How to give a good gift to someone with breast cancer

How to give a good gift to someone with breast cancer| My Fabulous Boobies

How to give a good gift to someone with breast cancer

*Disclaimer: Affiliate links were used in this blog post. If you make a purchase through these links, I will receive a commission.*

I want to offer a little advice on how to give a good gift to someone diagnosed with breast cancer. These are a few simple rules that I've come up with during my time dealing with breast cancer... feel free to use as you see fit and as applies to your situation.

You learn that someone you love (or like a lot) has been diagnosed with breast cancer. You are distraught and want to help, but you have no idea what this person likes or needs. What do you do?

Simple answer: call (or email) and ask. It is preferable if you can reach out to someone close to that person, especially if the diagnosis is new and you are afraid of upsetting them.

You are not very close to this person (or you're shy and don't want to bother them with a phone call) but you want them to know that you care and that you are supporting them. What do you do?

Simple answer: send a card or a handwritten note expressing your feelings. The note does not have to be very long. It can simply say... "Thinking of you at this time" and that's it. The thought that someone outside of the situation cared enough to spend a little time and thought to send a note, really is helpful.

You don't want to look like a cheapskate and you want to give a gift that really will help their life since the diagnosis. What do you do?

Simple answer: Try to think of soothing things... gift baskets that you make yourself are very nice. Try to be mindful about where the person is in their treatment schedule. If they are in chemotherapy for example, then keep in mind that food is likely not their favorite thing so edible gifts may not be the best gifts. While flowers are a nice gift, chemotherapy makes a patient's immune system very weak and flowers (as well as fresh fruit) can have germs on them that will sicken the patient. Tea (ginger or peppermint) and a nice mug is a good gift.

A gift basket filled with cancer-sensitive items.
Click here to purchase 

If it has a pink ribbon on it and/or your purchase of the gift will also be a donation to a breast cancer charity... its a great idea, right?

Simple answer: NO! Just because it has a pink ribbon doesn't mean that it will matter at all to the person that you want to give it to. Some patients are very disturbed by the image of the pink ribbon. Many companies use the pink ribbon image and the promise of charitable donations merely as marketing ploys... keep in mind what your gift will mean to the recipient.

Your money is limited but your time is not. What do you do?

Simple answer: Call and offer your time. A visit is a beautiful gift that doesn't cost anything beyond your transportation expense. Offer to cook (or bring food) for them. Or offer to accompany the patient to an appointment or hang out with them during chemotherapy. Breast cancer can be very isolating and it is also very draining on the patient and their caregivers. You can give the caregiver a break for a few hours and sit with the patient... laughter is always free and a beautiful gift that will not go unnoticed. You can offer to cook or clean or maybe babysit the kids.
Panhandler bags are great for transporting a home-cooked meal.
Click here to purchase. 

Your time is limited, but your money is not. What do you do?

Simple answer: Give money. (laughs) Seriously though, cancer is a very expensive disease. Even if the person has great health insurance, co-pays, prescriptions, and all the "stuff" you need to buy as you go along in treatment really can tap your savings account in a major way. If you're uncomfortable giving cash, offer a gift card or a Visa/Mastercard giftcard to help offset expenses. Offer a giftcard for the grocery store, the pizza parlor (or whatever food place delivers and is enjoyed by the recipient).

A gift card for shopping at her favorite store, or to a restaurant
she enjoys will often be well-received.
Click here to purchase.
(Nordstrom is this blogger's favorite store, hint, hint.)

The person diagnosed is one of your closest friends but you live a million miles away. You want her to know that you love her and that you want to be of help. What do you do?

Keep regular dates with your friend. Either call at the same time or day every week or send cards/notes regularly. Do not fall off the face of the earth. And do not take it for granted that "if she needs me, she will call me" because she may not. She may not have the energy to call. She may not feel like burdening you with her concerns. Reach out to her and let her know regularly that she's not alone. 

You talked to your friend and she seemed really upset. What can you do?

Simple answer: You have to know your friend in order to know what will help. For me, comedy and laughter was the best gift. Some of my favorite gifts were funny movies and silly books that took my mind off of cancer for awhile. Also, the best thing that you can do to help your friend, is to learn about her disease. There are books out there to help husbands understand breast cancer, and there are books to explain breast cancer and its treatment. The more you know, the better you will be able to help her during this time. And the more you know the less likely you are to say something well-intentioned but insensitive.

This book is full of great advice for the man in your life
as he tries to cope with your diagnosis and treatment.
Click here to purchase this book. 

You are crafty/handy and want to give a hand-made gift. What would be helpful?

Simple answer: it depends on the patient. Two things to keep in mind:

One, if you want to buy clothes or things that will touch the skin, natural fabrics are best and be aware that chemotherapy and surgery makes the skin very sensitive. So, things that you might purchase for yourself may not be gentle enough for the patient. I remember wearing my socks inside out because my feet were so tender during chemotherapy that the seams inside the socks irritated my toes. (laughs) Yes, its that serious.

Two, if you want to give gifts like lotions or soaps, etc., please PLEASE make sure that it is all natural, preferably organic and does not have any irritating properties to it. If you don't live in an area where organic beauty supplies are plentiful, give items that are made for infants where possible. Epsom salts are a WONDERFUL gift. And cheap. May not be the sexiest gift in the world, but it is so soothing to take an epsom salt bath after chemotherapy. It helps with the aches and pains and it also pulls some of the toxins out of the body. Avoid items with parabens, mineral oil and sulfates. (you will have to read the ingredient label to be sure that these chemicals are not in the product) A good rule of thumb is if you wouldn't or couldn't eat it, don't put it on your skin.

You're not a great gift-giver but you want to help. What do you do?

Simple answer: provide ways to make life easier for the patient. Create a medical binder that the patient can use to keep all of the paperwork in one place. She will need a calendar system as well. Organization is the key to keeping everything relatively smooth going. The gift of a journal can also be helpful. A journal will give her a place to write her thoughts about the entire process but also to note any questions that make come up between doctor appointments. I kept a binder with sections for insurance paperwork, appointment paperwork, lists of medications and how to take them, bills and notices from the insurance company too. I purchased a large spiral paper calendar that I carried with me to every appointment so that I could write down where I was supposed to be and when. Any way to help keep things organized will be extremely helpful to the patient.

The bottom line

The bottom line is that you should remember a few things... depending on your relationship with the patient, your gift(s) and interaction should reflect your concern. If it is a work colleague, you may want to protect their privacy. In that case, a one time card/note with kind words and maybe a floral arrangement will be sufficient. If it is your best friend since forever... constant contact may be more appropriate. Regular get well soon cards, or thinking of you notes... regular phone calls and visits may be more in line with your close relationship. You just want to let this person know that you care and that you want to help. Just because it has a pink ribbon doesn't mean that she will like it -- or that she should. Give the gift from your heart... and all should be fine.

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