Looking for gifts for cancer patients? Look no further! Outside of being asked about the symptoms I experienced prior to being diagnosed with colon cancer, the other questions I get most often are, "What are some good gifts ideas for cancer patients?" "What's a good cancer survivor gift?" and "What to get someone going through chemo?"
I love getting these questions because it means there are caring friends and family who want to support a loved one facing cancer. Support is essential to cancer survivors. Seriously—the fact you care enough to search for a meaningful gift says a lot about you and how much you care about them.
So what is a good, inspirational gift for a cancer survivor? There are lots! Below are 50 ideas (my favorites over the years) that you could give individually OR bundle into a care package. These are ideas for both patients who are going through chemotherapy and patients who are cancer free. Whatever you decide to do, I'm sure it will be great!
Around the house
1. Hard-to-kill house plant
My grandma sent me a plant after colon surgery more than 10 years ago, and it's still alive today. Plants have a way of perking up our spirits, and they add freshness and greenery into spaces. We can't control much as cancer survivors, but we can control how often we water our plants. Try a pothos or a peace lily for hard-to-kill, easy-to-grow (and keep alive!) varieties.
2. Framed saying or wall art with encouraging words, verses or quotes
I love artwork with meaning, especially if it's infused with emotion. Posters saying things like "Be Brave" or "Take Courage" are not only inspirational, but they can really help cancer survivors keep going. Comforting words for someone with cancer can be really encouraging.
3. Coffee mug and bags of coffee grounds/beans or tea
Every year or two, I weed out my coffee cup collection because they make popular gifts. But, these gifts are meaningful ways for my friends to send me encouragement as a cancer survivor. I'll sit in a comfortable place with a blanket and hot cup of tea, and it will bring warmth to my dark days.
On occasion, in lieu of a reusable mug, I've received plastic or paper cups with inspiring notes and verses written on the side. Dropping off a hot cup of coffee or tea is an easy, affordable way to send the cancer survivor you love some encouragement for $8 or less.
4. Safe cleaning products (Like Seventh Generation or Young Living)
After a cancer diagnosis, it's common for patients to feel afraid and take inventory of their lives. Products we put on our bodies and use to clean our homes often come under the microscope. Show your friend that you're aware they could be considering the chemicals in his/her house and looking for ways to reduce them by buying a few supplies that contain fewer toxins. This is an especially good gift for someone going through chemotherapy.
5. Collectables that made you think of them (bonus points if they already collect the series)
Angel tree figurines. Football cards. Pop figurines. Stuffed animals. There's a lot of fun collectables out there, and sending one to your friend who was diagnosed with cancer may be the perfect way to perk them up (especially if they already collect them).
6. Cancer-Fighting Recipes
There's a slew of great cookbooks for cancer patients and websites like Cook For Your Life that are dedicated to helping families facing cancer find healthy recipes. A great gift for cancer patients is not only helping feed them, but helping them learn how to feed themselves!
7. Bird feeder and seed
Cancer isn't only physical, it's mental too. Filling a bird feeder with seed so your friend can enjoy bird watching out the window is one way to help bring calmness and peace into anxiety-filled days. It can be a comforting gift for a cancer survivor.
8. Gift cards to an online streaming service
Cancer is a lot to deal with but honestly, it can also be boring. Thank goodness for social media and streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime and others (and I'm sure more are coming!) These services offer gift cards; send one to help keep their favorite subscriptions going or introduce them to new shows that will make them laugh and smile.
Did you know that smell is one of the most powerful senses? Personally, candles are one of my favorite gifts to receive. Something about the glow and crackle from a burning wick and the soft aroma of a lightly scented candle quiets my soul. Candles make comforting gifts.
10. Essential oils and a diffuser
Like candles, essential oils can help de-stress and lighten moods. Some patients testify to oils bringing physical benefits too. Help a cancer patient create a calm atmosphere by gifting a diffuser and great smelling oils.
11. Smart home technology
Cancer is physically exhausting. If you're techy, help your friend set up smart home technology so they can avoid getting up so much. This is especially a good gift for someone who just had surgery or those who live alone. Give them one fewer reason to get up.
You can connect all kinds of things to be managed from your smart phone or voice-activated device (like Alexa): smart plugs for the lights, TV remotes, HVAC controls, ovens, Ring doorbells and more.
