Cancer & Caregiving
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When it comes to buying gifts for friends and family, it can get kind of tricky. This is especially true if you are giving a gift to someone undergoing cancer treatment.
As one who has survived mesothelioma, I’ve been on the receiving end of some well-meaning gifts that just didn’t hit the mark. But I also know how difficult it is to find just the right present. You see something you think someone will like and imagine their ecstatic reaction, only for them to have barely an ounce of enthusiasm for your gift.
Finding the Right Gift Can Be Difficult
True story: Years and years ago, my husband and I would buy everyone in my family a Christmas gift – from my grandparents and four aunts to my mom and my three siblings. It would warm my heart when they would open their gifts and I could see the smiles on their faces. Well, one year it didn’t go so well for one particular person – my mom.
All throughout the year she talked about the new Jeff Foxworthy book of jokes. Every time we saw her she had to tell us a joke from the book that her coworker shared with her. So, when Christmas came around, it was a no-brainer when it came to getting her gift.
I searched high and low for that book. I wrapped it up nicely and placed a shiny bow on top. When it came time to give out presents I handed all my aunts their Victoria’s Secret bags with smell goods and then handed my mom her gift.
She looked at me kind of puzzled, not knowing what was wrapped in that small, square shape. She opened it and the look on her face said it all. My aunts were all smelling their perfumes and my mom said, “A book?!” I really didn’t know how to respond but to remind her how often she mentioned that book.
My family still talks about that day, even though now they see it as a joke. It was funny because she thought I bought her some perfume, too!
It’s the Thought that Counts, Right?
“It’s the thought that counts” is something I say all the time. Sometimes we get our hearts set on the gifts instead of the thought behind them. It’s the mere fact that someone thought enough to get you a gift that should be enough.
When you’re thinking of giving someone who is battling mesothelioma a gift, think more about how it will promote self-care, or choose something that will put a smile on their face.
During my journey with peritoneal mesothelioma, I got a lot of gifts – some that I liked and some that I didn’t like. One gift I received I still have almost 15 years later. It’s a Willow Tree Angel of Healing sculpted hand-painted figure. For me it was the thought behind it and the meaning behind the gift. Every time I looked at that angel I spoke my healing.
On the other hand, a not-so-good gift I received were some bad-smelling candles. I like candles, but the scent made me sick to my stomach. When you’re going through treatment your senses and body are very sensitive to a lot of things.
Think Before You Buy
Here are some things you should consider before giving a gift to someone who is going through cancer treatment.
- Emotional side effects. Consider their feelings and never give a gift that will make someone feel worse about their situation.
- Health concerns. Massages are great, but they may not be recommended for some cancer patients.
- Physical side effects. Stomac and skin sensitivity are very common among cancer patients. Avoiding food or scented items is vital.
10 Gift Suggestions
Now that I have explained what to avoid, here’s a list of great presents to give to a cancer patient.
- Soft and cozy socks. This is high on the list. While going through treatment, it’s like your feet are always cold. Some nice cozy socks are a great idea. Remember, the fuzzier the better.
- A gift card for a food or grocery delivery service. This is a great alternative to sending or cooking food, because it will enable them to choose their own meals.
- Pajamas or loungewear. What’s better than being able to have comfortable clothes during your treatment?
- Unscented hand cream. Dry and cracked hands can be a side effect of chemotherapy, so being able to have something that will keep their hands and feet moisturized is good.
- A care basket. It can be filled with a variety of things, such as a warm blanket, some comfortable slippers, as well as their favorite books and magazines.
- Devotional and prayer shawl. This is always a great idea and will allow them to stay in good spirits.
- A journal and nice pens. Sometimes patients want to document their journey or even just brain dump whatever they may be thinking of at a particular time.
- Hire a professional housecleaner. This gives them one less thing to worry about. Having a clean home makes a world of a difference. Make sure the company uses safe cleaning products.
- Home air purifier. I know this may not be on some people’s lists but the benefits of having an air purifier are unmatched. These HEPA filters will remove microscopic particles from the air. An air purifier will also help with sleeping because its white noise will drown out annoying sounds.
- Listen to them. Our time is so valuable, so why not give them the gift of your time and keep them company?
I’m sure there are hundreds more things that would make the good gift list. There’s so much going on in a cancer patient’s world that just letting them know you’re thinking of them will make a world of difference!
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