Thoughtful Gifts Go a Long Way
- There are many options for useful and heartfelt gifts to give loved ones who are in cancer treatmentand thought, rather than cost, is the most important quality of your gift.
- Keep your loved one’s needs, tastes, and circumstances in mind, and don’t be afraid to ask what’s needed.
- We asked survivors to share some of the thoughtful gifts they received, or what they wish they’d received, at various times in their cancer journey.
Bottom line, don't sweat thistrust that gifts from the heart will likewise be received with love. Think about the survivor you want to support, take their personality and particular needs into consideration (in fact, there’s no harm in asking them what they’d like), and know that your dedicated caring is the best gift of all.
Drinking water is extra important during chemobut with so much else going on, keeping it in mind can be hard to do. Some items to get your loved one on track:
- A Water Bottle to keep track of intake; one survivor recommended the Elvira 32 oz. Water Bottle with Motivational Time Marker & Removable Strainer
- Hydrant water additives have no artificial sweeteners.
- “Carbonated flavored waters were my lifesaver during chemo," as they make water more appealing, noted one survivor. Consider a gift of these drinks to keep on hand.
Help for Dry Mouth or Metallic Taste from Chemo
Unfortunately, these issues can be treatment side effects, making survivors more uncomfortable. To help your loved one glide past this problem (and with the added benefit of being delicious), try these suggestions. They may seem simple, but you can package them up nicely and get a variety of flavors:
- “Watermelon Jolly Ranchers worked for me.”
- “I loved a bouquet of colorful lollipops to combat any weird tastes.”
- “Having gum around was a big help.”
Beauty Products: Practical & Fun
Many survivors mentioned receiving and enjoying beauty products during chemo. Some going through it are comforted by products they’ve loved for years; others find that their skin or fingernails have changed during chemo and that new products are needed. Still others want to try something new to mark this "not the same" period of their lives. As with anything, you can ask loved ones in chemo what they might prefer along these lines. Consider:
- "A gift basket of really nice bubble baths, a loofa sponge, salts, and soaks" went over well with a survivor.
- "A gift card for a local makeup store was great. My skin changed so much during chemo, but with the medical bills, I had a hard time justifying buying new makeup or skin-care products. The gift was a saving grace. It kept me from feeling guilty or getting buyer’s remorse."
- “My friends found these nail strips to really help strengthen nails during chemo!"
Help with Necessities
Lots of survivors raved about gifts that allowed their lives to go more smoothly. These could be gift cards for groceries, gas, Uber/Lyft, or laundry; or for purchases at stores they regularly visit for household items. Some mentioned the generosity of friends who took matters into their own hands, coming over to clean their houses, deliver meals, or take their kids for play dateswithout the need to socialize if it wasn't a good time. Possibilities:
- “Doordash and Grubhub have been a lifesaver for me."
- “A friend ran a 'meal train' where friends cooked meals and dropped them off at her house. She brought me the meals when I needed them, as I didn’t have the energy to organize or see people." “My mom baked a ton of breakfast breadszucchini, pumpkin, cranberryand I sliced and froze them. Breakfasts were always hard during chemo because I had no appetite, and this got me to eat.”
- “Laundry service. Friends got us a gift card for a service that would pick up dirty laundry and return it cleaned and folded. Best gift ever."
For the Crafters
Crafts can be an enjoyable and non-taxing way to spend time during treatment. Even friends who don't have a lot of craft experience can enjoy focusing on something both simple and fun. Some choices:
- "Consider an activity book of some sort to do while sitting through chemo infusions. They have some cool ones now, like 'paint by stickers' or punch-out paper animals to fold.”
- Yarn for knitting or crocheting is a great choice, if your loved one enjoys this hobby.
- Adult coloring books are popular for a reason; they’re a fun way to keep your hands and mind focussed. Some even offer uplift specifically for cancer survivors.
The Security of a Blanket
This is a popular gift item during chemo, and for good reason; there's nothing like the gift of a blanket to lend comfort. Some choices to consider:
- Penzeys will donate one of these blankets to someone in need for each that is purchased.
- “I received a great blanket for helping with night sweats and hot flashes. I love it! There’s also a pillowcase version, which is also awesome.”
- If you like to knit, crochet, or quilt, a homemade blanket will be a gift to treasure.
"Simple" Greeting Cards
Don't imagine that cards in the mail seem dull. The opposite is true: When your mailbox is being flooded with medical bills and insurance notices, it's a joy to find a hand-written note from a loved one mixed among them. Here are some ways to say "Thinking of you":
- Empathy Cards from Emily McDowell, a designer and cancer survivor, could be just right.
- “The best gift was, I had cards from a friend to open before every radiation treatmentso I had something to look forward to.”
- “Handwritten cards made a world of difference,” said one survivor. Another added, “Handwritten cards really helped, especially where people wrote something about what I mean to them and why they love me.”
For Newly Bald Heads
Hair loss can be an especially hard and disorienting aspect of chemo. Make this side of things easier with these ideas:
- A silk or satin pillowcase, for a sensitive scalp
- “Soft head wrapsI didn't want to wear the wig all the time!”
- The makers of Love Your Melon beanies contribute a portion of proceeds to pediatric cancer research.
Socks with Flair
This basic item can be a huge comfort during cancer treatmentand why should your loved one be stuck with boring options? Have some fun with these ideas:
- One survivor enjoyed receiving sassy “survivor socks.”
- “Fluffy socks with grips on the bottom, to avoid slipping on tiles, were fantasticI lived in them."
- Conscious Step socks support charity organizations around the world.
Odds & Ends
Some distinct suggestions that might be big a help:
- “One thing that not many think of, but that has been my best friend during chemo, is my little portable fan, to blast me during chemo hot flashes. 'Fanny' comes to treatments, to my work desk, and even to bed with me."
- “I could have really used a long phone charger."
- “I wanted to laugh and would have appreciated funny movies or magazines to read or shows to watch. Maybe a gift card for two months of streaming for Netflix or Hulu?"
- “My aunt sent me a beautiful wooden hand-painted comb, closer to the end of my treatment year. It was the most touching gift I received.”