Every person’s experience with cancer is unique which means there’s no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to finding the most appropriate gifts for someone with cancer. And of course, we’re always going to have our own personal tastes and preferences to think about. A great place to start when thinking about the best gifts for a friend with cancer is to simply be upfront and ask them. If they’re not in a place to give you an answer then a good crossword puzzle, colouring book, or comfortable tablet holder such as the iBeani are all great gifts for cancer patients. Undergoing treatment or surgery for cancer can mean long periods of time spent lying down or waiting around in hospitals. Cancer patient gifts which are stimulating and fun can be really useful in helping to pass the time.
At Live Better With, we categorise all our cancer products by side effect and symptom, so it’s easier for you to find the perfect get well soon gifts for your loved one. If you know what treatment they’re having, or if they’re feeling tired, nauseous or having difficulty sleeping at night, you can browse through and find cancer gift ideas best suited to their particular needs.
Radiotherapy is a form of treatment which uses high-energy rays, similar to that of an x-ray, to kill cancer cells. Radiotherapy is a common treatment for cancer, and roughly half of all cancer patients will end up receiving some form of radiotherapy. Radiotherapy can be used for several reasons:
- Completely remove tumours (curative radiotherapy)
- Shrink tumours
- Work alongside other treatments such as chemotherapy to improve effectiveness
- Reduce the risk of cancer returning post-surgery
- Ease symptoms if a cure isn’t possible (palliative radiotherapy)
Although the rays are used to target specific cancerous cells in the body, radiotherapy can also cause damage to healthy cells in the surrounding areas. This can cause uncomfortable side effects such as skin irritation, nausea, fatigue and hair loss, amongst others.
Our ‘radiotherapy gifts’ section is a great place to start if you’re looking for inspiration on cancer gift basket ideas for someone undergoing treatment. For example, the Lyonsleaf Complete Skincare Gift Set contains a selection of natural face creams and body butters designed specifically to help ease and heal skin troubles associated with treatments such as radiotherapy.
However, while skin reactions are common with radiotherapy, not everyone will suffer from them. We’re all unique, which means everyone will respond to cancer treatments differently. When you’re choosing cancer products for your friend or loved one, don’t be afraid to ask them outright what it is they need. That’s the best way of ensuring that you pick the perfect gift to fit their needs.
The short answer is no. We’re all individuals with different tastes so there shouldn’t be any restrictions when it comes to choosing the right gift for cancer patients.
That said, unless you know the person really well, be careful when choosing 'humourous' gifts to give cancer patients. Although you might have the best intentions at heart, it’s important to remember that we all have different coping mechanisms when it comes to dealing with challenging situations. While it might be tempting to try and lighten the mood, something you find funny could potentially be offensive to someone else. Others on the other hand, some people will appreciate humour.
The best advice we can give is to simply trust your instincts. Ultimately you’re always going to be in the best position to judge your unique relationship, and choose the right gift for a friend or loved one with cancer.
If you’re thinking of bringing flowers into the hospital, make sure you always check-in with the ward in advance.
There’s no doubt that flowers make lovely get well soon gifts, but there’s been a lot of debate recently over the safety of having them in hospitals. In addition to aggravating allergies, they can act as a breeding ground for germs. Many cancer patients will be experiencing compromised immune systems; making them much more prone to infections than normal. This is especially true for patients with haematological cancers such as multiple myeloma or leukaemia. In fact, most wards dealing with patients with these types of diagnoses are likely to ban flowers entirely. If you’re unsure, always call the ward beforehand to check.
Alternatively, have a browse through some of our gift basket ideas for cancer patients in this section… All the gifts featured on our site have been recommended by members of our community. With a range of different options to choose from, you’ll find plenty of lovely alternative gifts for people with cancer.
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’s no one set time in the day to visit someone with cancer. The best thing you can do is work around them and how they’re feeling, which means your first port of call should always be them. Ask what time would work best for them and try to fit any plans in around that. And if you’re visiting someone in hospital , always make sure you get up to date on the visiting hours of their particular ward.
