I have been planning to write an article about the best gifts for cancer patients for several weeks, pulling together themes and content, drafting an outline and assembling photos. And then, on Saturday as I watched my boys splash in mud puddles, I received a call. One of my best friends from college had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Her news dropped like a bombshell. While I can’t share more on that topic now, know that this post is coming straight from my wobbly little heart, as I too, am looking for the best gifts to give cancer patients.
Learning about a friend’s cancer diagnosis feels like getting hit with a wrecking ball. It swings in from out of nowhere and changes your landscape. It leaves you dumbstruck, disoriented and feeling helpless. While the future is scary, now is not the time to shy away.
According to the American Cancer Society, research shows that cancer patients need support from friends. Furthermore, cancer survivors with strong social support networks tend to better adjust to the changes cancer brings, have a more positive outlook, and often report a better quality of life. So let’s buck up and give our dear ones the support they need.
What to look for in a gift
With seemingly limitless gift options available, it can be helpful to set some basic guidelines. When considering what to give a loved one facing cancer or other serious health issues, I recommend giving gifts that are:
- Mood boosting
- Non-toxic / healthy
- Come from the heart
In addition, I think it’s helpful to point out what you don’t need to do. There is no need to a.) spend a great deal of money on your gift, nor b.) overthink the decision and risk doing nothing at all.
What is important is that you show up, demonstrate your support and act with love. Nobody is here to judge you. And so, without further ado, here are some gift ideas that I hope you find helpful.
Quiltlove’s Gift List for Cancer Patients
1. Personalized quilt from their support network
A group quilt checks all the boxes as an ideal gift for someone facing cancer. Quilts are personalized, lasting, and made by hand, meeting the magnitude of a cancer diagnosis. In addition, quilt squares contain drawings and handwritten messages from the recipient’s support network, making it an immediate mood booster that comes straight from the heart.
Everyone in the support network can purchase squares individually through our website at $25/each, keeping this high quality gift affordable. What better way to wrap someone facing cancer in your love and support, than with a warm, fuzzy quilt?
2. Messages, cards, notes and calls
Not all gifts come in boxes! You can just as effectively show your support through various forms of communication. The American Cancer Society offers helpful recommendations for giving the gift of emotional support through messages, cards and phone calls. Their advice includes the following points:
- Send brief, frequent notes or texts, or make short, regular calls
- Ask questions
- End a call or note with “I’ll be in touch again soon,” and follow through
- Call at times that work best for your friend or set times for them to call you
- Return messages promptly
I especially like the cheeky cards by cancer survivor Emily McDowell of Em & Friends, and anything homemade, of course.
I recommend asking a loved one what type of communication they would prefer (noting that it may change over time). In addition, consider scheduling communication in your personal calendar to help make it a regular occurrence.
3. Meal deliveries
Between attending doctors appointments and treatment sessions, managing new and challenging administrative issues (looking at you, health insurance providers) and generally feeling terrible (let me count the ways), your loved one could probably use some help with meals. This is especially true if they have young children at home. Lighten their load and brighten their days by teaming up with friends to provide help with meals. I love Take Them a Meal and Give InKind for their organizational support platforms.
Unsure of what to cook? The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has a terrific database of recipes designed for people facing cancer. Check out the edamame hummus and baked chicken fajitas. Yum.
Don’t know how to cook? Take Them a Meal offers an integrated food delivery program. Side note, this is not an affiliate post… I just really love them. Or, send restaurant gift cards or meals via Grubhub, DoorDash and the like.
Bring humor to their days with silly movies, personal videos, light reads and other forms of low-key entertainment. Audio books, podcasts, adult coloring books and pretty puzzles are also great options.
Final thoughts on gifting
In what feels like an increasingly commercialized world, there can be a lot of emphasis placed on spending money and giving elaborate gift boxes. I encourage you to think about gifts that come from the heart and enable a loved going through cancer to feel your support.
Have you recently given or received a cancer support gift? What was it? How did it make you feel? I would love to hear your thoughts and add to this list.
As you know, this piece hits close to home right now, so I am especially grateful for this little piece of the internet and my Quiltlove community.
As always, thanks for reading.