashion accessory to cheer you up when you’re not feeling particularly cheerful.

Pillow or Blanket

A pillow and blanket will come in handy if you want to sleep during your treatment. The chemo room is usually temperature controlled and having your own blanket will allow you to stay warm when necessary, while making you feel more comfortable in an otherwise uncomfortable place.

Fluids – Especially Water

Some patients get headaches during treatment. If you’re dehydrated, the intensity of your headache will likely be magnified. Drinking water or juice will keep you hydrated. It’s also a good way to flush the residual chemotherapy toxins out of your bloodstream faster.


Pack a variety of your favorite snacks. You may get hungry during treatment – especially if you travel a long way or have to spend a lot of time having or waiting for treatment. By bringing the things you know you like to eat, you won’t have to stop to get food or rely on the hospital or treatment center food.

Skin Care

Bring some personal care and oral hygiene products. Chemotherapy is notorious for causing a dry mouth or leaving a metallic taste in your mouth. A toothbrush and toothpaste or a small bottle of alcohol-free mouthwash may be helpful for chasing a bad taste away. You can purchase gels, oral sprays and Soothease™ Natural Chemo Drops to minimize the discomfort of a dry mouth. Body lotion can soothe irritated skin. Look for products that are recommended for sensitive skin or products for cancer patients. If smells bother you, stay with unscented products.

Nausea Combatants

Pack a supply of things to combat nausea and queasiness. Crystallized ginger is an excellent remedy for nausea. Likewise, so are Queasy Drops and Pops. You may want to suck on mints or chew gum. Look for products that contain Xylitol because it is also found in products to combat dry mouth.


Pack a selection of things to entertain yourself and make the time go by faster. Bring along a tablet or laptop so you don’t drain the battery on your phone too quickly, and be sure to bring the charger. If you have a tablet that you use as an e-reader, or to watch movies or listen to music, bring that. You’ll get a lot of entertainment out of that one device. Throw in some popular magazines or some other light reading. You might also bring games to play with the person who accompanies you. Scrabble, Words with Friends, and crossword puzzles are great choices because the brain stimulation will help you combat the effects of chemo brain.


Pack a large multiple file organizer where you can keep your medication lists, insurance information, medical records, test results and other important documents for easy access. You’ll be grateful that you can grab the file and go.

Pack Your Chemo Tote Bag

If you haven’t received a chemotherapy tote bag as a gift, there’s no reason you can’t buy one for yourself. Our own Chemotherapy Gift Tote will jump start your preparations, so you arrive at your chemo treatment appointments with supplies to keep you comfortable, well-nourished and entertained.

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21 comments on “Important Tips for Packing Your Chemo Tote Bag
  1. Since I’d been told my chemo treatment would last 5 to 6 hours, I followed tips for packing a chemo bag. I took out my largest tote bag (really a gym bag) to accommodate a blanket, warm socks, a book to read, a journal, MP3 player, magazines, snacks, and lunch. The bag weighed a ton, and guess what? I didn’t need anything other than a book, a journal, MP3 player, and a couple of snacks. Perhaps as my treatment progresses, I’ll find I need some of the other items, but for now I take a small, very manageable bag, with just a few items. But I hasten to add that I appreciate your updates very much. I find them to be very caring and informative, and look forward to garnering much useful information from them as I continue on my chemo journey. Thank you for being there.

  2. Linda Green says:

    This is my first day so any information is helpful. I have a bag packed but if it’s anything like vacation, I packed too much.. we’ll see. I have to be there between 5 & 6 hours for my first treatment.

  3. Denise says:

    My chemo treatment start tomorrow and this is so helpful. I was taking a small bag but didn’t know what to pack. Thank you thank you for this information.

  4. Cyndi says:

    My chemo starts tomorrow for 5 hours. I filled the chemo bag to the gills.I know I packed to much so I’m making this a mini vacation. Have to think positive! Be creative…
    Remember, You can do it, if you will!


  5. sarah says:

    I start chemo on 09-11-18. This information is very helpful and find some comfort knowing i will be better prepared for yhe unknown. Thank you

  6. I go in the 18 to get the port put in my chest.this site is so helpful

  7. Chauntae says:

    Hi everybody. I’m port ready and go for infusion #1 on 10/3/18. I’ve heard it’s easy to over pack but considering…do what you need to! I know this will be a long session since it’s my first. Monitoring our progress is a good thing to say the least. Praying for EVERYONE of you. Godspeed.

  8. Such information is very helpful for every chemo patient.

    Stay bless and keep yourself strong.

  9. Christine says:

    I start treatment next week and get my abdominal port put in as I will be receiving IV and IP chemo. This site is very helpful. Thank you!

  10. Robert nat says:

    Inspiration: Chemo can be tough, but staying positive can make a big difference. Write motivational sayings on index cards or in your journal. Look at these quotes or verses when you’re feeling blue. Remind yourself of the hope you have for your future. Sometimes all you need is a simple “You can do this.” Because you can.

  11. Thank you very much for this info. I was unsure what to pack but after reading this I am ready for the big day tomorrow.

  12. Patty says:

    My first chemo starts this week. I have a rolling tote bag (got it at Bealls Outlet) so that if it’s heavy I can just wheel it and not have to carry it. Blanket, sox, reading material, snacks, Queasy Drops, water, phone/Kindle/MP3 player and headphones, coloring book, journal, crosswords, prayer book and rosary, hand lotion, chapstick, Biotene dry mouth spray….I think I’m set!

    • Janet says:

      Wishing you all the best Patty! Hope you had everything you needed and that your first treatment went well. My first treatment is coming up on Tuesday the 15th.

  13. Dawn says:

    Very helpful information, I got my port today and will have my first Chemo treatment this Friday. Guess I need to start packing! Thank you all so much

  14. Sandy J says:

    Thank you! I stay chemo tomorrow and as positive as I’m trying to remain, I can’t say the ‘unknown’ isn’t racking my nerves. Thank you for helping me not pack a complete vacation bag! LOL

  15. Patty says:

    I get my port on Monday and start chemo on Thursday. I appreciate all the information listed. Keep positive everyone!

  16. Sandra says:

    My first chemo infusion starts tomorrow and I’m so glad I googled “what to take to chemo” or else I wouldn’t have taken enough stuff. I will offer to keep a positive mindset, gather a supportive praying team, pray for yourself daily, stay active, continue to do the things you love to do as much and often as possible 🙂

  17. Tara says:

    All of the comments are helpful. I habe my port, and I will start chemo on Thursday. I have a cozy blanket and comfy socks. I need to go shopping for the rest. Thanks!

  18. Carrilu says:

    This website is very helpful. After many delays starting my chemo treatments, I am hopeful tomorrow is the day. Im ready to kick this cancer in the butt!

  19. Kelly says:

    I begin my chemo in just a few hours, and a very good friend of mine starts next week. Thank you for providing me with info to help us both.

  20. I will get my port on Tuesday and start chemo the next day . Thank you all for the tips . I think I have everything except snacks. I think it’s time to start packing. Let’s keep up the faith.

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