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Your Friend with Cancer: Giving Gifts

December 08, 2021

Finding the right holiday gift for a friend or family member can be difficult. What’s the “perfect” present that shows how much you care about your friend – and is it appropriate for someone with cancer?

In the third of four articles dedicated to supporting your friend with cancer, Tausha Anderson, RN, OCN, manager of nursing services at Texas Oncology—Beaumont Mamie McFaddin Ward Cancer Center, provides gift ideas for your friend with cancer.

Are there any “dos and don’ts” in giving gifts to a friend with cancer?

Do consider gifts like unscented lotions and lip balms, gift certificates to their favorite grocery store, a good-hearted novel, and funny movies or magazine subscriptions.

Some “don’ts” include plants or scented toiletries and perfumes, as well as sad movies, books, and “get well soon” cards.

What’s the most “in-demand” item for someone undergoing or recovering from cancer treatment?

People undergoing or recovering from cancer treatments often appreciate items that keep them warm, like “chemo beanies,” or hats. Things like fuzzy socks and insulated water bottles are also helpful.

Adding personal touches to simple items can help your friend feel even more loved and supported."

What should I consider giving to a child with cancer? Is there anything they aren’t allowed to have or something that may affect their treatment?

Games, stuffed animals, or soft toys can bring joy to a child with cancer. Any type of comfortable socks, slippers, pajamas, or cozy clothes that are bright-colored or funny can brighten their day. Secret journals or diaries are also great for children to express their feelings privately.

Should I bring gifts in-person?

Yes, so long as you plan a time when your friend is open to seeing guests. Sometimes it helps your friend to see a familiar face, and a visit can be a meaningful opportunity to let your friend know you care, and a reminder of the love that surrounds them.

What’s the most creative or meaningful gift you have seen a cancer patient receive during the holidays?

One gift that stood out to me was a holiday care basket filled with unscented lotions, a blanket with embroidered family photos, a USB drive containing slide shows of pictures, a meal, a cleaning service gift card, and ginger for nausea. Adding personal touches to simple items can help your friend feel even more loved and supported.


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