We all know that chemotherapy can be a difficult time. But whether someone has side effects and the extent of the side effects cannot always be predicted. There are however some basic rules for getting gifts for chemo patients, that if you stick to you won’t go wrong.
What not to buy someone who is having chemotherapy
Although flowers and chocolates are typical ‘cheer-up’ and ‘get-well-soon’ gifts, this is not the case for chemotherapy patients.
Flowers and plants
You should avoid giving fresh flowers and plants to people undergoing chemotherapy because they can carry germs. These germs are harmless to a healthy person, but someone going a course of chemo has a reduced ability to fight infection, so flowers and plants can make them ill.
Chocolates and Other Food
Chemotherapy nausea is a common symptom of therapy and chemo patients are often advised to change their eating habits to cope with this, depending on their symptoms. In addition, taste can change. Things that a chemotherapy patient once enjoyed can temporarily give a bad taste. So before buying any type of food its best to check what they can and can’t (or don’t want to) eat/drink.
Having said what you shouldn’t buy, there are a wide range of therapy safe comfort and practical gifts you can give, and some of them don’t have to cost you any money.
Comfort Gifts For Chemo Patients
Helping with stress
There is nothing more comforting than a listening ear.
If you have the time to spare a gift that won’t be forgotten is you actively listening to your friend undergoing chemo. They may not want to talk, but knowing you are there for them can be a big help. How to talk to someone with cancer and how you can help is discussed more in our article – Helping a friend with cancer: what you need to know.
Occupying the time
A chemotherapy session consists of sitting in a chair or lying in a bed having infusions of medicine. This can be very boring and there are many gifts that can help relieve the boredom and stress and add some comfort. For example:-
Colouring books: Not just for children, adult colouring books have been shown to relieve stress. In a recent paper from Dr Miriam Rigby, a palliative care speciality doctor and Dr Mark Taubert, a consultant physician both at Velindre Cancer Centre, Cardiff, UK says “Our patients tell us that colouring can make the hours go a bit quicker….It relaxes the mind and the body,” and “While you are doing it, you concentrate only on that one task.”
Magazines: For all our cancer gift hampers , we decided not to include anything that is too mentally challenging like crosswords, sudoku or books. Because many cancer drugs can cause temporary brain fog, these activities can become frustrating. Magazines are, however, usually a lighter read and can be a welcome distraction.
Music: Relaxing music can help with stress and take up therapy time. So an itunes voucher, relaxing CD or MP3 player could help and provide some comfort.
Soothing comfort gifts
There are several comforting items that can help with chemotherapy symptoms which can be taken to treatment or used whilst convalescing at home.
- Snuggly blankets and bed socks can help soothe the extremities which can get cold during chemotherapy.
- Moisturisers and hand creams to counteract any dryness caused by therapy.
- Hand massages to help with the stiffness that chemotherapy can cause.
Useful Chemotherapy Gifts
Sometimes people don’t want comfort, they need practical gifts to help them through treatment and convalescence. These usually have to be tailored to the chemotherapy patients individual needs, but we have some general suggestions below.
Help around the house
Setting up a rota to help at home or help to get to treatments can be very useful. Most people have busy lives and when you add to that the need to go to chemotherapy appointments, the everyday tasks like cleaning and shopping get ignored. This can add to stress.
Bag for snacks
A common suggestion to help with chemotherapy nausea is to eat little and often. A good way to help this is to carry food around when on-the-go. So a light food carrier can be a great help. To keep by the bed, in the car and to take to therapy sessions.
Fancy water bottle
It is always good to stay hydrated and cancer dehydration is a real risk to the general health of a chemotherapy patient. The gift of a fancy water bottle will make sure that your friend always has water at hand.
Almost everyone these days has a mobile phone, smartphone, MP3 player or tablet and it is very likely that these will be used during chemotherapy sessions. A portable power bank will ensure that these electrical devices don’t run out.
Anti-nausea wristbands are a drug-free way to help control nausea that can be caused by chemotherapy. It is something that a chemotherapy patient may not have thought to buy but can be a welcome gift.
Articles about cancer gifts
Chemotherapy side effects
Helping someone with cancer
Dr Cohen started her working life as a research scientist and lecturer with over 100 peer-reviewed scientific publications.
She followed a classical scientific career until she left mainstream science in 2000 (which coincided with the birth of her first daughter) to establish the Life Science Communications company, Euroscicon Ltd.
Euroscicon Ltd was her first company (which she sold in 2016).
In 2013 she was diagnosed with Cancer and set up Cancer Care Parcel
She also works with and establishes businesses and charities which benefit local, national and international communities via her company – The Pein Consultancy Ltd
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We strongly advise you to talk with a health care professional about specific medical conditions and treatments. The information on our site is meant to be helpful and educational but is not a substitute for medical advice.