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Radiotherapy is a type of cancer treatment. High-energy rays, similar to that of an X-Ray, are pointed directly to the location of the tumour where the energy rays emit their beam to kill cancer cells. It can be used to shrink tumours, and remove tumours (curative), to help with side effects such as pain, and reduce the chances of cancer cells returning.

Radiotherapy can be given externally (external beam radiotherapy), or internationally (brachytherapy).

Patients having external radiotherapy will usually experience side effects relating to where the radiation was delivered. However as the skin is usually in the range of field, dry, red, burning skin is often a side effect people develop. Gifts that people having radiotherapy may find helpful will revolve around reducing symptoms of their dry skin. Skin care products, cooling pillows, and bamboo fabric clothes and sheets are very useful to help combat these side effects.

Patients having radiotherapy can also experience nausea. So products such as ginger, or anti-nausea sick bands are very well received, as have been known to manage the symptom of radiotherapy related nausea.

Immunotherapies are administered very similarly to chemotherapy. The main difference between chemo and immunotherapy is immunotherapy is targeted. Meaning they have been developed to go directly to the cancer cells, whereas chemotherapy is designed to attack any cell that rapidly divides.

People having immunotherapy may experience similar side effects to those having chemo, such as fatigue and nausea. But may not have hair loss or mouth sores or dry skin. People having immunotherapy may benefit from products that help with fatigue, and needing to be indoors. These could be books that help stimulate the mind, or pampering gifts.

Chemotherapy is a type of treatment that can be used to shrink tumours, remove tumours, and decrease the chances of cancer returning. It can also be given to help alleviate side, effects such as pain, that are caused by tumours.

Chemotherapy can cause a range of side effects, but most people will experience some degree of fatigue and nausea. Having chemotherapy can be a long and boring experience, with people having to be hooked up to machines for many hours (some regimens can take up to 8 hours without delays!).

If you know someone having chemo, a well-received gift could involve brain puzzles, or colouring books to help keep the person entertained and stimulated. Nausea products, and products to help with fatigue, such as eye masks, gentle exercise equipment, or snacks will inevitably help someone get through their treatment.

 

There has been much debate over recent years whether flowers are suitable in hospital rooms. The fear is that flowers can exacerbate a person's allergies, as well as be a breeding ground for germs. 

Patients having chemo, radiotherapy and surgery are more prone to infections than their healthier counterparts. Many cancer patients can have very weak immune systems, this is particularly true for patients with a haematological cancer such as multiple myeloma or leukaemia. Hospital units and wards that have a high population of patients with these diagnoses, or with people with weakened immune systems may ban flowers in the ward. 

If you are uncertain whether to bring flowers, call the unit or ward beforehand to confirm. 

 

 

Every person's experience with cancer is unique. Additionally, people have different tastes and preferences. If you are looking to give a gift for someone who has been diagnosed with cancer or is undergoing treatment, the first thing to do is ask them. If they are unsure of what they would like, or politely say “nothing” gifts that can stimulate the brain during long periods of lying down or being spent in hospital are ideal. These can include crossword puzzles books, colouring books, or tablet holders such as the iBeani. 

At Live Better With we categorise our products by side-effect and symptom. So if you know what treatment they are having, or if they feeling tired, nauseous or having trouble sleeping at night, you’ll be able to find gift ideas based on what will be most useful for them.
 

Besides a cold, it depends on you and the person.

If you don’t know the person very well, or unsure of their coping mechanisms, tread carefully with humour, as it can backfire if the person has a different strategy for coping than yourself. However, if you know the person well, then your judgement should be enough on what to give and what not to give. 
 

There is no one-size-fits-all answer. The principles are very similar to visiting and catch-up with someone who does not have a cancer diagnosis. Finding out what time suits them, and not enforcing yourself is key. If the person you are visiting is in hospital, also find out visiting hours, so you are not disturbing the patient or turned unexpectedly away.  
 

Having a cancer diagnosis can feel like being hit by a truck. Both emotionally and physically. It is can be difficult to comprehend what someone is going through if you have not been through it yourself. And even if you have, everyone’s experience with cancer is unique.

Discussing a cancer diagnosis with friends or family can be met with awkward silences, or the unintentionally unhelpful comments such as “I knew someone who has what you have and they died,” or “you’ll be fine, you’re strong!” In some cultures discussing illness can be seen as taboo, yet people still find they need some support or acknowledgement that they are unwell.

Giving a thoughtful gift to someone with cancer can lift their spirits immensely and provide them with the recognition that they may need. Flowers are a very easy gift to give, and often received positively, but they do not go the next level of recognition.

If you know someone who is going through radiotherapy, soothing skin cream for burnt or dry skin can do two things. Firstly it acknowledges that what the person is going through is not nice, and you recognise that there are side effects which the person may experience, and secondly it gives them a gift which they can use and benefit from.

Sometimes it can be difficult to know what to give someone with cancer, the following ideas are based on treatment and some diagnoses to help provide you with some helpful tips.

The majority of people with solid cancers (as opposed to blood cancers), will have surgery at some point in their diagnosis. Surgery can be performed to remove the entire tumour, remove parts of the tumour to make it easier for radiotherapy or chemotherapy, remove areas where the cancer has spread, and for symptom relief (such as putting a stent in to help with urinating).

Surgery can lead to temporary pain, decreased mobility and more time spent lying down. Gifts for someone who has had or will have surgery should help increase the person's comfort with minimal effort. Tablet holders and cushions are great ideas for someone who is needing bed rest. Post-surgical bras, pyjamas, tops and drain bags are ideal for anyone having surgery that may require drain tubes or regular wound dressings.

For those having operations that could cause scarring, products to help reduce the look and feel of scarring may come in handy.