Cancer sucks
December 20, 2011 5:38 AM   Subscribe

Last week we found out that my mother has breast cancer. This isn't her first battle against cancer as she had colon cancer six years ago, and so far mom is being very matter of fact and strong. She is going in for surgery to remove it tomorrow and then will start the whole radiation/chemo regiment in the new year. Any good last minute, easy to find, supplimentary gift ideas for her?

I already got her:
- an amazon gift card (she reads endlessly on her Kindle)
- six months of Netflix (to watch while she convalesces)
- a fantastic old-timey honky bike horn (to honk when she needs someone to come help her or get her a cup of tea, rather than a little delicate bell).

I'm looking for small-ish things, nothing over 15$, that I can add in to these items to make a fun group of gifts that she will enjoy while she goes through this process. Mostly things that will provide distraction/amusement/etc for her.

- she is a (retired) physican, as is my father, so she already knows all about cancer and the kinds of things she is facing, so I'm not looking for books about breast cancer or anything like that
- my parents live twenty minutes from the nearest TOWN (and it is tiny) and a little over an hour from the nearest CITY (and it still isn't
- I don't want anything too schmaltzy or touchy feely, we aren't that kind of family. We cope with humour.
- She was supposed to have her knee(s) replaced early this coming January but of course now that has been put off, but it is still on the horizon, so gifts can relate to that as well.
posted by gwenlister to Shopping (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
How about some funny or cheerful fuzzy socks? And maybe some fingerless gloves? To keep her hands and feet warm but being whimsical at the same time.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:50 AM on December 20, 2011

posted by Segundus at 5:52 AM on December 20, 2011

Both my mother and aunt found herbal teas (specifically chamomile) quite helpful in dealing with the side effects of chemotherapy, and since you mentioned in your question that she's a tea drinker, maybe a gift pack or a subscription to a tea of the month club? Although I haven't checked them out personally, the tea guy lists a number of different places to subscribe to one.

On preview - just noticed your $15 limit, so a subscription might be out of the question, but many of those pages offer some excellent teas for purchase that she might like and that fall within that range.
posted by Rewind at 5:58 AM on December 20, 2011

An eye mask so she can block out light when she wants to sleep. That helped my boyfriend when he was suffering from brain cancer. Also, one of those pillows for your neck you buy for airplanes.
posted by vincele at 5:59 AM on December 20, 2011

Lollipops, or if you want to get cancer-specific, Queasy Pops. Socks with no-slip bottoms. A hat if she's going to be dealing with hair loss - one for warmth, not style.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:01 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Pajama tops that button up the front instead of the tshirt kind. My mom had a hell of a time raising her arms over her head after her surgery.
posted by teleri025 at 6:08 AM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

To go along with Marie Mon Dieu's idea, how about a fun cap to wear when she starts to lose her hair?
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:13 AM on December 20, 2011

Dang, hat already suggested. Ignore me!
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:14 AM on December 20, 2011

If the treatment hospital has paid parking sometimes you can buy parking lot or valet plastic gift cards.

If she's doing any treatments inpatient I've seen family members who were gifted at sewing put a zipper or buttons in the side (under the arm and down the side) of a comfy t-shirt so that the patient can take their shirt on and off around an IV line and not have to wear gaping hospital gowns.
posted by dog food sugar at 6:26 AM on December 20, 2011

Another idea is splurging on some nice hand lotion and hand sanitizer that doesn't smell so bad. You'll all be using a lot of both, especially the latter.

Personally I would hold off on head scarves and hats because different treatments cause different kinds of hair loss or none at all and she might not want to be reminded of what's to come by the presents you give her.
posted by vincele at 6:44 AM on December 20, 2011

Her skin may get quite dry, especially if she will need radiation, and since you deal with things using humor, she may get a kick out of this "Udderly Smooth" cream. It's fragrance free, so if she's feeling at all queasy, it shouldn't make things worse.
posted by cider at 6:52 AM on December 20, 2011

Anything she's been wanting you to do for years -- do it.
A certificate for loading up her ipod with music she might not ordinarily choose to listen to herself!
Clean out the basement/closet/the boxes with your name on them.
Digitizing photos/video/etc. (Or come do mine!)
In-hospital foot/leg massage.
Set her up with Words with Friends.
New slippers/shawl/yoga pants/fleecey something.
Expensive ($15) lip balm.
Mani/pedi (they say black/dark blue helps with keeping nail side effects at bay -- I did it and my finger/toe nails came through chemo beautifully!)
Soft wine-coolers and beer coolers which are perfect for slipping on your hands/feet during chemo -- it's said that cold prevents neuropathy (and yes, I tried this too, I'm good, and my oncology nurses stocked up on them for other patients who were sticking their feet in buckets of ice!)
posted by thinkpiece at 8:58 AM on December 20, 2011

fun hats: chiahats. I love mine. I get so many comments when I wear it.

My BF had cervical cancer, and a friend of ours knit her a really awesome/colorful throw. She took it with her to chemo.
posted by hotelechozulu at 9:13 AM on December 20, 2011

oh, woops, noticed your price limit. I've seen knock off chiahats for cheap.
posted by hotelechozulu at 9:15 AM on December 20, 2011

Amazon has lots of pashmina knock-offs for less than $15. I find them incredibly useful - they are great as blankets, fold up small, and are easily washed.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 10:40 AM on December 20, 2011

+1 on Queasy Pops - I bought some for a friend going through chemo and she said they helped and tasted good (I think chemo can affect taste buds sometimes).

Audio books - I know she has a Kindle, but there may be times when even holding a relatively lightweight item for any period of time might be too much like hard work.

LOVE the bike horn idea!
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 11:44 AM on December 20, 2011

If you want something practical, my mother said the best present she got when she had breast cancer was a large squishy cushion (like, floor cushion sized, but extra malleable). She was able to use it to prop herself into all sorts of positions in the hospital bed, and could position it strategically when especially huggy or clumsy visitors came by so that it acted as a protective barrier to her chest.
posted by lollusc at 1:09 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

My mom really enjoyed God Said Ha while she was doing her chemo.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:20 PM on December 20, 2011

My wife is a breast cancer survivor. The best thing you can do for her is to express 1000% confidence that she will get through it with flying colors.

Do this through everything that you say to her, the way you act around her, and the way you interact with family and friends about her condition.

Positive vibes beat physical gifts when it comes to this kind of thing.
posted by imjustsaying at 8:16 PM on December 20, 2011

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