Gift Basket Ideas for a Cancer Patient

Someone you care about has cancer, and you'd like to give them a gift basket. But did you know that some common gift basket items are a big no-no for cancer patients, while some things you might not have thought of would be hugely appreciated? Get the inside perspective with this article written by a cancer survivor.

Gift baskets can make great presents. Each one is unique, they offer variety and creativity, and you can personalize the gift to the specific person you're gifting to. All reasons to craft your basket by hand rather than buying one pre-made.

This is especially important when giving to someone going through cancer treatment this holiday season.

Many of the pre-made baskets found in stores contain food or "spa" packages with scented lotions and candles. For cancer patients, chemotherapy and radiation treatments can alter their sense of smell, meaning their favorite perfume or candle may become unbearable and even cause nausea.

Similarly, treatment can change taste buds or even cause mouth sores, meaning your friend who used to love eating sea salt caramels might not want to even see them this Christmas. Some patients are put on dietary restrictions so gifting them something they aren't allowed to eat is just torture.

It can be difficult to know what is okay to gift to someone with cancer. How would you know, unless you've been through it before or you specifically ask? This Christmas use this post, inspired by mesothelioma advocate Heather Von St. James, as your guide for creating the perfect gift basket for your loved one who is in treatment during the holidays.

Heather was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the lungs, on November 21, 2005, just a few days before Thanksgiving. That December was very different for Heather and her family. She spent the holidays filled with uncertainty and fear rather than full of Christmas spirit. She then went into surgery in February for the removal of her left lung.

To brighten her days, well-intentioned friends and family brought her foods, flowers, and coffee and tea, none of which she was able to enjoy. Though grateful for the kindness of any gift, the gifts that meant the most to Heather were ones that were geared toward her as a person rather her illness. I can happily report that Heather is now an 11 year survivor!

As an advocate for mesothelioma patients, caregivers, and prevention of the cancer, Heather shares her story in order to prevent other families from having to go through what she did. If you have a friend or loved one facing cancer, use one of the examples below this Christmas, and always remember your presence, positivity, and laughter is the best gift you can ever give!

Spa Day Gift Basket

Pamper your friend with a basket full of unscented lotions (because cancer patience can have an altered sense of smell), lip balms, a plush bathrobe and slippers, and a back scratcher or massager. Throw in a CD of relaxing music and noises or create your own playlist.

Entertainment and Enjoyment Gift Basket

Cancer treatment can take a toll on patients physically, mentally, and emotionally. Provide distraction and entertainment with a basket filled with fun items like books (or a subscription to audiobooks is even better!), mad libs, board games or cards to play with the family, tickets to a local museum, sports game, movie theater, etc.

Keep The Faith Gift Basket

A cancer diagnosis can also test one's faith. This gift basket is not for everyone, but if your loved one is spiritual give them a basket with the scripture, poems, beautiful photos, and even a disc of or online subscription to sermons. You can offer to pray with them as a nice gesture.

For the Kids Gift Basket

While focusing their energy on beating cancer, there might not be as much energy to watch after the kids, especially if they have young children. Create a basket filled with toys for the kids with the offer to watch them one day a week. Eg. Play-doh, toy cars, dress up clothes, hats and wands, a play kitchen set, etc.

During your Treatment Gift Basket

Include items to help your loved one through their treatment. A journal and pen set will be useful to record how they are feeling, track progress, side effects and improvements, and a place to vent and let out some emotion. Add in an inspirational book like the The New York Time's Picture Your Life After Cancer, Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture, or Tari Prinster's Yoga For Cancer, and a gift card to a local pharmacy for daily essentials like tissues and unscented lotion.

Treatment Travel Gift Basket

Many patients have to travel quite far for treatment at specialized cancer medical centers. This means many hotels, flights or long drives, and time in waiting rooms. Fill a gift basket with traveling essentials like mini unscented soaps, toothbrush and toothpaste, a portable charger, good magazines and books.

Good for... Jar

Your loved one might be most appreciative of something that isn't even a physical item. Fill a jar with "good for" notes, that include offers to cook dinner, do the laundry, shovel the driveway, walk the dog, watch the kids, and more.

Gift Card Bucket

Collaborate on this basket with a few friends as it might get a little pricey. Fill a bucket with various gift cards to help with the expenses that cancer can incur. Eg. Gas cards, grocery store cards, pharmacy cards, movie theater cards, handwritten "card" offering to pay a monthly bill, gift cards to their favorite store, etc.

I hope you found these ideas useful! Please leave a comment below, or click here to read more about Heather's story.


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