Packing a hospital bag for cancer-related stays

The optimist in all of us tells us we’re not going to end up in hospital after a dose of chemotherapy but the chances of it happening at least once over the course of treatment are pretty high. I ended up in hospital after half of my chemo treatments and learnt that having a bag packed ready was a good idea – an idea I didn’t have at the time!

Each time I rocked up at the hospital I went without a bag – you’d have thought I’d have learnt after the first and second times but no, not me. And that’s just it – during treatment your brain isn’t functioning at 100% so I though you might find in useful to learn from my mistake…

My advice would be to have a hospital bag packed and ready to go before you go in for your first chemo treatment. Pack it the day before treatment, when you’re at your healthiest and leave it in a safe place but out of the way – the spare room or your wardrobe perhaps. You’ll need to add your medication but it’s best to do that when you know you’re going into hospital.

Relatives can always pack a bag for you but often things get forgotten and there’s nothing like being prepared.What should you pack? Here’s my essential list:

  • Toiletries like your tooth brush, tooth paste, deodorant and sanitary towels (I’d suggest packing these even if your periods have stopped/been suppressed)
  • A nice soft towel – the hospital provide towels but you’ll get comfort in your own
  • Flip flops for the shower – in my opinion these are an absolute must
  • 2/3 pairs of comfy pjs and a week’s worth of knickers
  • A dressing gown – I found this useful at night when I was cold but also when the porters take you for scans and x-Rays at the other end of the hospital
  • Slippers and bed socks are a must. Take a couple of pairs of bed socks
  • A couple of comfy hats/scarves/caps – whatever you prefer wearing. Even if you have your hair, I’d suggest packing a couple if you’ve been told you’re going to lose it
  • Easy reading magazines and easy read books. I didn’t really want to read but having magazines to flick through kept me entertained
  • Jacobs dry crackers or something similar – it’s handy to have some food at hand for when you’re able to eat but not able to face the hospital food. Something very basic like dry crackers is best for your tum

Things to ask friends and family to bring:

  • Lemon and salt (sorry, no tequila here). It’s really good to add lemon and salt to water if you’ve had diarrhoea
  • Magazines and more magazines

What not to bring:

  • Treats like sweets and biscuits are likely to be off the list. Even if your taste buds insist on sugar, the doctors may well warn you against it as it can unsettle your vulnerable stomach

What did you pack that was really useful? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll  add it to the list. Thanks, Becky xx