In order to compile the most thoughtful and useful gifts for loved ones with cancer, I spoke to a number of friends and family members who have gone through, or are going through cancer treatments.
If someone we care about gets a cancer diagnoses, they may be facing surgery or treatments such as chemotherapy and/or radiation. It is important to support and comfort them with something that aligns with their needs both physically and emotionally. If you are finding yourself in new territory, figuring out the right words to say and ways in which to help, can be a challenging.
By selecting items that prioritise comfort, support and inspiration, you can show your loved one they are not alone in their journey as they navigate through this uncertain time in their life. Remember, the most important aspect of any gift is the love, care and thought behind it.
The Practical Gifts For Cancer Patients
- Acknowledgement & Presence: Simply acknowledging their illness and being there to listen, talk or sit with them is a gift in itself. Don’t ghost them, don’t let their illness be too awkward for you. They are still the same person inside, their life situation might have changed, but there is no reason why you can’t be there alongside them. You don’t always have to understand. Find things to laugh at. Cancer might take a lot but it can’t touch ones sense of humour. After all don't they say that laughter is the best medicine!
- Transportation & Time : Are you in a position to offer transport to appointments? Have you time to sit with them during chemotherapy treatment? If so, this can be an immense comfort and show of support. If there are kids in the family, check if they have regular out of school activities that you could organise lifts for. Asking family members can sometimes be a better approach. This can also take a lot of pressure of a spouse, who will also be in need of support.
- Practical Assistance: Stepping in to do housework like cleaning, ironing and grocery shopping will also help take the pressure off. Stocking up on homecooked meals in the freezer might be another welcoming deed you could look into.
The Physical Gifts
When giving a gift take into account that cancer treatment takes its toll on both the physical and emotional wellbeing of the mind and the body. Giving something that your loved one can actually use and that will be beneficial to their recovery is key. You may even be introducing them to a product they had not already discovered.
We have put together a list of items that cancer patients have found useful:
- Natural skincare products: Because skin can become highly sensitive while on chemotherapy or radiation, it is very important that skincare products do not contain any toxins such as parabens, sulphates and alcohol. Organic is always best if possible. This goes for soaps, oils, creams and deodorants.
- Lip Balms: I'm told you can never have enough lip balm when going through cancer treatment! As with the skincare above, it is very important to use a natural one.
- Cosy Socks: Chemotherapy and radiotherapy can mean sitting around for hours at a time and many patients like to get comfortable for the duration. Some chemo's cause severe sensitivity to cold and having a really good thermal sock will be of huge benefit. We highly recommend investing in a good thermal slipper sock and definitely one with grips as hospital and clinic floors can be slippery.
- Blankets: A blanket is a gift that will always be well received. They have so many uses and are frequently part of the lists of the must haves for cancer treatment. Make sure it is soft, so as not to irritate sensitive skin and investing in a thermal blanket will be very beneficial to anyone suffering from cold dysesthesia. See our blog here for information on this side effect of chemotherapy.
Nausea Relief Aids: This will vary from person to person. What some find life altering, may not have any effect on others. Patients will tell you that they will try everything recommended to relieve nausea as it can be so debilitating. Ginger is widely used as is peppermint. We added a few wellness teas and nausea drops to our website which might help give you ideas of what to look for.
- Books: Although phones and tablets are used extensively used in today’s world, it is good to have an alternative. Switching to an actual book or magazine gives our eyes a break. It also lowers the chance of developing headaches from screen eyestrain. A book promoting mindfulness, magazines, wordsearch, crosswords and mindful colouring book are gifts that will help pass the time. The are also convienient to pop in a bag.
- Notebooks: A notebook is a must have tool in everyone’s bag. There will be so much new information to take in. So many questions to ask. Instructions on medication and the many reminders. A notebook can also be a good way of journaling thoughts and feelings. Keeping a track on moods. Documentation goals and targets and of course for those of us who find it therapeutic, doodling.
- Aromatherapy: Essential oils are an invaluable selfcare tool for cancer patients. They are known to balance the mind and help promote stillness. Keeping focused and calm plays an important part in recovery. Aromatherapy products can come in the form of candles, diffusers, room/pillow mists, roller oils and therapy dough.
- Comfort & Seatbelt cushions: If your loved one has had surgery, we highly recommend seeking out comfort cushions. They have many uses from protecting sensitive areas to assisting with sleep. Seatbelt cushions are a fabulous way of keeping a wound area free from the pressure of a harsh seatbelt without compromising safety. These are items which are often overlooked but cherished by patients.
- Reusable Water Bottle: It is crucial to stay hydrated during chemotherapy. Having a bottle of water to hand is very important. Using a reusable is a great way of remembering to keep it topped up.
Thank you to all the wonderful people who helped me out with gathering this information on the best most thoughtful & useful gifts for loved ones with cancer. You know who you are! We acknowledge how important it is to find information like this out from those who matter most. Please do not hesitate to get in contact with us if you need further information on any of the above.