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 Socks – Size M/L, 99% polyester; 1% elastane

This pair of fluffy socks may help keep them comfortable during a chemotherapy session. It’s a small gesture that could help them feel cosy and warm. Or they could pop them on at home whenever they need to wind down and relax. 

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.  

The White Collection Blanket

• Dimensions: 135 x 200cm

• 100% polyester

No care package is complete without a super soft blanket and this one from The White Collection is too cosy to resist. It can prove useful for helping them keep warm during chemo sessions and is also a great size that’ll fit easily into their bag. It’s double-sided, making it perfect for some all-round cosy comfort.

Joules Insulated Water Bottle – 500ml

Chemotherapy can cause dehydration, so this insulated water bottle is the perfect choice to help them stay hydrated with a hot or cold drink to suit their taste. The pretty, floral pattern could help bring a touch of brightness to their day, too.  

Avène Cicalfate Restorative Lip Cream for Chapped, Cracked Lips

Lips may get dry during chemotherapy. This water-resistant lip balm is designed to help nourish, restore and protect delicate, cracked or chapped lips. The fast-absorbing formula instantly soothes lips for long-lasting results.    

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 Floral Box Bag

• With zip fastening

• Floral design

Often, chemotherapy sessions can last a long time, meaning some people find it useful to take along some essentials like toiletries to help them feel fresh. Make transporting their essentials easy with this floral box bag. Bright, colourful and with plenty of room, it’s ideal for storing all their belongings and it looks great too!

Friends Cookie Jar

• Dishwasher safe

• May contain traces of soybeans, eggs, sesame seeds, peanuts and treenuts

The perfect finishing touch to a gift hamper? Something sweet of course! This cookie jar is not only great for those who are a fan-favourite of the show, but it also comes with a pack of chocolate chip cookies to satisfy their snack cravings. We recommend checking if your loved one has any dietary preferences or requirements before gifting food as chemotherapy can affect tastebuds.

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.