Wellbeing

13 Amazing Gift Ideas for Cancer Patients

When you find out someone you love has cancer, you won’t always know exactly what to say or do to make their experience easier.

Giving a thoughtful gift is one of the many ways you can show support to a loved one going through cancer treatment. For inspiration, we asked members of the CaringBridge community who have been touched by cancer to share the best gifts they’ve ever given or received.

Check out the list and get inspired by these 13 awesome gift ideas for cancer patients:

1. Supply Meals

Offering meals is a gift-giving staple for a reason: it takes a huge burden off a patient. Finding the time to cook regularly is a challenge even for those with no health issues, let alone someone struggling with cancer. A couple CaringBridge members who received meals during treatment shared their appreciation for this gift:

We are an eat at the table family…when my daughter was doing chemo it would have meant takeout dinner….for over two years the people of our church (St. Mark’s Episcopal in Irving, Texas) came weekly with homemade meals and sat down at the table with my other children while I was at treatment with Echo….I still tear up thinking of it.

Evan Jaeri Murphy

A home-cooked, sit-down dinner and someone coming to clean my house were the two best gifts I ever received while undergoing chemo.

Nicole Nic Nizzi

2. Throw Them a Party

What takes someone’s mind off of things better than a party? When a loved one has cancer, it can feel difficult to get in the party mood, but it’s important to remember there are still so many positives to celebrate. Whether it be a birthday bash or anniversary party, your loved one shouldn’t have to miss out because of their illness.

Here’s another unique party idea from a member of our community:

A Friend threw a hat and scarf party for me! I received hats, wigs, scarves, bandannas, headbands, and pretty pink earrings and bracelets! I can’t even remember everything I got! The whole church was there plus my family and friends! I was so surprised! I cried! I was so happy!

Debbie Wattelet-McKee

3. Make a CaringBridge Site

CaringBridge is a personal health journal that lets you easily share your health journey with all your loved ones. Creating a site is a great way to help your loved one easily communicate and receive support, which makes it an awesome gift to give someone battling cancer. Check out what a couple CaringBridge users had to say about creating a site:

Doing a CaringBridge for my mother-in-law was the best thing I did for myself! My writings were priceless in the time it saved me. I then could spend more time with her. Then trying to keep everyone up-to-date, which would have been impossible. Thank you for being there for us!

Linda Winterfeldt

Some of the best gifts my husband and I are receiving right now aren’t “physical” things, but support on our CaringBridge site from people we haven’t heard from in a very long time. Another thing that was an amazing gift to me was the Loving Kindness Meditation connected with CaringBridge. It helped me focus every day, and I saved the link and still go back to it.

Carolyn Mijokovic

4. Help with Daily Tasks

One thing a cancer patient does not need any more of? Stress. Offering to help out with chores like house cleaning, feeding pets or driving kids to school/sports will lift a huge weight off your loved one’s shoulders. The less they focus on day-to-day chores, the more they can focus on getting better. Here are some specific ways you can help out with daily tasks:

One of the best gifts I got when I had my cancer in 2001-2002 was, a church friend would come pick up my 3 kids and drive them to 3 different schools each school day. She had 2 daughters that went to school also. It helped me tremendously, because a lot of times my cancer appointments were early and I could not drive my kids to their schools. Others gifts were gift baskets of things that I could use for different things during my cancer treatment sessions like cards, money or gift cards and people praying for me ALL over the world while I had cancer treatments and appointments.

Debbie Worters Robertson

Years ago a women in our town had TB and was staying in a special hospital. She had 5 small children. The Junior Women’s Club took this on as a project. We took care of her children on a Friday – took turns feeding the family and whatever was needed.

Carol Leinberger

5. Simple Treats

The most simple of gestures can often speak volumes. Many times, cancer patients are so occupied with treatment that life’s little pleasures get left to the wayside. Here are some ideas of simple gifts that are sure to bring a smile:

Fresh fruit was always really welcome – whatever was nicest & in season. My mother-in-law sent me flowers every single treatment day – beautiful, and felt like an indulgence, but the consistency of her thoughtfulness meant a lot to me.

Hanna Cooper

Top favorites were chocolate covered pink ribbon strawberries, a super soft prayer blanket, and a Good Wishes head scarf/wrap.

