Thoughtful Gifts for Cancer Patients

A gift can serve many purposes. It can brighten someone’s day and let you know you’re thinking about them. A gift can also be practical and help with day-to-day tasks such as cooking, entertaining or driving. Buying a gift usually isn’t a difficult process, so why then is it deemed difficult when buying a gift for someone with a cancer diagnosis?

At the face of it, people can find it difficult to buy a present for someone with cancer, as they are usually unaware of what they’d like, or what they could benefit from. Cancer can impact many different aspects of life and day to day activities. The impact can be short or long term.

Firstly ask yourself, what purpose do you want your gift to serve? Do you want to brighten someone’s day, and let them know you’re thinking of them? Or do you want to give a more practical gift that deals with a specific task or activity, like ? Once you are able to answer that question, it should be clearer what type of gift you could buy or give someone. Both styles of gifts have their benefits and constraints, so at the end, it really is a personal preference what gift you’d like to give; you may find your gift spans across both categories. In our Cancer Gift Ideas range, you'll also find some great inspiration for treatment-specific gifts, like our great gifts for chemo patients, post-surgery gifts or radiotherapy gifts.


But before giving a gift, here's a quick list of thoughts and questions to ask yourself to maximise your present-giving potential:

1) Do you have time to cook/drive/sit around?

Many people with cancer experience fatigue at some stage of their diagnosis. Treatment and recovery (eg. after surgery) can also be time-consuming. Therefore, offering to pick up a child or cook a meal can really make a positive impact in that person's day. Before making the gesture, though, make sure you have the availability and resources at hand. Like they say in planes, “place your oxygen mask on before helping others.” If you don’t have the availability to do those things for yourself, you may be better off providing something that requires minimal effort but still can have a maximum impact.

2) How are your listening skills?

Live Better With recently conducted a survey of our community, looking at ways people discuss cancer and the different types of comments people find particularly help or unhelpful. It was overwhelming how many people just wanted someone to listen. People didn’t want any advice or any follow-through; they simply wanted someone they could safely and fully express how they were feeling and what they were going through. Although it could be time-consuming, simply listening could be the best (and cheapest) gift you could give.

3) Be imaginative!

It’s very easy to go down the usual route of flowers and chocolate, and by all means, these are usually well received. But there are plenty of other types of gifts or gestures that people may not expect but could benefit from. Chemo care packages, gift baskets and funny gifts often go down a treat!  

4) Are you expecting something in return?

A thoughtful gift or gesture never goes astray for someone with cancer. And although people often have the capability to say thank you in return, some people undergoing cancer treatment can be experiencing chronic fatigue or chemo brain which can cause forgetfulness. So it can be expected and forgiven for some people to forget to say thanks. But this does not mean they aren’t thankful!

Have you thought about:

  • A magazine subscription
  • Music or Entertainment subscriptions (such as Spotify or Netflix)
  • Frozen meal delivery
  • Bringing over or renting their favourite movie (and some popcorn)
  • At home spa, hair blow wave, manicure or pedicure, massage (like the Sweet Cecily's Pamper Pack)
  • Uber or taxi gift card (for treatments or appointments)
  • A fun but gentle activity, such as bowling or mini golf
  • Minding their kids or pet for an afternoon/evening
  • Taking on some household chores or hiring a cleaner for a morning for them
  • Sending a message with your good wishes with “no need to reply” at the end
  • The Get Well Soon Gift Bag of Treats

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