Try not to be offended if plans change… Living with chronic illness can mean unexpected bouts of fatigue or waves of nausea, and often these things can change minute-by-minute. The best way to support anyone living with cancer is to be flexible, so you can be there for them in the way that they need.
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 treatment. Surgery is performed for different purposes:
To remove the entire tumour
To remove parts of the tumour to make it easier for radiotherapy or chemotherapy
To remove areas where the cancer has spread
To ease symptoms (such as putting a stent in to help with urinating)
Undergoing surgery can be painful, and typically involves some form of decreased mobility and a lot of time spent lying down. Anything that can help bring back a sense of comfort will be helpful gifts to give a friend with cancer following surgery. For example, a beani tablet holder can make watching films or reading the news from bed a lot more comfortable. Alternatively, our community have found the SleepPhones Headband Headphones to be a comfortable way of listening to audiobooks, soothing music, or simply to help block out noise for a good night’s sleep.
Most operations will also entail some scarring. Any skin products that help support wound healing or reduce the appearance of scars are helpful gifts to give cancer patients who are recovering from surgery. Great examples of these are Kelo-Cote Scar Gel or Bio-Oil which are both gentle and suitable for people with sensitive skin.
Chemotherapy is a broad term given to the use of anti-cancer (cytotoxic) drugs as a means to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy might be given to cancer patients for a number of reasons, including to:
- Completely remove tumours (curative chemotherapy)
- Shrink tumours
- Work alongside other treatments such as radiotherapy to improve effectiveness
- Reduce the risk of cancer returning post-surgery
- Ease symptoms if a cure isn’t possible (palliative chemotherapy)
Whilst radiotherapy and surgery target specific areas, chemotherapy works throughout the whole body. This means that chemotherapy treatments destroy healthy cells alongside dangerous cancer cells. As a result, unfortunately, most people will experience some form of side effect following treatment. Whilst these can be very broad, almost all patients will experience some degree of fatigue and nausea, and many will also experience hair loss.
Hair loss can affect people in different ways but most people will find this an emotionally difficult time. Unfortunately you can’t help people bring back their hair, but you can help remind them how beautiful they are, with or without it. In our ‘chemo gifts’ section you’ll find a number of colourful headscarfs that can make thoughtful chemo gifts for cancer patients who experience hair loss. When choosing cancer gifts for her, it’s important to remember that everything can feel extra sensitive post-treatment. For this reason, it’s important to choose something light and comfortable. The Light Weight Silk Scarf featured in our ‘chemo gifts’ section is especially soft, and with 8 different colours to choose from, they make beautiful gifts for women with cancer suffering hair loss.
Of course, if you’re looking for gifts for male cancer patients, or gifts for kids with cancer, you might be looking for something a bit different. Aside from the side effects of treatment, an often-overlooked part of chemotherapy is boredom. Chemotherapy can be time-intensive and it’s common for patients to be hooked up to machines for several hours during a session. A stimulating brain puzzle or a selection of colouring books can help pass the time and take their mind off the treatment. The Passing The Time Gift Set is a popular cancer patient gift basket with a selection of puzzles and games that can be used to help pass the time during long treatments.
Immunotherapies are a set of drugs used to stimulate the patient’s own immune system to attack cancerous cells in the body.
Immunotherapies are administered in a similar way to chemotherapy but they tend to cause different side effects. While someone having chemotherapy might experience hair loss, for example, this would be an unusual side effect for someone receiving treatment with immunotherapies. Understanding the side effects of different treatments can be a helpful way of providing some guidance when it comes to choosing the right gifts for friends with cancer.
One of the most common side of effects of immunotherapies - and in fact all cancer treatments - is fatigue. This might mean long periods of time spent either at home or in the hospital, so a good book or a relaxing cushion - such as the HoMedics Heated Shiatsu Massage Cushion - are two great products for cancer patients that will help to increase comfort.
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