Perfect Gifts for a Cancer Patient

When a holiday sweater just is not enough

The holiday season is a time of giving and receiving.  But what do you give to the cancer patient to show you truly care?  Here are some ideas to find the perfect gift that suits her needs.

Comfort is Key


When undergoing cancer treatment, comfort is key!  Invest in the softest and coziest of socks, slippers, pajamas, or robe.  Sheepskin and chenille items are comfortable and popular. Or, perhaps a warm and luxurious shawl or fleece blanket is the perfect way to wrap her in love and comfort.  The fuzzier, the better!

Stress Relief


Super soft aromatherapy pillows, eye masks, or teddy bears can offer a great deal of stress relief for the patient who is undergoing surgery or dealing with body aches and pains.  The microbeads and natural oils within these products enhance psychological and physical well-being.

Keep 'em Entertained


Activity levels will wane during active cancer treatment.  Consider giving her uplifting books, movies, and music that will brighten her day in the comfort of her home. 

While an engrossing thriller, mystery, biography, or comedy might be just the ticket, at times a topic-specific may be what she really needs.  Cancer-related best sellers include:

  • "5 Lessons I Didn't Learn from Breast Cancer" by Shelley Lewis
  • "It's Not About the Hair: And Other Certainties of Life and Cancer" by Debra Jarvis
  • “Chicken Soup for the Breast Cancer Survivor's Soul: Stories to Inspire, Support and Heal” by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Mary Olsen Kelly
  • “The Breast Cancer Survival Manual, Fifth Edition: A Step-by-Step Guide for Women with Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer” by John Link
  • “Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy” by Geralyn Lucas

Warmth and Style


Hair thinning or total hair loss is common during cancer treatment and is especially troublesome as the weather turns cold!  Colorful hats and scarves may be just what she needs to put some spring back into her step.  Pretty bandanas can also keep her covered up in style.

Food for the Soul


When you don’t know what else to give, gift certificates to a favorite restaurant and movie theatre can be fun.  Be sure, however, to find a restaurant with a wide menu selection as taste buds often change during cancer treatment and “old favorites” can be subject to new allergies and sensitivities. Add to the gift certificate a selection of yummy teas and you’ll be sure to please!

Pamper Her


Pampering the cancer patient is a trickier prospect.  A gift certificate for a massage may sound like a good idea at first but, in reality, may be unbearable due to lymphedema, surgeries, or pain points.  Also take care with soaps, lotions, and spa gift sets - even the most organic products may contain scents or irritants that sadly she may not be able to tolerate right now.  If this is a gift that you truly want to give, here are 4 tips to make it work:

  • Call around.  Ask boutiques and salons if they carry specialty products designed for cancer patients. 
  • Try products like moisturizing gloves that cannot contain harmful ingredients. 
  • Give gift certificates.  That way she can pick out what she really needs.
  • Make sure the gift is fully refundable so that you can re-invest in one of the other 9 ideas listed here.

Dazzle Her with *Bling*


Whether sick or well, jewelry is almost always a girl’s best friend.  Many stores, in person and online, sell Breast Cancer Awareness bracelets or necklaces with the proceeds going to cancer research.  If pink is not her style, try a simple charm of “Hope”, “Joy”, “Courage”, or “Love”.

Personalize It


Many times the best gift is not material at all.  Design and print a homemade coupon for “one day of housecleaning on me”, or “a night-in, menu ala [YOUR NAME]”, or “grocery shopping for a week”.  Personalized gift certificates are endearing and always come in handy when the patient isn’t feeling 100% herself.

Every Dollar Counts


Invest in cancer research in her honor.  Nearly all cancer research organizations, hospitals, and societies maintain charitable programs that allow you to make one-time gifts, monthly gifts, and legacy giving. Year-end financial reports will list the areas of research in which each institute invests and the percentage of each dollar directed to administrative costs (i.e., F&A).  Reap the tax benefits as well! 

Do It Yourself


Make your own gift basket with a lot of little things that she may really need during and after treatment.  Include: magazines to make her laugh, journals to record her thoughts, organic lip balms and aloe to soothe chapped skin, a squishy stress ball to squeeze away the worries of the day, cozy socks, aromatic candles, plus crackers, tea, and/or a favorite food.

And don't forget...

Phone calls and greeting cards are always welcome gifts too! If visiting, remember to call ahead, ask permission, and be sensitive to her need to occasionally say no when it necessitates. Happy Shopping!

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