(Bonus: If they have colon cancer, gift them some really nice, soft toilet paper like Charmin Soft.)
Cancer survivor gifts: Help their family
12. Gift certificate for food delivery apps
Apps like Door Dash, Grub Hub and Uber Eats are fulfilling dreams we didn't even know we had. Because of COVID-19, almost all restaurants (locally owned and chains) are now set up with one of these services. All of these food delivery apps offer gift cards that you can email or text a cancer survivor and their caregiver. Send a gift card, or you can also set up an order for food and send it as a gift. This is really nice to have when you're facing a difficult time.
13. Gift cards to grocery stores
Do you see a food theme here? Food is a great gift someone who is sick, and it's a gift that benefits everyone in the home. If you want your dollars to go a little further, get a gift card to a local grocery store or a grocery service like Instacart. Apps like Instacart and Walmart will also let you place and order and indicate it's a gift to be delivered to someone else. Groceries are nice because if there's any diet restrictions or post-surgery nutrition needs, they can order what works for them.
14. Drop off a home-cooked meal
While gift cards are handy because they give a cancer patient control over what and when to order, home-cooked meals are also wonderful gifts that cannot be beat. These meals are often extremely yummy, plus, they're made with love. Because the drop-off usually comes with a smile, hug and extra love, this is a gift that must not be overlooked. Or, if you don't have time for a home-cooked meal, send some freezer meals to someone you know is having surgery or could use a quick, homemade dinner.
15. House cleaning
A clean house is a happy house, and it's also critical for a patient going through cancer treatment. Help eliminate germs and grime at their place. You can offer to clean the house yourself or send in a team of cleaners. Just be aware of the products being used and any specifications on chemicals and toxins your loved one may have.
16. House chores
Mow the lawn. Take the recycling to the center. Pick up dry cleaning. Roll the trash to the curb. By helping with even the small house chores, you can be a huge blessing to a cancer patient, and especially someone going through chemo. If money is tight, or you're not a great cook, don't underestimate the value of your time and acts of service. This is also nice if you're struggling finding the right words. Acts of service mean a lot.
(Honestly: Anything you can do to help alleviate, support and love on the caregiver will be much appreciated. Gifts for cancer patients can also be gifts for cancer caregivers!)
What to get someone going through chemotherapy
17. A tote
If a patient is getting cancer treatments, it's likely that they're taking magazines, books, a tablet, and more items to entertain themselves to the chemo room. Get them a "chemo tote" so they can keep all of their materials in one place and it's easy to grab as they walk out the door. Totes are great gifts for women fighting cancer, and men too!
18. Puzzle books
To offer an alternative to screen time, consider buying a cancer patient crosswords, word search and sudoku books—especially if they're a word nerd!
Reading is a great way to pass the time, both when you're receiving treatment and when you're recovering. But, before you buy someone books to read, make sure you know if they're into fiction or non-fiction. Also, you could order them a copy of Blush (shameless plug for my memoir!). Radical Remission is also a popular book in cancer survivor circles right now.
20. Weighted blanket
Something about snuggling up with a little extra weight can relieve anxiety, and this could be a great gift to comfort a cancer patient, both at home and while in the hospital.
Along the lines of considering ways to give a "screen time break," stock them up with magazines that fit their interests and hobbies! Get them magazines they'd never buy for themselves. Cure Magazine is a good read for cancer patients! For colon cancer survivors, make sure they subscribe to Beyond Blue (it's free!) If you're a breast cancer survivor, check out Breast Cancer Wellness.
If you're super generous (and money is no object), buy a cancer patient a tablet if they don't already own one. A portable electronic like this allows them to check email, get on social, read eBooks, send pictures/videos and play games. Tablets are great gift for people going through chemo treatments, a new iPad could be the perfect gift for a cancer patient!
23. Snacks and candy
First, check to make sure your friend hasn't cut out sugar (some cancer patients do.) But, if they're still indulging on sweet treats every now and again, load them up with some candies to take along with them. This comes in handy during surgery recovery and treatment. Let's be real: Everyone loves a sweet treat now and again.
