13 Gifts for a Cancer Patient

Being diagnosed with cancer can be difficult on all fronts – emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally.  If you know someone with cancer, here are 13 thoughtful gifts for a cancer patient.

The odds are pretty high that you know someone who is either going through cancer treatment, or has been through cancer treatment.  Approximately 1 in 3 woman will get cancer in their lifetime, and nearly 1 in 2 men.  Which means, unfortunately, practically everyone will be effected by cancer in some way or another.

While many advancements have been made in cancer treatments over the past few decades, it is still terrifying to receive a cancer diagnosis and treatment is rarely fun.  It can be an incredibly difficult and lonely time for patients, especially around the holidays.

With Christmas right around the corner, I thought I would put together a list of some items that would make good gifts for a cancer patient.  I was fortunate that my own cancer was caught early and surgery was the only treatment I needed.  Even though I “got off easy” with treatment, my surgery was a major surgery and by no means “easy.”  Plus, I still had to deal with all of the emotional and mental turmoil that comes with a cancer diagnosis.

I also have numerous friends who are either currently in active treatment (including chemo and/or surgeries), or who have just finished treatment.  

So, this list is a combination of my own personal ideas, plus some contributions from my friends who are walking a different treatment road than I did.

13 Gifts for a Cancer Patient

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1. Comfy Clothes

Comfort is key for anyone going through any type of cancer treatment.  Loose, soft, and flowy clothes that are easy to get on and off are great for anyone who will be having surgery.  I made sure to stock up on super soft leggings before my radical hysterectomy, and my brother’s girlfriend sent me an amazing pair of joggers to wear during recovery.  Chemo and radiation often make a patient feel sick and/or cold.  So, comfortable, warm clothes are always a good gift.

2. Warm Blanket

As I just mentioned, some cancer treatments can cause patients to feel cold.  So, a nice warm blanket is also a good bet.  

Cancer treatment of any type causes a lot of discomfort – physically, mentally, and emotionally – therefore, increasing comfort is key.  Everyone knows how great it feels to wrap yourself up in the cocoon of a soft, warm blanket. 

*Bonus points if you get a blanket in the color of the patients cancer ribbon.

3. Sleep Aids and Accessories

Sleep can be difficult when going through treatment.  Some treatments and medications can cause insomnia.  Or a patient may have trouble sleeping due to pain from surgery, nausea, night sweats, or a host of other reasons.  Yet, sleep is so important during cancer treatment, in order to help the body recover and heal. 

So, any type of sleep aid or accessory is welcome, such as sleep masks, slippers, robes, lavender pillow spray, etc.

4. House Cleaner

Having someone come clean your house when going through treatment is such an amazing gift.  My mom came into town a week after my surgery and did a bunch of cleaning while she was here.  It was such a relief to be able to continue resting, while knowing that my house was being tended to.  

Paying for someone to clean house for a cancer patient could potentially be a great gift and a big relief.  It may take some coordination with the patient, though, and not everyone may be comfortable with it.  So, I would definitely check with the patient before putting any money down.

5. Meals

Meals are usually a no brainer, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t incredibly appreciated.  My friends set up a meal train for me for the first 6 weeks after my surgery.  We had 3 meals per week delivered to our door, and it was so helpful for us.  

So, don’t hesitate to set up a meal train for someone and send it out to family and friends.  And if there’s no meal train, just ask when a good night would be to drop off dinner.  Even if the patient is not feeling well enough to eat, they will appreciate their family being fed, and they may be up to having some leftovers at some point.

6. Books or Magazines

Cancer patients often have a fair amount of downtime – either while recovering from surgery, or sitting around while getting infusions.  And while they may very well be sleeping during a fair amount of that time, it is nice to have something available for when they are not.  

Books and magazines are great gift items.  They are relatively small and light and easy to take to the hospital, or into bed with you.  Magazines, in particular, are good with their shorter snippets and articles.  Sometimes reading would make me sleepy, and I wouldn’t make it very far into my book before falling asleep.  But magazine articles are nice, short entertainment.

