Great things to give a chemo patient?
December 1, 2009 11:40 AM   Subscribe

Need ideas for comforting / useful items to give a person undergoing intense chemotherapy (x2).

Two of my co-worker's wives have cancer and are being treated with chemo. Several of us would like to show our support and send them each a gift to let them know we're thinking of them. Unfortunately (or, more correctly, fortunately) none of us has had the experience of being closely tied to a chemo patient so we're not sure what would be most appreciated, under the circumstances.

Assume that the recipients are both female (of course...), middle aged, having chemo treatments several times a week. We don't personally know, and have never met, the wives in question but we are fond of the husbands and we'd like to make them happy by cheering the wives up.

Let's say the overal budget per wife is $40-50.
posted by contessa to Shopping (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
A gift basket with a beautiful scarf, organic lip balm, a pair of fluffy slippers and something sweet. All necessary items and very thoughtful.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:45 AM on December 1, 2009

A nice meal for the whole family. The patient might not want to eat but the thought would be good and the sick wife would appreciate it even if she doesn't fell like eating.

Don't send flowers, because chemo can make some people react badly to flowers.

Audio books can be nice.
posted by charlesminus at 12:13 PM on December 1, 2009

A special pillow and/or quilt. A young person I know was given a pretty pillow as she went through intense medical issues. She took it to the hospital and on appointments. She hugged it when in pain. She used it sitting in not so comfy chemo chairs and exam tables. It seemed to give her comfort both physically and emotionally.

An older person I know had a quilt given to her with a set fabric pens. She took it on hospital stays and chemo visits. It kept her warm and cozy, and she had people that took care of her write messages on the quilt. Visitors also wrote on it. It became a sort of journal of her trip through the illness, and really meant a lot to her.

It is also important to remember the spouse who will be going through a lot as well. Books on CDs can be something they both listen to while they do a lot of waiting for treatments.

Wishing them a quick recovery.
posted by maxg94 at 12:17 PM on December 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

My aunt found candied ginger very helpful during chemo. They make some really fancy versions now.
posted by eleanna at 12:25 PM on December 1, 2009

I've heard that the much-hyped miracle fruit (actual fruits or in tablet form) have shown potential for temporarily overcoming the "metal mouth" side-effect of chemo, and just sent some to a family member in the middle of treatment. (No reports back yet.)
posted by holgate at 12:34 PM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've never been through anything as drastic as chemo, but when I was in the hospital the best things to get were really comfy socks, lip balm, clean and comfy lounge pajama pants (or sweatpants - focus on a loose elastic waist) and soft t shirts, and sweets i missed from home. I was also very grateful when my boyfriend brought me dvds and cds. A small boombox or mp3 player may be nice because the hospital room i was in (which was oddly enough in the cancer ward) was not equipped with anything to listen to music on. you can probably find deals on boomboxes for $20 or so nowadays.
posted by WeekendJen at 12:58 PM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

A fleece hat.
posted by chrillsicka at 1:15 PM on December 1, 2009

If you think this isn't a cheesy gift for the patient (if you know them), my friend gave me this cute stuffed sheep from Warm Buddies that has a removable pouch for a heating pad. They also have non-stuffed-animal options. I agree with the poster above who suggests something as a comfort item, but this is also nice for aching/cold body parts.

There are any number of nice head coverings out there, which will be even more necessary now that it's winter. They may not lose their hair immediately, if at all, but a stylish yet comfortable hat will be appreciated for those days when they might just want to keep a low profile.

On that same note, if you make or purchase a knit/crocheted hat, find the softest material you can, and perhaps stay away from acrylic yarns. If there are things that don't look super-obviously-chemo-cap-y, that might be good too.

Be mindful of heavy scents or flavorings for their extra-sensitive senses.

Finally, offers of child care/meals/rides to and from appointments are always helpful, and a lower-cost way of showing you care.
posted by Madamina at 1:33 PM on December 1, 2009

Soft socks, good lotion for hands and feet (my best buddy's hands and feet were inflamed and peeled from the chemo so lotion helped). Also, consider a gift certificate to Jamba Juice or something equivalent in your area. The citrus flavor smoothies were about the only thing she could taste; you can get extra protein powder or vitamin c or such added to them for an additional boost. I've been wanting to take a look at the "What to Eat When You Have Cancer" cookbook, there may be treats or meals in there you can make for them.
posted by Allee Katze at 2:06 PM on December 1, 2009

I just checked out a cookbook called "One Bite at a Time: Nourishing recipes for cancer survivors and their friends" (2nd ed.), by Rebecca Katz. It's for caregivers of cancer patients. I'm not enough of a cook to tell if it's a good cookbook, but Amazon gives high marks to both editions of the book.
posted by bentley at 5:40 PM on December 1, 2009

Seconding the lotion -- the stuff from Kiehls is expensive but worth it. The warm, soft clothes are also great ideas.

The "What to Eat W/Cancer" books are good, especially the one that just came out from the American Cancer Society. Rebecca Katz' "Cancer Fighting Kitchen" is good as well.

Though these are small, the three things that made chemo a lot more bearable for me were gum, those Edy's fruit bar/popsicle things and carbonated/sparkling water.

A subscription to Netflix would also be nice. Lastly, something as simple as offering to run errands would probably be appreciated as there are times when they might not be able to leave the house due to low white counts. Even if their counts are fine, they'll still have periods of being weak and tired. And the caregivers/spouses will certainly appreciate the support.
posted by Atom12 at 4:52 AM on December 2, 2009

If their cancer center has pay parking, a parking pass is a wonderful gift they will mentally thank you for everytime they use it. Cancer care is expensive and helping off-set the little additional expenses like parking can be a really excellent and thoughtful gift.
posted by dog food sugar at 4:22 PM on December 7, 2009

Response by poster: A rather large bag of goodies has been assembled for each woman; we are giving them to our co-workers today. I'll update later with a list of what we got!!
posted by contessa at 7:02 AM on December 9, 2009

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