Apparel and personal care gift ideas
24. Cancer-specific gear
Buy gear from a nonprofit that is devoted to their cancer type. Oftentimes, cancer nonprofits sell swag that make perfect gifts for cancer patients: T-shirts, hats, mugs and more. The products usually contain messages pertaining specifically to the type of cancer they're fighting (like breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, etc.)
25. Inspirational T-shirts
There's also a slew of cancer survivor T-shirts online; many of them say things like SURVIVOR, COURAGEOUS, BRAVE or some other affirming message.
A necklace or bracelet with an inspirational or meaningful charm can be a really special memento to a cancer patient. It doesn't only bring joy in the moment, but it can be a keepsake and reminder of what they went through (and the strength they found) for a long time. The ribbon is a universal sign for cancer, but some cancers also have special symbols. (For example: the colon cancer community has the blue star.) Each cancer also has a cancer ribbon color, and gifts incorporating that color can also be meaningful.
27. Lounge wear
Get your friend super soft, comfortable, loose-fitting PJ pants or shorts. These come in handy both at the hospital and at home. Find loose-fitting pants if they're facing abdominal surgery.
Check out KickIt hospital pajamas and gowns (and their other comfy products), which were designed specifically for females going through surgery and recovery.
28. Fuzzy, soft socks
Soft, colorful socks can be an inexpensive, thoughtful way to show someone love and brighten up their way. These are things we rarely buy ourselves, but they make great gifts for cancer survivors.
29. A nice, soft robe
Can you tell that soft clothing is a theme for gifts for cancer patients? Robes come in handy when you're in the hospital or at home recovering.
30. Manicure and pedicure
Pretty fingers and toes can turn a sad day into a happy day. You could do the manicure yourself, take them to the salon, or buy a gift card for some pampering when they're up for it. Make sure to check and ask if their doctor will allow them to go into a public salon if you go that route. Some patients undergoing chemotherapy cannot get their nails done, and others may be on treatments that cause chemo rashes and peeling hands. But, when it's time for some pampering, this is always a fun option.
31. Safe beauty products
Along the lines of safe, chemical-free cleaning products, cancer patients may begin to scrutinize every product they use after a diagnosis. If they're concerned about beauty products, you could buy them Beauty Counter makeup (shop with my sister-in-law!) This makeup is safe from chemicals, and many survivors turn to it after a diagnosis. They offer mini sets that make great gifts for cancer surviving females.
You could also look into locally made soaps or other chemical-free, honest beauty brands.
Gifts for someone with cancer: Encourage their faith
32. New Bible
A Bible can be a really special gift for someone with cancer, especially if you put a handwritten note on the inside cover. Go the extra mile and highlight Bible verses about hope and healing. This will send a lot of possitive messages for cancer patients.
33. Worship songs
It's not as easy to gift music these days, but you can always get your friend a gift card to a streaming music service like Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music or Pandora (bonus points if you suggest a few great albums or make a playlist of songs for them). Or, if you are looking for a quick, free way to encourage them with music, send texts with links to YouTube videos with inspirational and encouraging songs. This is a free option that can mean a lot.
Sometimes patients need short, quick things to read that will inspire them and boost their faith. There's a devotional for everything these days—men, women, cancer patients, caregivers, dog lovers, chocolate lovers and more. One great devotional to consider is The Waiting Room and if it's Christmastime, check out my devotional, Unexpected.
35. Believe Big mug
Believe Big is an awesome organization that's not only helping cancer patients understand integrative therapies like mistletoe, but they're also one of the only non-profits I've found that focuses on faith for cancer patients too. Check out their inspirational mugs for cancer survivors, and actually, all of the gear in their store! It all makes good gifts for cancer patients.
36. Prayer shawl
This can be a really meaningful gift to a person of prayer. Read my friend Jamie's story about when he received a knitted prayer shawl after being diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer.
37. Blank journal and nice pens
Of course as a writer, I'm going to tell you to gift a cancer patient some writing tools! But this is a great gift because when inspiration hits, your friend will have everything they need to jot down some thoughts. This is also something that could be added to a gift basket for a cancer patient, along with some chemical-free hand lotion, candy and candles.
