Gift Ideas for Cancer Patients and Families

This is just a quickie post. The other day on facebook a friend was asking what sorts of things make good gifts for a person with cancer, and that question, combined with my own ruminations, is what prompted this post.

I will likely NOT think of everything there is to say, because every cancer patient is different and there are so many types of cancer and so many different treatment modalities with new ones coming available every day.

But here is what I know:

Cancer treatment is time consuming. It takes time and energy and often there is a need to travel to go see a top oncologist, to receive chemo infusions, immunotherapy infusions, or radiation treatments. Both the patient and their caregiver will be traveling. They will be sitting in waiting rooms, they will be waiting. And waiting.

They will need to smuggle food in. I’m just saying… ( remember one time I had not had lunch at it was pushing 3 pm before we finally saw the doctor…and I was very pathetic. Usually snacks are available, but I have extensive food allergies. After that day, I did a better job of planning ahead.

Items I frequently used on our treatment days: thermos full of hot food for each of us. Books, journal, laptop.

Gift ideas: Thermos, coffee thermos, travel mugs, meal kits/lunch box gear.

Hospitals are always either too cold or too hot…but mostly cold, I think. And Chemo makes a patient even colder. A loving gift of warm stuff is always welcome: wool socks, ,mittens, hat, shawl…hoodie. Chemo and radiation and steroids can break down skin and make it very sensitive, so make sure that the gift is SOFT.

Travel chapstick, lotion, carmex…that sort of thing. Because cars have dry air, waiting rooms have dry air…everything is dry dry dry…and cold, or overheated and skin can just get so darned chapped.

A cancer family needs an Instant Pot. Those oncology days are long and busy and tired. That IP was a lifesaver so many many times when we were going back and forth to Louisville.

A cancer family might need dining out gift cards. Because travel and low energy means there might be more restaurant meals than desirable.

A cancer family might appreciate a squad of people coming in to do some basic cleaning, or a gift certificate for a maid service.

A cancer family might appreciate an anti nausea gift bag that includes Quease-Ease, some anti-nausea wrist bands, ginger tea bags and all natural peppermint gum. This could be for the patient or for car sick kids who have to get dragged on trips to the doctor.

A cancer family might need babysitting.

A cancer family might need godparents or trusted friends to invite the kids into their lives on a more regular basis.

A cancer family might need visitors who won’t get offended if everyone starts having a melt down and they have to get asked to leave. Or visitors who are willing to only visit for a very few minutes because the sick person is too tired for any more than that.

And a cancer family might need people to hang in there with them even after the disease has stopped being new…because cancer is a long haul (except when it isn’t).

I know I have left many things out. But I hope this list of ideas will help someone care for a cancer family in your life.

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