7. Netflix Subscription

Some type of TV or streaming subscription is another great idea for someone who may have a bit of extra time on their hands.  This one may take some coordination with the patient, in order to insure you are not doubling something they already have.  There are so many different apps and services out there now, though, I imagine you should be able to find something that the patient doesn’t already have.

8. Guided Meditation App Subscription

Getting a cancer diagnosis can be stressful and can create a lot of anxiety.  Some evidence shows that meditation can help relieve anxiety, improve sleep, and boost mood, which are all incredibly beneficial for cancer patients.  Shortly after I was diagnosed, I came across the Core Meditation Trainer Device.  It is a device that uses dynamic vibrations and biofeedback to help you meditate.  The paid subscription grants you access to tons of guided meditations, breath training, and soundscapes.  My mom ended up purchasing this for me, and I absolutely love it.  It is incredibly relaxing, especially on particularly stressful days.

Other meditation app subscriptions include Headspace (this was recommended by my own oncologist), Calm, Shine, and 10 Percent Happier.

9. Bath Salts/Bath Bombs

Speaking of relaxing, bath salts or bath bombs are another great gift idea.  I do know that sometimes cancer patients are advised not to take baths during certain parts of their treatment.  For many, though, baths can be very soothing, as well as healing.  They can be helpful for soothing the skin of those going through radiation.  Epsom salt is particularly helpful, as many believe it can help detox the body.  There is some evidence out there that salt water baths can help improve chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy.  

You could always make your own bath soaks to give as gifts.  They are incredibly easy, and cheap, to make.  You can find a couple of different recipes here and here.

10. Unscented/Clean Lotions

Many cancer patients report skin sensitivities while going through treatment.  Both chemo and radiation can cause a host of skin problems, including dry/itchy skin, redness, swelling, open sores, and peeling.  Lotions and moisturizers are a great idea for any cancer patient receiving these treatments.  I would stay away from anything scented though.  Stick with lotions that are unscented and contain only high quality, clean ingredients.

11. Clean/Natural Cleaning Products

Often times, cancer patients will “detoxify” their lives after a cancer diagnosis.  Genetic specialists estimate that only 5-10% of cancer cases are due to faulty, inherited genetics.  This means that 90-95% of cases are due to environmental factors.  Read that again – 90-95% of cancer cases are due to environmental factors.  That’s crazy!  It’s also why many patients start overhauling their homes in favor of more natural and clean products. 

Natural, or “clean,” cleaning products would likely be welcome by any cancer patient.  Cleaning products are some of the most toxic items that we keep in our homes for regular use.  Cleaning up the cleaning products will go a long way toward “cleaning” up the entire home.

12. Air Purifier

If budget allows, an air purifier would be an amazing gift.  Most cancer treatments, including surgery, will dampen, or suppress, the immune system.  So, cancer patients have to be very careful about not picking up any viruses, bacterial infections, or mold, in order to keep their bodies as strong as possible.  An air purifier would go right along with cleaning up the entire environment that a patient is living in.  

13. Tea

Cancer treatments often make patients feel sick and nauseous, and tea can help relieve this.  Ginger teas and peppermint teas are particularly good at helping relieve nausea.  Many teas are also known to have cancer fighting properties.  Green tea, in particular, is a great choice for someone fighting cancer.  Just be sure you check for treatment interactions.  There are a couple of specific teas that are known to interact with very specific chemotherapy drugs, but for the most part, tea is a great addition to any cancer patients arsenal.

Bonus: Check-in Often

Here’s a bonus tip – one of the absolute best gifts for a cancer patient is simply checking in often with them.  As I stated at the beginning of this article, cancer can be incredibly lonely and isolating.  So, check in often with those you know who are going through treatment, and even those who are post treatment.  The post treatment period can often be even more difficult than active treatment.  It’s a time full of conflicting emotions, so make sure you stay close to those you care about who are going through, or have been through, the fire.

Hopefully, this list of my 13 best gifts for a cancer patient has been helpful for you and given you some ideas for those in your life who may be dealing with this terrible disease.


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