38. Gratitude journal
Gratitude journals are great for our mental health, and I think they're especially important for cancer patients. These journals can help patients find the good despite so much bad. I helped write this gratitude journal for Fight CRC if you're on the hunt for a free one or where to start. Also, check out my friend and fellow colon cancer survivor Bunny's coffee mugs and shirts that are all about gratitude.
This is a great gift if you're short on cash or you're looking for a way to show spiritual support. Print or write out a list of verses that you promise to pray over them and make a copy for you and your friend.
40. Prayer newsletters
Submit your friend's name to prayer newsletters and then get copies of them. Drop the copy in the mail and include a little note to show them others are praying for them. This small act of thoughtfulness can really mean a lot.
Creative and Unexpected Gifts
41. Personalized items
Oftentimes a cancer patient will have something that embodies their experience—a word, phrase, symbol, hashtag or verse—that they rally behind. A good way to discover this is to check their social media posts and hashtags (if they're on these outlets). If you can discover what's keeping them going and write it on a card, or get something made with it, it means the world.
Or, check this out: Quiltlove creates custom quilts. Get a group together to show a survivor you care. This can be a really personal and meaningful gift!
42. Send them a Medal of Hope
My friend Teri founded Powered by Hope and she came up with this awesome idea: giving medals of hope! Gift your cancer surviving friend a medal to recognize and honor their cancer fight. This is a great cancer gift for both men and women, especially as they cross a finish line and finish treatment or a major cancer milestone.
43. Send a Friend stuffed animal care package
My friend Shaye sent me an adorable stuffed dog from Send a Friend after a hospital stay, and it was the cutest gift! From the fun blue box saying I had a new friend, to the snuggly stuffed animal inside, I felt so loved with this gift! It's great for all ages.
44. Photo nostalgia
Photos can spark memories that bring healing emotions. Make a Chatbooks with pictures of you and them (could be old or new) and write the memories in the margins or positive messages for cancer caregivers and survivors. And/or, you could write reasons you love them and why you're fighting for them. Photos make great patient gifts because it brings positive emotions and the joys of life.
45. Line up a photo shoot
Book a photographer to capture shots of the cancer patient by themselves. Or, arrange a family photo session or a friends session. Spend some time thinking (or asking) a cancer patient what would be the most meaningful moment(s) for them to capture and help make it happen. Include a friend or loved one.
46. Support cancer surviving artists
Find paintings, books, photographs, artwork, etc. created by people who have survived your friend's cancer type. This isn't only a meaningful gift for a cancer patient, but it will give the artists support and it will boost your friend's spirits when they see art done by people who give them hope that they too can survive. This can be a really thoughtful gift.
47. Do a walk/run in their honor
Many cancer nonprofits host physical activities as a way to fundraise. These can be walks/runs/swims/climbs and more. All of these events have ways for communities to rally around and celebrate a survivor. Trust me: it means the world to a cancer patient when friends and family come around them in this way. Lace up and join them for the event, and if you can't do that, donate to their team in their honor. A lot of the proceeds from advocacy organization events go toward cancer research.
48. Patient resources
Many nonprofits offer patient resources like guidebooks, pamphlets and blog posts with patient education. Order some of these printed items (or print out the online resources) and send them to your friend to show you care and you've been researching. A good place to start is Cancer Support Community.
(Bonus: If they have colon cancer, make sure they have The Guide in the Fight. The Breasties is a great starting place for breast cancer patients. PanCan is a go-to for pancreatic cancer. Zero for prostate cancer patients. Lungevity for lung cancer patients.)
49. Make a donation in their honor
Even if there's not a walk or run happening, making a donation in someone's honor is a really kind gesture. Especially if the organization does what the survivor is passionate about (awareness, advocacy and research are common activities), it shows that you're investing in the future in light of the survivor's present.
Before you donate, make sure to ask if there's a nonprofit they've received a lot of support from, or a specific place they'd want your funds to go. There's several organizations for each cancer type, make sure to support the one that's most meaningful to them.
50. Snail mail
Frequent notes and cards in the mailbox are always a welcomed encouragement; don't neglect this old school way of sending gifts to a cancer patient! Mail helps the cancer patient take things on day at a time. It doesn't have to cost more than a postage stamp, and it will send a message that they're loved.
You Can Survive This!
Get a devotion, prayer and journal prompt to help you face each week. Subscribe to the Monday Morning Survival Guide.