When a friend or loved one is diagnosed with cancer, you may want to show care and concern for them in many ways — notes of encouragement, a helping hand, or even a well-considered care package. These care packages can be helpful and special to people going through cancer treatment.
You can tailor a cancer care package to the intended recipient. This will help best meet their needs and personal preferences. You might also select certain care package items based on the type of cancer they have or the type of treatment they are receiving.
For example, a person receiving chemotherapy may need a warm hat or a gift certificate to a wig store. A person undergoing surgery may appreciate elasticized pants or a gift certificate for a house cleaner.
Consider these items below as you build out a gift or care package for someone who has cancer or is undergoing treatment.
Hospitals and medical facilities are not spas by any measure, but you can provide a little moment of comfort, and a practical gift of moisture, with chapstick, face and body lotions, or moisturizing creams. Radiation and chemotherapy can dry out skin, so these products can be a welcome relief.
Go ahead and include some hand sanitizer, too. The hospital probably has some, but your loved one may need small bottles to carry with them to appointments, stores, or restaurants. They may also appreciate a large bottle to keep on hand at home so that visitors can quickly sanitize their hands.
A pack of well-fitting masks may also come in handy. Many hospitals still require people to wear masks during treatment, and it’s important to avoid reusing disposable masks.
During long waits for appointments or infusions at the hospital, they will appreciate anything that keeps them busy or entertained. Great care package gifts include:
- adult coloring books and pens or pencils
- journals so they can doodle or take notes
- a list of movies, TV shows, audiobooks, or podcasts to watch or listen to during treatment
- an extra charger to keep in their bag
- a new book by a favorite author
- comfortable headphones so they can listen to a phone or tablet while in treatment
- travel-sized games to play alone or with someone else
Long hours at the hospital or in bed may prevent your friend from getting the snacks they crave, so make sure they’re well-stocked. Include single-sized packs of crackers or popcorn, fruit snacks, and granola or nut bars.
Give them a few packs of hard candy or lozenges, too. Chemotherapy can cause unusual metallic tastes in the mouth. Candies or gums can help eliminate that taste.
Some special lozenges may even help with other side effects of treatment, like ginger chews, which may help ease nausea.
Hospital rooms and infusion rooms can be quite cold. Plus, it’s not uncommon for people undergoing chemotherapy to develop nerve damage in their feet.
Keep them warm with fleece socks or slippers. Look for ones that have rubberized bottoms so that they can safely walk about when necessary.
Just as feet need warmth, so does the rest of the body. A lap blanket is a welcome gift for home, the hospital, or in the car on the way to treatments. Reduced red blood cell counts, a common side effect of cancer treatment, can make a person feel cold, so a warm blanket can keep them feeling cozy.
A zip-front hooded sweatshirt may be a great care package gift for someone with cancer. This way, they can stay warm, but they can also unzip the hoodie when doctors or nurses need easy access to medical ports.
Elasticized joggers or other loose-fitting pants can be comfortable for long hours of sitting, or when someone avoids tight pants after surgery. Fleece sweatpants can also be warming and cozy. Some people may even enjoy having pajama sets for their hospital stays.
The last thing anyone wants to do after a long day at the hospital or appointments is take out the trash or shovel sidewalks. During this time, practical support can mean a lot to people undergoing cancer treatment. This may include:
- gift cards for restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, or grocery delivery companies
- yard services, like mowing or watering
- house-cleaning services
- child- or pet-sitting services
- home-cooked meals or ready-to-eat meals that a person can freeze or refrigerate and eat later
In addition to providing warmth in a cold hospital, heating pads can help alleviate discomfort. A person undergoing treatment may appreciate having one to ease aches after a long day of sitting or when recovering from surgery. If electricity access is uncertain, opt for a microwaveable rice pack, which they can use for hot or cold therapy.
The bright lights of an infusion or treatment room aren’t the best for sneaking a quick nap. But a sleep mask can help someone shut out the world for just a few minutes.
Alternatively, it may just be nice to use when the bright lights are a bit overwhelming or their eyes are sensitive to the light.
Cancer treatment and recovery require a great deal of courage and strength. Often, too, a person may be alone for hours at a time, away from the support of friends and family. If it feels appropriate, include a book of encouragements or devotionals in a cancer care package.
Alternatively, ask friends and family members to write notes of well-wishes and support to their friend and loved one, and collect them all in a photo album or memento book. Their loved one can turn to these notes time and time again for support and a sense of home.
When planning a care package for a friend or loved one with cancer, remember that it truly is the thought that counts. Do what feels right for your budget and your loved one’s needs. Showing support can be one of the most powerful gifts for someone going through cancer treatment.