“My friend has just been diagnosed with breast cancer and I want to give her a basket of gifts to brighten her day. What would you recommend?” Having been the person with the cancer diagnosis, I get asked this question quite a bit, and it’s such a sweet question to get. Loving on someone when they are going through a difficult time is so appreciated. I’ve been there.
I thought I would share some of the gifts that I found helpful, that were either given to me or I discovered on my own. Any of these options could be given individually, or creating a nice gift basket with a combination of things is lovely too.
When I was going through chemotherapy I drank a LOT of water. I felt that drinking water was key for flushing out the toxins in my body, and it seemed to help with my energy level. I didn’t want to drink anything out of plastic that may contain BPA, and chemo made my taste buds act a little wacky, so stainless steel bottles didn’t work well for me either. Instead, I found these amazing glass bottles made by BKR. They are covered in cute silicone sleeves that protect the glass, and make them easy to grip. They have all different sizes, but I prefer the largest version which is the 1L size.
The one thing I felt I could control while going through treatment was what I ate. I also seemed to feel better when I consumed small meals multiple times a day, and that included snacking. Healthy snacks like pistachios, mixed nuts, pumpkin seeds and dried fruits always hit the spot. I avoided sugar, but if that’s not an issue for your recipient, then I recommend a couple of dark chocolate bars preferably with a cocoa percentage of over 70%. I love the Theo brand. They have a great variety of flavors that are very unique!
Everyone loves to feel pampered, especially when they aren’t exactly feeling their fabulous self, so personal care products that don’t contain harmful ingredients or allergens are a wonderful gift. I personally loved the Beautycounter Cleansing Balm because it was the only thing that helped my super dry skin, which was a side effect of chemo, feel moisturized again. A tube of the hand cream is great too for keeping hands hydrated and smelling nice at the hospital while getting an infusion.
I found that I got chilly when I was getting my chemo treatments and the warm blankets the nurses provided (while very thoughtful) were a bit stiff and sterile feeling. A family member gave me a lightweight blanket that I took with me every time I went to the clinic to sit in the infusion chair, and not only was it much cozier, but it gave me some comfort from home.
I was terribly nervous when I went in for my first treatment. All of the unknowns of getting chemotherapy was a bit overwhelming, so I brought a small container of lavender essential oil with me. The calming smell was also very soothing and the nurses liked it too!
This book is a must! I can’t tell you how helpful this devotional was for my journey. It contains short daily devotionals that are incredibly encouraging and always seem to be very timely.
I think anyone going through breast cancer would love these jammies. I had a double mastectomy so after surgery I wasn’t able to lift my arms above my head for quite a while. I lived in button up shirts and pajamas for weeks. This brand is lovely and the pajamas are so soft and classic looking. I’m still a fan!
When I was first diagnosed, I felt very alone and I desperately wanted to hear someone else’s story of victory over this disease. There are a lot of wonderful books out there, but I struggled with finding one that shared what it looked like to lean on God throughout this trial. Because of that, I felt very strongly to write my story in hopes of helping other women who may find themselves in the same place I was. “I Have Two Words For You” is a real, raw, look at my fight with breast cancer, and I intentionally share how Jesus never left my side. There’s a bit of humor in it too!
Everviolet is a beautiful company founded by a breast cancer survivor. This company designs and offers intimate wear specifically for women who have been through this journey. Each piece is crafted keeping in mind the physical challenges that we face having had reconstructive surgery. Their robe, in particular, is beautiful, feminine and a great gift for someone to enjoy not only at the hospital but at home.
Many times, the last thing I wanted to think about was cancer, so it was refreshing to lose myself in a great magazine. Whether that was one from Real Simple, where I could immerse myself in pretty kitchens and recipes, or a fashion magazine like Vogue, dreaming of feeling “normal” again, any fun magazine was a highlight for me.
Oftentimes the first thing someone wants to purchase for a cancer survivor who is, or will be, losing their hair is a scarf or a head covering of some type. This is a tricky thing. Losing your hair is such a devastating and personal thing and every survivor approaches it differently. Before you purchase a scarf or a hat of some sort, make sure you really know the person and have talked to them about how they are going to address this issue. Someone might LOVE a soft beanie hat, yet someone else might think a beanie will make them look “sick” and would prefer a gorgeous scarf. I recommend talking it over with your friend first if you want to go this route. If you do choose to purchase a head covering, I got a few of mine, mostly for sleeping, at Head Covers Unlimited. I primarily wore scarves and preferred ones that were long, lightweight (poly or cotton) and not silky/slippery. I found a lot of mine at TJ Maxx, or Target, but H&M has some inexpensive ones that are pretty too.
I was one of those people that decided if I was going to lose my hair, I wanted to at least have some fun with a few sets of fabulous earrings. It was my way of still feeling put together and “pretty” in spite of how I really felt. I found some wonderful ones on the JCrew website!
Smoothie Recipe Book
Fueling my body with healthy food was a priority for me and smoothies always seemed to hit the spot. I could get a lot of nutrients jam packed into one little drink and it was a way to combat any nausea early on in my treatments. Breast Cancer Smoothies by Daniella Chace, was one of our family’s favorite books, and we still make a lot of these recipes today.
These containers are great for taking that smoothie on the go, or to the hospital for a treatment. Again, it’s glass, fits in a car cup holder, and comes with a wider straw!
Cut Veggies with Hummus Dip
Going through chemo treatments can be exhausting and simple tasks that seemed effortless before can now seem insurmountable. Simply cutting up some fresh veggies and making a little hummus dip/veggie plate for someone is a great way to help. It’s healthy snacking made easy!
A dear friend gave me a print out of a great selection of Bible verses that focused on healing. I was very conscious of “speaking life” over myself while I was going through treatment, and declaring God’s promises for me over my mind and my body. I really believe it helped me keep a positive attitude and it gave me so much peace!
This one may be a no brainer, but I loved taking a pair of soft socks to the hospital on treatment days. Again, anything that made the experience feel a little less cold and institutional was just good for my psyche.
If you’re reading this blog, you’re AWESOME. It means you care and want to serve someone you love by helping make their trial a little less hard. Thank you for being a support system. As someone who has been on the other side of that love, I can honestly say that you are making a difference in someone’s life. So thank you.