Our guide to thoughtful gifts & ways to support someone going through cancer
When a friend, family member or loved one is diagnosed with cancer, it’s normal to be wondering how to support them through this difficult time. Often there can be a fear of saying or doing the wrong thing, but simply letting them know you’re there for them is a great place to start.
Read on for more ways to support them and discover our pick of thoughtful gift ideas for a chemo care package, if they’re undergoing chemotherapy as part of their treatment.
Check in with them regularly
One of the best gifts you can give to someone going through cancer is your time and emotional support, right through from their diagnosis to treatment and beyond. Cancer can be a very isolating experience, so whether it’s through messages, calls, voice notes or visits, maintaining regular contact with your friend or loved one can make a world of difference to how they’re feeling.
At the end of a conversation, it can be encouraging to tell them when you’ll next be in touch or visiting, so they know they can count on you for ongoing support. Try not to take it personally if they take longer than usual to respond or need to reschedule a visit. They may be feeling too tired and overwhelmed, so simply let them know you’re there for them when they’re ready.
Listen to their needs
Everyone’s cancer journey is different and only your friend or loved one will know how they’re truly feeling. Understandably, this can make it hard to know what to say in conversation. Why not try acknowledging that you’re unsure of what to say and ask them what they would like to talk about?
Whether they’d like to talk about their cancer or be distracted from it, then being a listening ear and showing empathy is a great way to provide support. Sometimes they may not be up to conversation at all, but just being there for them, even in silence, can be a source of comfort.
Be mindful that they may not want to receive advice or be told that “everything will be fine”. Respecting their feelings and letting them express their emotions and needs however they want can go a long way in helping them feel more at ease.
Offer to help with everyday tasks or errands
Offering practical support with errands could help make your friend or loved one’s life a little easier when they have cancer. Everyone’s situation is different, and not everyone will want to accept offers of help, so start by checking if they need any support and asking what they would find most helpful before going ahead. If you, or they, are stuck for ideas, here are some examples of ways you could support:
• Offer to do their weekly shop
• Help with chores such as laundry, cleaning and gardening
• Cook them a meal (make sure to check dietary requirements beforehand as cancer and chemotherapy can affect appetite)
• Support their family: you could offer to pick up their children from school, babysit or look after their pet
• Offer to drive them to appointments
• Run errands such as dropping things off at the post office and picking up prescriptions
If there are a lot of tasks or errands that they’d like help with, then it could be worth setting up a rota between friends and family to share them out evenly.
Gift ideas for a chemo care hamper
If your friend or loved one is undergoing chemotherapy as part of their treatment, then small and practical gifts can be a great way to show your support, offer a distraction from treatment or help them feel more comfortable during a session. Here are our pick of gift ideas for a chemo care package.
The White Collection Eye Mask – front: 100% polyester; back: 100% polyester
Fatigue is a common side effect of chemotherapy and your loved one may like to try dozing off during their sessions. This fluffy eye mask with a soft satin back could be just what they need to help block out their surroundings without irritating the delicate skin around their eyes. Or they could use it at home to create a relaxing sleep environment for some much-needed shut-eye.
Headspace Mind Giftcard – 6 Months’ Pre-Paid Membership
Gift them some time to themselves and space to help process their emotions with a membership to this popular meditation app. There’s a whole host of guided meditations, relaxing playlists, videos and soundscapes that may help distract them during their treatment and whenever they need a moment of calm.
Boots Duo Pink Washbag Set – Clear & Fabric
Chemotherapy sessions can often last a long time so your loved one may find it helpful to take along a set of essentials like toiletries and cosmetics to help them feel fresh. This set includes a large, clear washbag and a small pink fabric bag, ideal for storing their products.
Galaxy Vegan Crumbled Cookie Chocolate Bar
Complete their care package with a comforting chocolate treat for them to enjoy. They can indulge in the delicious blend of rich cocoa and cookie crumble pieces. Chemotherapy can affect tastebuds and cause nausea, so we recommend checking if your loved one has any dietary preferences or requirements before gifting food.
Finally, it’s important to be kind to yourself, too. Supporting someone through cancer is an emotional journey and it’s normal to find this situation difficult. Above all, doing your best and being there for your friend or loved one in whatever way you can is what counts the most.