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 second-most common question I get is, "What are some good gift ideas for cancer patients?"
I love getting this question because it means there are caring friends and family who want to support a loved one facing cancer. Support is essential to a cancer patient. Seriously—the fact you care enough to ask about finding a meaningful gift will help them feel loved.
So what is a good, meaningful gift? There are lots! Below are 50 gift ideas (my favorites over the years) that you could give individually OR bundle into a care package. Whatever you decide to do, I'm sure it will be great!
Gifts for cancer patients: 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. Try a pothos or a peace lily for hard-to-kill 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.
3. Coffee mug and bags of coffee grounds/beans or tea
Every year or two I have to weed out my coffee cup collection because they make popular gifts for cancer patients, but they're also really meaningful ways for my friends to send encouragement. 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 encouraging notes and verses written on the side. A hot cup of coffee or tea is an affordable way to send someone some love.
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.
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 may be the perfect way to perk them up (especially if they 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.
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!
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.
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. For your high-tech friends, help them set up smart home technology so they can avoid getting up so much. You can connect things like Alexa smart plugs, TV remotes and Ring doorbells to smart phone apps. This is especially great for those who are recovering from surgery or patients who live alone. Give them one fewer reason to get up!
(Bonus: If they have colon cancer, buy them some really nice, soft toilet paper)
Cancer gifts: Help their family
12. Gift cards 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 friend. Send a gift card, or you can also send food as a gift. It's a wonderful thing.
13. Gift cards to grocery stores
Do you see a food theme here? Food is a great way to help 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.
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.
15. House cleaning
A clean house is a happy house, and it's also critical for a cancer patient. Especially if your friend is on 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. Especially if money is tight, or you're not a great cook, don't underestimate the value of your time and acts of service.
(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 caregivers!)
Gifts for cancer patients: Entertainment During Treatment
17. A tote
If a cancer patient is getting treatment, it's likely that they're taking magazines, books, a tablet, and more 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 your friend 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 among 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 comfort to a 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!
If you're super generous (and well off!), 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 a must-have for treatment these days and they make great gifts for cancer patients!
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 hard candies to take along with them. This comes in handy during surgery recovery and treatment.
Apparel and personal care
24. Cancer-specific gear
Buy gear from a non-profit that is devoted to their cancer type. Oftentimes, these groups sell swag that make perfect gifts for cancer patients: T-shirts, hats, mugs and more. This swag usually contains messages pertaining specifically to colon cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, etc.
25. Inspirational T-shirts
There's 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.
27. Lounge wear
Find 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.
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.
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.
31. Safe beauty products
Along the lines of the 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!) 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 somone with cancer, especially if you put a handwritten note on the inside cover. Another idea is to highlight Bible verses about hope and healing.
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). 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.
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 mugs, 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.
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.
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 for Cancer Patients
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.
42. Send them a Medal of Hope
My friend Teri founded Powered by Hope and she came up with this awesome idea! Get your strong champion a medal to recognize and honor their cancer fight. This is a great cancer gift!
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! 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. And/or, you could write reasons you love them and why you're fighting for them. Photos can make great gifts for cancer patients.
45. Line up a photo shoot
Line up a photographer to capture shots of the 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.
46. Support survivor artists!
Find paintings, books, photographs, artwork, etc. done 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.
47. Do a walk/run in their honor
Many cancer non-profits 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.
48. Patient resources
Many non-profits 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)
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 non-profit they've received a lot of support from, or a specific place they'd want your funds to go.
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!
MONDAY MORNING SURVIVAL GUIDE
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