What to take to chemotherapy

Posted by Sara Liyanage on 05 February 2023


It’s worth having a bag of everything you need to take to the hospital for each round of chemotherapy, which is always packed and ready. Here are our suggestions, based on our experience as patients. We also have a printable, downloadable PDF of chemotherapy preparation advice, here.

1. Snacks You might be in hospital for a while so it’s good to be prepared with snacks.

2. Herbal tea bags You’ll probably be provided with tea, coffee and water. But, if you don’t want the tea and coffee that the hospital provides you could take flask of your preferred hot drink.

3. Warm socks or slippers If you’re sitting around for a long time, you can get a bit chilly. It’s worth also taking a shawl or blanket because you may find that you are sometimes cold when you have chemo. Wearing layers can work well because you might find that you alternate between warm and cold. And wear something that gives easy access to your PICC line/port/central line/cannula.

4. Water bottle or alternative drinks. Your tastes can change while on chemo and sometimes water can taste unpleasant in which case squash/cordial can be diluted in water for a nicer taste.

5. Hard boiled sweets because sometimes the chemo can leave a bad taste or metallic taste in your mouth.

6. Lipbalm and handcream because your skin and lips can get really dry. If you take one which smells nice then it will be a distraction from all the medical smell of the hospital.

7. Notebook and pen because you might like to jot down notes and if you have any questions you can make a note of the answers, and a note of any instructions from the nurses (with chemo brain it’s easy to forgot everything by the time you get home).

8. Hospital chemotherapy book You’ll probably be given a hospital book in which to record your appointments – make sure you take this to every appointment.

9. Antibacterial hand gel

11. Something to do like a magazine, book, crossword or puzzle book or a mindfulness colouring book and pencils. An iPad/tablet/laptop with downloaded films and earphones can also be a welcome to distraction.

12.  Possibly something for lunch depending on how long you will be in hospital and whether or not you will be provided with lunch – check with the chemo nurses before you go for your first round of chemo. and actually what’s the harm in taking a sandwich just in case you are delayed. You don’t want to go hungry on today of all days.

13. If you are planning to do the cold cap then you may need to take conditioner and a comb if the hospital doesn’t provide them, plus a warm scarf/shawl. Check with the chemo nurses what you need to take.

Further information

For a downloadable and printable version of this checklist, see here.

Future Dreams hold a range of support groups, classes, workshops and events to help you and your carers during your breast cancer diagnosis. These are held both online and in person at the London-based Future Dreams House. To see what’s on offer and to book your place, see here.

To return to the homepage of our Information Hub, click here where you can access more helpful information, practical advice, personal stories and more.

Reviewed February 2023

The information and content provided on this page has been written from a patient’s perspective then reviewed by a breast care nurse and it is intended for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your medical team for advice on anything covered in this article and/or in relation to your personal situation. The links and/or recommendations in this article to third-party resources are for your information and we take no responsibility for the content contained in those third-party resources. Any product recommendations made in this article are not product endorsements and unless otherwise stated, they are made without any affiliation to the brand of that product. We ask you to note that there may be other similar products available.


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