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Choosing the perfect gift for someone with cancer

Our guide to choosing the perfect gift for someone with cancer

When someone they care for is sick, most people want to send a gift to show they are thinking of them. However, it can be very difficult to know what to send if they haven’t been through cancer themselves. This guide will hopefully provide a few pointers and suggestions. 


Flowers are lovely, but tend to be the first thing that people think of when someone is sick, so the result can often be an overwhelming number. Why not send a thoughtful gift that will stand out from all of the flowers and last longer?

Practical gifts are greatly appreciated…

A care package full of useful items is always a hit! Suggestions include headwear, puzzle and colouring books to keep minds busy and entertained, button-front pyjamas, things to help with nausea, an eyemask and earplugs for hospital stays and natural toiletries to help protect skin and nails. Click here for more inspiration.

…as are little treats

Treats to lift the spirits will also go down well. Unfortunately many of our usual treats may not be appropriate during treatment. As immune systems are hit by chemo, many cancer patients will avoid crowded places such as cinemas and theatres, most spas wont treat people going through treatment, and food may hold no pleasure due to nausea and altered taste. However, we may spend more time cosied up at home as we recover from surgery or our latest treatment session, so cosy, home comforts and pampering gifts are much appreciated. Think pretty loungewear, cosy hot water bottles, a natural bath oil, magazines and candles.

Avoid anything too clinical

It might be really useful to have a thermometer, a puke bucket or a family-size tub of E45, but we get enough of the clinical stuff with our constant hospital appointments. Something to take our minds off this and make us feel more 'normal' is much more appreciated.

Be aware of ingredients

Some cancer patients are advised to or opt to avoid certain ingredients. They may choose to cut sugar and/or dairy out of their diet, meaning edible treats such as cakes, chocolates and candy may go to waste. Similarly with pampering treats, many cancer patients prefer more natural toiletries that don’t contain nasties such as parabens and SLS. They may also find strong fragrances nauseating and there are some essential oils that re best avoided during treatment. So if you are selecting some body and bath treats, natural and organic is probably best. We have 2 ranges specifically formulated for cancer patients. Please click here to view the full range of skincare products.

Cancer ribbons aren’t for everyone

Some people embrace the pink ribbon and even get tattoos as a mark of what they have been through, but others prefer not to draw attention to their illness and shy away from cancer ribbons, so, if in doubt, avoid gifts adorned with ribbons. If you want to support a charity, making a donation on their behalf is a safer bet.

It is probably safer to avoid comedy gifts

OK, if you're very close to the cancer patient, and you know for sure that they will find the gift funny, then go for it - anything to cheer us up is very welcome. However, if you're not sure, I would avoid it. Cancer is a serious illness and the emotional stress cannot be underestimated, even if they are presenting a brave face. You don't want to belittle their feelings with a gift that ends up upsetting them rather than making them laugh.

Be very careful with self-help books

There are thousands of cancer self-help books out there and many offer conflicting advice and opinions, leading to feelings of confusion and fear. Others unfortunately do not have a happy ending. So, if you want to send your friend some helpful books, ensure the message is encouraging and positive and that they don’t scaremonger. The patient will have researched diet and treatment options including alternative and holistic therapies and will have made informed decisions.

Speak from the heart

When choosing the words to accompany your gift, speak from heart. Try to avoid meaningless clichés and platitudes such as ‘you’ll be fine’ as it belittles our very real fears. There are some brilliant cards designed by cancer survivor Emily McDowell that help you find appropriate words when you might be struggling.

Remember that treatment goes on and on and on…

Show you care and are constantly thinking of them with a little gift or card to coincide with each treatment session. Many people send tokens of their well-wishes when someone is first diagnosed with an illness. However, as treatment goes on and on and can get harder and harder, it is lovely to receive little treats to provide a little boost and act as a reminder that someone is thinking of you and is rooting for you. We offer a bespoke gift subscription with a number of gifts to coincide with treatment regimes. Please click here to learn more.

Practical and emotional support is maybe the greatest gift

You don’t have to buy expensive gifts to show you care. Practical and emotional support is invaluable. Anything from helping with the school run, walking the dog, offering a lift to hospital to simply offering a sympathetic ear and a shoulder to cry on will show how much you truly care.

Previous article 5 Genuinely Useful Gifts To Give Someone Going Through Cancer Treatment

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