7 Gifts to Get Someone Who Was Just Diagnosed With Cancer
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So you just heard your loved one say those three little words: “I have cancer.” As much as you love and support your friend or family member, it can still be incredibly difficult to know what to do or say in response. That’s why many people opt to get their loved on a gift — something that conveys their support without resorting to cliches like, “You’ll get through this!” or “Stay strong!”
Still, it can also be hard to know what type of gift someone just diagnosed with cancer would appreciate. There are a number of gifts that would not be great to give someone with cancer, like scented lotions or sad movies and books, so this is a situation when you really do want to get this right. Everyone’s different, and what one person wants isn’t necessarily what someone else might want, but we wanted to know what people who have experienced cancer would prefer to receive. So, we asked our Mighty community to share their recommendations.
You’ll notice these gifts all have one thing in common: They’re specific. Don’t just say, “Let me know what you need” and disappear. Think of something tangible you can do or give that would help make their day easier and really show that you’re thinking about what they might need during this stressful time.
Here’s what our Mighty community recommended:
1. Comfortable, Cozy Clothes
Your friend likely has some uncomfortable days ahead of them, so help keep them as cozy as possible with a soft pair of socks, blanket, pajamas or robe. You could even find out (if you don’t already know) what colors, designs or themes they like best before buying, so you can be sure the comfort item will bring a smile to their face.
Amy R. recommended “a gift of comfort such as a robe, [or] a gift of warmth such as fuzzy, warm socks.”
“My most useful gifts were warm blankets and fuzzy socks. It gets cold in chemo wards! But support is really the best thing to give, it’s what we need most,” Christie A. said.
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2. Practical Gift Cards
Everyone knows cancer treatments are expensive, but it’s easy to forget that medical costs aren’t the only expenses a person with cancer has to deal with. Your loved one also have to contend with the cost of transportation to and from appointments, perhaps a loss of income if they aren’t able to keep working, and ordering in if cooking is a challenge. These expenses can add up, so consider helping them out with these miscellaneous bills.
“Gift cards for gas, restaurants, or hotel accommodation for their treatments. Those are all not covered by insurance and that’s how they suffer more financially,” Bam K. suggested.
“Financial support: sponsoring a power bill, phone bill, cable bill transportation,” Nicole O. recommended.
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3. Babysit Their Kids
Immediately following their diagnosis, your friend likely has calls to make, emails to send, and plans to set in motion — all of which can be difficult if they have kids to take care of, too. See if they’d appreciate you babysitting for a few hours, to give them time to process their diagnosis alone or with their partner. You could go over to their house or take the kids on a fun outing like to a park or movie. This gift could also extend beyond the immediate aftermath of a diagnosis — keep offering to watch the kids throughout their cancer treatment.
“If they have young children offer to take them for an afternoon so the person can tell and talk to adult members (parents, siblings, etc.) of her/his family,” Carol A. said.
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4. Something to Entertain Them
Whether your friend is waiting at the doctor’s office, recovering at the hospital, or just wants to take their mind off their health, they’ll need some easy forms of entertainment that don’t require a lot of energy or supplies. Help them stock up on books, movies, magazines, streaming TV subscriptions, smartphone games, video games, even craft supplies if they like activities such as knitting or drawing. You may not be able to help treat their physical symptoms, but you can help prevent boredom.
Amy R. suggested a good book or movie tickets.
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5. Offer to Do Some Household Chores
Everyday chores often fall by the wayside when you’re going through a serious illness. Who wants to use what little energy they have to wash dishes?! Take that stress out of your loved one’s day by offering up a specific chore you’re willing to do, like cleaning their bathroom, doing their laundry, dropping their kids off at school or running an errand like grocery shopping.
“Offer to do washing or cleaning or shopping. Things that if they did themselves would wipe them out. Just be there for real,” Fiona M. said.
“Willingness to do the small everyday things that become too much, like dishes or laundry, walking the dog, or running kids to sports practices,” Angelique G. recommended.
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6. Organize Their Friends to Help
Your friend might have lots of other friends who would like to help them but aren’t really sure what to do. You could be that one friend who wrangles everyone else. Create a sign-up sheet that allows everyone to donate their help or time and be the point-person everyone goes to with questions, so you don’t have to bother your sick friend. Being the organizer also removes this stressful task from their family, who is probably busy helping out in other ways.
“Take them to a treatment, or better yet organize their friends to help out. It would be so nice to have someone besides family organize help,” Cindy M. said.
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7. Offer to Go With Them to Doctor Appointments (or Just Hang Out)
You don’t need to spend any money at all on perhaps the most important gift you could give: your time. Offer to spend time with your loved one in any way they might need – you could go with them to an appointment, organize a weekly coffee date, or just stop by for an hourlong chat (call first before dropping by!). When people get cancer, sometimes friends don’t know how to react and end up pulling away, which is the last thing anyone coping with a serious health diagnosis needs. Your friend needs you now more than ever, so make an effort to see them, listen to them, and make sure they know you will always be there.
And don’t put the brakes on all the fun things you used to do. Keep texting those silly memes, inviting them to social events you’re planning and letting them know what’s happening in your life. Help them maintain a sense of normalcy, and remind them that your love for them hasn’t changed.
“[Give them] the gift of [your] presence… knowing someone is walking alongside you in this journey is priceless!” Frankie D. said.
“Your love, support, and your time. My mom passed away from cancer when I was 17 and I’m still sad to this day (I’m 21) that I didn’t spend more time with her when she was sick. Always make time for them because you never know how much time they have left,” Alyssa J. said.
“[Give them] your time. And your undivided attention,” Elizabeth V. said.
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For more insight into the best ways to support a loved one with cancer, check out these stories from our community: