Gift ideas for a cancer survivor
July 25, 2012 5:16 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to get/make a gift for a breast cancer survivor. I am moderately crafty. Gift ideas?

The lady in question has had a mastectomy, is in her fifties, is an artistic soul.

I am moderately crafty, can knit and crochet, am learning to weave, that sort of thing. I can make a scarf and whatnot, but is there anything specific I can make? Eg perhaps I can make some sort of decorative breast plate thing - she's had to throw out a bunch of her clothes or alter them post surgery, she often wears fitted clothing as a rule but is also still self conscious about her chest at times.

I can also buy something though, I'd like it to be something useful but pretty is all.

Thank you everyone.
posted by mooza to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My mother had a mastectomy a few years ago. The gifts she seemed to appreciate most were cushions of various sorts - for propping herself up in bed with, and for arranging in a "protective" way in front of her chest when she was sitting. She also appreciated knitted shawls. She felt like having something draped over her front made her feel a little less vulnerable, both to people looking at the baggy bit of her clothes (before she was healed enough to wear a bra with an insert), and also to people accidentally brushing or bumping her chest and causing pain.
posted by lollusc at 5:39 PM on July 25, 2012

Depending on how well you know her, maybe a knitted breast prosthesis?
posted by illenion at 5:52 PM on July 25, 2012

Maybe a soft knitted/crocheted prosthetic? Knitted Knockers has some info about them and a few patterns: knitted version, crocheted version
posted by stefanie at 5:55 PM on July 25, 2012

How about a pair of socks made from a beautiful, luxurious wool? Not specific to mastectomy, but when I want to really pamper myself, wearing handmade woolen socks made from a vivid yarn makes me feel just lovely. I'm personally partial to Madelinetosh sock yarns.
posted by telegraph at 6:03 PM on July 25, 2012

My mom was always self-conscious about her mastectomy scar. She had a radical mastectomy, and the scar was such that even moderately v-shaped tops and dresses exposed the scar.

There's this thing I've seen that you can make, but I don't know what it is called so I can't find it right now. But here's the basic idea. First look at this cami bra. I've seen this thing that basically makes any bra into a cami bra do to the magic of buttons? Snaps? Hook-and-eyes? I'm not sure. The idea was that you attach a piece of lace to your bra, and now you aren't exposed. If she's not had reconstructive surgery, she probably just got new bras with a pocket for a prosthesis, or new bras that fit without one. This would be a great way for her to modify the new bras as needed, to keep more of the rest of her wardrobe. You could make them in many colors...

I'd think really carefully before giving her a hand-knitted breast prosthesis. Having a breast removed is pretty upsetting for many women, and although meant in the best way might not go over right. A true prosthesis is made to look and feel as natural as a breast. Something knitted might look like she's stuffing her bra with a sock and make her even more self-conscious.
posted by Houstonian at 6:03 PM on July 25, 2012

A friend who just went through treatment was very tired, sometimes headachey and nauseated and sore in spots, and loved rice and buckwheat and flax seed bags that she could chill or heat as needed. She liked both scented and non-scented, and used whichever depending on how she was feeling. Here are ideas for fillings, and this is the shape we use around our house, especially for headaches and sore shoulders and hips. There's a world of information out there about them, with debates about fillings and such. My only suggestion is to either make it so that the fillings can be changed out and the cover washed, or let her know you'll make another if needed if it's not washable. Ours hasn't been the same since the cough medicine incident.
posted by peagood at 6:12 PM on July 25, 2012

One woman I know who had a mastectomy had only two bras for the longest time. They were both old and falling apart. Anything with new elastic caused her arm to swell horribly. Another woman I know with a double mastectomy swells up in both arms and then her husband wraps her up in ace bandages to get it under control. I think swelling like that is a fairly common issue.

Maybe you could find or make a gift, like a not tight bra or bra substitute (tube top or under shirt?) or even an elastic pressure sleeve, that would in some way address this issue.
posted by Michele in California at 6:55 PM on July 25, 2012

Breast cancer survivor here. I hate prostheses and never wear one. Some survivors wear one all the time, some only sometimes. I'm lopsided but if you're looking at my chest that closely you'd better be either my husband or George Clooney. I love my Cami Secrets (warning: truly obnoxious auto-audio), which is what Houstonian above was talking about, I think. Sears sells soemthing very similar, and this image gives a clearer idea of the design than the Cami Secret website, and thankfully, doesn't auto-load loud voices.
posted by angiep at 8:35 PM on July 25, 2012

I gave someone who was well endowed and had a double mastectomy. I remember having a conversation with her and she said she felt so liberated because she was always so big and now she can walk around without a bra if she wanted. I gave her a canvas tote bag that had boobs on it. The bag was cute and the proceeds went to a breast cancer foundation. She loves it.
posted by Yellow at 5:16 AM on July 26, 2012

Does she want something related to her disease and surgery? My friend says the birthday after her mastectomy was the most unpleasant gift season she'd ever had. Everything was pink and festooned with helpful ribbons. She told me it was like the year her students found out she collected dolphins -- she felt the presents were for some aspect of her perceived self and not for her.

How about a nice rectangular scarf/wrap? It's useful, thoughtful, versatile, and gives you room to get fancy.
posted by Sallyfur at 1:43 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

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