I was recently asked for a list of suggestions when putting together a package for someone going through cancer. Just another silver lining to that cancer cloud of mine!
Depending on the type a person has, the hormone receptors, the stage, aggressiveness and so on, everyone’s cancer is different.
But, if you love someone who’s going through the cancer battle and you feel helpless, I offer to you a list of items that someone going through chemotherapy might appreciate. Keep in mind, chemotherapies can vary greatly and not everyone loses their hair. This list of gifts is geared for someone like me, who had hair loss.
A lot of these ideas came from gifts I received from friends and family.
- CDs with relaxation music. Yoga-type stuff.
- Biotene mouth rinse, to keep the mouth from getting too dry.
- 99% Aloe Vera juice, to use as a rinse if mouth sores occur. You can find this at your local health food store.
- Hand sanitizer in all shapes and sizes. People going through chemotherapy have compromised immune systems. If you give hand sanitizers in different shapes and sizes they can have them sprinkled throughout their home, on their work desk, in their purse, etc.
- Fragrance-free lotions. A body, going through chemotherapy, can become incredibly dry. Fragrance free is the best option for sensitive skin and nails.
- Burt’s Bees lip stuff. Dry lips and chemo are almost a given.
- Nail strengthener. A person going through chemo has finger and toe nails that are a mess! Ridged, flaking, falling off (not mine but rumor has it!) Don’t buy them a gift card for a manicure or a pedicure. When a person’s immune system is compromised, it’s not safe to go for a mani/pedi.
- Gift card for a massage. Now that’s a gift!
- Chemo caps. Every time someone I know is going to have to go through chemotherapy, I order these caps from UrbanHeadwear at etsy. They’re incredibly soft and don’t hurt a sensitive, newly-bald, very cold, head. Here’s the link to an example of what I’m talking about, from the etsy store I order from. They’re inexpensive and well-received. They can also be used for a hat liner.
- Head scarves. I know this is a very personal choice but you never know what kind of good scarves can come from a variety of caring people! I got a lot of great scarves, caps, buffs, etc.
- Soft pajamas and socks. Chemotherapy can make a person incredibly tired. Better than laying in bed with an oversized t-shirt and hole-filled sweatpants, a soft pair of pretty pajamas will help anyone’s attitude. Besides, when someone shows up with a casserole, a person would like to look somewhat decent!
- Hard candies in mellow flavors. Something like Werner’s original caramels, starlight mints, rootbeer barrels, Lifesavers. Stay away from lemon drops or anything that might be abrasive to a sensitive tongue.
- Crystallized ginger candies. I’m separating this from the other hard candies because this one is important. Ginger is known to sooth an upset stomach. The grocery store has crystallized ginger that’s used in baking that is also perfect during chemo! Chocolate might not be such a great idea while the gastrointestinal system is under attack.
- Journal and pens. Something pretty to journal in or keep track of information and appointments.
- Puffs Plus. Lotion-laced facial tissue – genius! Someone who loses their hair from chemo doesn’t just lose it from the top of their head. They also lose those itty bitty nasal hairs whose purpose is to keep germs out and boogers in. No hair? Runny nose!
- Caffeine free soda (no artificial sweeteners) 7-Up, ginger ale, root beer, Sprite. Just a little something to sip on while unable to stand the taste of real food during the days the tongue is recovering from the toxic chemo.
- Popsicles. Again, something to keep a person hydrated during the worst days of bad tasting food. It’s all part of the recovery cycle!
- Salty soups. Maybe it was just me, but on the days that I couldn’t stand the taste of anything and needed to get some food into my system, Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup was tolerable. All I could taste was the salt but I found this to be the least-offensive food at the time. I was also able to taste McDonald’s hamburgers. But I can’t suggest those for a healthy recovery. However, I’m just saying…
- Gift cards for local restaurants. Not so much for your friend or family member going through chemo but for the rest of their family. A mother going through cancer suffers when she is unable to take care of her family in the way that she likes. Your generous gift cards help a mom (or dad) provide food for their family. The BEST gift I received was when my friend, Claudia, had frozen pizzas from Brooklyn overnighted to me in Minneapolis! I got to feed my family! Also, I timed the eating of the pizzas just right and was able to enjoy one myself!
I hope this helps give you some suggestions for what you can do to help out your loved one going through cancer. It doesn’t replace the time and care you can give them but it helps so much and they will greatly appreciate your thoughtfulness.
January 26th went by and I totally forgot it was the fourth anniversary of the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer. February 3rd went by and I totally forgot it was the fourth anniversary of the day I had my bilateral mastectomy.
I consider this to be a success. Cancer doesn’t dominate my life like it used to. Oh sure, I’ve still got the hardly-any-hair issue and there was that overnight hospitalization back in December due to the lymphedema, but hey, fuck you cancer! I’ve apparently got better things to do than to take note of your anniversary dates!
And that, my friends, is all I’ve got for today. I’ll let you go because I’m sure you have a lot to do to get ready for my birthday next week!
I received an article in my email today that I think is important to share with you. Thanks, CiNDy!
If you have someone in your life suffering from trauma and you don’t know what to do? Read this article and you might have your answer.
Having gone through breast cancer while my son was walking into his mental health disease at the same time left many of my friends clueless with what to do. My dearest friends knew what to do without having knowledge of this article. My family knew what to do to help me get through my cancer. My mom, bless her stitched-together heart, wasn’t so good with my cancer but boy-oh-boy! Is she wonderful with my son’s mental illness! I don’t think I’ve told her just how thoughtful she’s been!
She has never turned her back on my son, worried about saying the wrong thing. She has never blamed him for his disease of the brain. She has spent time with him, listening to him rant (when the drugs weren’t working) and treating him with an incredible respect.
For all of those years she let me down, the gift she’s given to my son has wiped the slate clean. She is way ahead of the game on this scoresheet and I have to make sure she knows what a wonderful grandmother she is!
She is truly the Art of Presence.
I am humbled.
Thank you, CiNDy, for the article that means so very much to me. For treating me like a dog when I was going through cancer and holding my hand as our family entered the battle with mental health.
I’m stealing this from you but you are both my Firefighter and my Builder.