By Patty Watkins
How many times have you offered to help a friend or loved one that has lung cancer, but you can’t seem to land on the “perfect” idea, no matter how well you know that person? Most lung cancer survivors go through rigorous chemo, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, and other forms of treatment like radiation and surgery. Not only do the drugs, procedures, and surgeries zap their energy, they can exhaust them to the point that just climbing on a sofa to rest is a chore in itself.
Asking an open-ended question like “What can I do for you?” is just putting one more thing on their “To-do” list in coming up with a suggestion for you!
Gifts for lung cancer survivors or patients don’t always need to be wrapped in a box with a bow. Sometimes the best gift is simply spending time with them, helping them out with some chores, or just a few encouraging words. There are a few gifts that are easily wrapped up or placed in baskets, too.
I know this personally, as I’m a stage 4 metastatic lung cancer survivor. Throughout my journey, I’ve had friends and family bring me so many different wonderful gifts. Below are some great ideas that I, as well as some friends of mine that have lung cancer, recommend as gifts for lung cancer patients and survivors, whether it’s during the holidays or simply any day! I hope this helps you in picking out the perfect present for them!
Cleaning or hiring a cleaning service
Some cancer patients — and even survivors — don’t have the support system in place to keep their house clean (which is crucial in protecting your immune system and fending off any weird bugs that could interfere with their healing). Offering to clean their home or having a service come in to clean it for them would be a great gift. Combatting daily germs is helpful for their sanity, not to mention the feeling of coming home to a spotless house. Make sure every product used is environmentally safe — vinegar and water and baking soda are also great products if you want to make your own cleaners.
Decorate for an upcoming holiday or event
What better gift for a cancer patient than to offer to help decorate their home and/or tree with their beloved lights and holiday ornaments and decorations? This takes only your time and effort but can be priceless when it comes to lifting their spirits and get them into the season. Make sure to bring some holiday sweets and beverages, and even some holiday music to add to the ambiance. Whether it’s flags and bunting for 4th of July or twinkling lights in December, the results will put a smile on their face.
Help with wrapping presents
Wrap the gifts that they simply don’t have the energy to wrap themselves. Bring all the gift wrap and bows and ribbons needed to make everything look beautiful under the tree or next to a birthday cake. Some snacks to share don’t hurt, either. If they’ve not had the energy to shop, you could offer to help with that as well.
Bake with their kids
If the lung cancer patient or survivor in your life has children, you might offer to make cookies with them along with hot chocolate and marshmallows in the winter or fresh lemonade in the summer. Bring a basket filled with cookies ingredients or cookie mix, plus some fun cookie cutters and all the fixings for hot chocolate or lemonade — including mugs. Time with loved ones in a happy setting is priceless.
Movie fun packs
Pack your friend’s favorite munchies and drinks and plan a specific night to spend time with them over a DVD or Netflix. A warm, cozy blanket would be a fun addition to the snuggle factor.
Massage and spa products
Think an eye cover or mask, essential oils in rosemary, frankincense or eucalyptus, and a wonderful emollient. You can even give them a hand massage — Believe me, this was one of the most wonderful gifts I received during cancer treatment. Relaxing, light music helps too!
Heating pads, blankets, and wraps
Anything that goes around the neck that’s microwaveable will be much appreciated by someone going through lung cancer treatment. Some come filled with a hint of rosemary or lavender.
Cooling or moisture-wicking pajamas
Some lung cancer patients, especially those that are newly diagnosed, get the nighttime sweats. It leaves them feeling clammy and uncomfortable. A nice set of pajamas is always welcomed, as well as a pair of cushy slippers if you know their size. I loved getting new pajamas to change into on those sweaty nights. The ones that wick moisture away seemed most comfortable.
Music to soothe the soul
The gift of music is great for patients and survivors. An iTunes gift card or Spotify Premium membership will give them something to listen to during long treatment sessions, and a portable wireless speaker can give them some light listening no matter what room they’re in.
Hats and scarves
This is an especially great gift for a friend or loved one going through chemo. During the winter in cold areas, it’s nice to have a cute hat or head covering and scarf or wrap to ward off the chill. And inside head covering can be just as valuable as outside: Find a fun warm weather hat or silk scarf.
A hot beverage is always within arm’s reach for me. If you know their preference, you can splurge on a nice tea assortment or specialty hot chocolate. If your loved one is a coffee drinker, Starbucks makes instant-brew packets for easy on-the-go use — especially handy in a hospital room.
Something for the ladies
When you’re going through the cancer journey, one still wants feel as normal as possible. Consider sending some light-colored lipsticks or glosses, water-based makeup removal wipes, and a small makeup mirror (I love the new battery-operated lit ones!) to keep by the bedside. If they are going through chemotherapy, a cute hat or scarf would be a great addition.
“My personal respite is a hot tub full of lovely bath salts or bubble bath with lavender soap and some good music going. Fill a basket with an eye mask, some fluffy washcloths, bath salts — as well as a nice scrub and lotion. Lung cancer patients tend to have dry skin.”
I hope this has helped you think about what might be the perfect gift for your friend or loved one who is either a patient or survivor. We all continue to have hope for a cure for lung cancer in our lifetime, and support from our friends helps that hope. Remember that a gift doesn’t always come wrapped in a bow, so think outside the “box.” Your time with them is the most precious of all gifts.
P.S. – What was the best gift you received as a lung cancer survivor? What’s the best gift you’ve given a lung cancer patient? Tweet your suggestions at us at@LCFAmerica!