Let’s talk about gifts for cancer patients

Once I publicly announced that I had breast cancer, the gifts started rolling in. They were so incredibly thoughtful and generous. Friends I had not seen or talked to in literally years were reaching out and we felt so much support and love. I am asked quite often of ideas and suggestions for gifts and I have actually dedicated an entire page on my blog to this here. The biggest suggestion I always have is to try to be as personal as you can. Think about the things they like, their personality and what would truly be helpful to their situation. In addition, it is perfectly ok to ASK them what they need!

Some of the side effects of chemo include smell aversions, metallic taste, sores in mouth, itchy skin, very reactive skin, headaches and of course…nausea. Keep that in mind before getting something that has a strong aroma or filling their house with flowers.

Here are the top 5 gifts for cancer patients that I recommend:

1.) Soft blanket. Full stop! My skin was terribly itchy and sensitive when going through chemo and I was always cold. I received some beautiful soft blankets and I brought them with me to treatment, wrapped myself up and I still have them today. I would personally steer clear from anything that has cancer ribbons on it. Some days, you just want to get away from the cancer and the ribbons are a constant reminder. Barefoot Dreams are my favorite and usually my go-to gift. Truly a wonderful gift.

2.) Gift cards for food delivery services or just a regular old Visa gift card. A gift card can be a lifesaver, especially for those with children. We kept some around for anyone that was helping out with the twins after my treatments and urged them to use them for whatever they needed. The caregivers also are going through a lot and having the ability to order what they really need/want to eat is a really nice treat. It is also helpful to use for parking expenses at the hospital, gas, house cleaning, etc… YOu cannot go wrong with a gift card and do NOT worry about this being too impersonal. It is a truly valued gift.

3.) Soft button front pajamas. I cannot stress how much I appreciated these. Everyone loves to have some new p.j’s and this made me feel so cozy and comfortable, even when I felt my worst. The buttons in the front is key. Most women will have a port for chemo and drains post mastectomy. The buttons make things so much easier. Keep an eye on the fabric. I could not even fathom wearing anything that was remotely itchy, so opt for a really soft fabric choice or a gift for them to pick their favorite! Another pajama-ish idea for someone who has had a mastectomy would be a recovery bra that is soft and made specifically for post-surgery. Everviolet makes some beautiful options or gift cards and I WISH I would have had these when I was in recovery. This would be so appreciated and thoughtful.

4.) Gift basket. There are some amazing companies that have curated baskets that can be sent directly to your loved ones. Check out Etsy for cancer treatment baskets and there are so many to choose from. You could also assemble your own gift basket with some of the items I listed on my favorite things page and pair it with a personal note. One GREAT idea I witnessed was someone had 6 rounds of treatment and their friend wrapped up 6 small gifts to open at every chemo (pair of socks, crossword puzzle, etc…) Just be creative and shop from the heart.

5.) A simple note. I KNOW this sounds really easy, but the notes I received were so incredibly helpful. I had several friends who wrote me a handwritten note every single week! Some were funny cards and some were inspirational, but the thought behind the words meant everything to me. Just let your loved ones know that you are thinking of them, you are there for them and if there is anything at all that you can do. You can take it a step further and offer babysitting, rides to treatment or to bring dinner. The key is to make it personal, speak from your heart and let them know you are fighting alongside them. I would keep these notes in a folder and literally looked at them when I was feeling low. Words are powerful things!

So many people stress over finding the perfect gift or worrying if it is “enough,” but trust me…just the thought is enough. The words alone are enough. Do not be afraid to ask their caregiver or ask them directly. It is very simple to say “I want to help. What do you need? Do you have a warm blanket for chemo?” Just think from your heart and the gift will be perfect.

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