Angela Kae Cooper

My 6-year-old daughter Alyssa at the time of treatment received a red wagon that we used to transport her through the hospital and back to the car. She loved having her own wagon & her favorite blanket to comfort her during hospital stays.

Patricia Gallaher

6. Something to Look Forward to

Having something positive to look forward to is a great motivator for cancer patients to get through treatment. Here’s a fun idea for inspiration:

When my sister was very sick with ovarian cancer, her friends and family did a mini-makeover on her kitchen, living room and dining room….including paint, new decor, new couch, etc. She got to come home to a fabulous, clean and beautiful home to recuperate!!!

Renee Breitbach

7. Photos of Happy Memories

Giving pictures of friends and family from happy times are sure to brighten your loved one’s day. Here’s a sweet idea of how you can incorporate photos into an awesome gift:

When my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, her nephews presented her with a blanket with pictures of them that she could use for her chemo treatments.

Kathy Jones

8. Monetary Gifts

Gifting money can sometimes be considered taking the easy route. That’s simply not true. Offering financial support can be one of the most thoughtful (and needed) gifts you can give to a cancer patient. Many patients have to limit or give up working altogether due to their condition, and on top of that, treatment is expensiveIf you’re still not convinced that money is a good gift, check out this heartfelt quote:

I am our primary bread-earner and when my husband went through massive cancer/chemo in 2015, it was a struggle financially…. a lot of unexpected co-pays, hospital stays where I needed to be with him. I’m self-employed so I was able to reschedule my hours to some degree, but still missed work that I really needed. Just when I wondered how we would make it, a check for $50 or $100 would appear in my mailbox or in my Bible at my church. All gifts of love mean the world when your world caves in.

Cheryl Baer

9. Regularly Visit

It’s free, it’s easy and it’s so important. Going through cancer treatment can feel isolating and having the support of regular visitors is the best way to combat that.

Coordinate with your loved one to find the days they’ll be undergoing treatment and pick times that work for both of you to come visit. Trust us, simply showing up makes a world of difference to someone going through a health crisis.

10. Professional Massage

The benefits of massage include helping manage pain and muscle tension, plus emotional perks like stress relief and feelings of comfort and connection. Giving someone struggling with cancer an hour of bliss and relaxation will always be a great option.

11. Cards in the Mail

It may sound old-school, but there is something inexplicably sweet about receiving a handwritten note. Taking the few extra minutes to write kind words by hand is a great way to both tell and show your support.

12. Books

Hospitals aren’t the most exciting setting and boredom can set in quickly. Keep your loved one entertained by bringing over some of your favorite books. You could bring anything from your favorite mystery novel to a prayer book – the main focus should be on sharing something you love (and think they’ll love, too.)

Check out these entertaining book suggestions to spark some ideas.

13. Care Package

Ah, the care package: It’s a solid classic. You can’t go wrong with a well put-together basket of your loved one’s favorite things. You can use a mixture of the previous suggestions or look to these other gift ideas for inspiration:

A meal service. Gift card to spa. Red blanket for bottom of the bed (no verbal sign of very important patient). Phone charger and cords. Posters for endless beige walls. A Kindle with a one-year subscription to Prime. Sleep mask. Earplugs.

Anna Gregerson

I got a gift basket of find-a-word books, ink pens, cards to send out and scarves for my bald head.. So thoughtful.

Lela Preston

Bravehoods!

Allison Feinglas Yacht

Give the Gift of Love

It matters much less what you choose to give as long as you give it with love. We hope these gift ideas for cancer patients got your imagination whirring. They certainly put us in the giving mood.

(Important note: If you plan on bringing your gift to the hospital be mindful that there are restrictions. Please contact the hospital staff or patient to ensure that there are no allergies or other limitations that might prevent you from bringing your gift.)

What Are the Best Gifts You’ve Ever Given/Received? Comment Below!

We’d like to hear even more inspiring ideas from our readers! Please share your all-time favorite gifts you’ve received or given to someone in need.

Comments (12)

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Kay Roberts Sep 26, 2020 7:23pm
As I am preparing for treatment, my family gave me a wonderful "chemo basket" filled with things I didn't even know were a thing. It contains 2 cancer hats, a chemo port T-shirt with zipper closures on both sides of the front for easy access to the port (and it's pink), a small jigsaw puzzle, books, puzzle book, a cancer support bracelet ("in this family, no one fights alone!"), as well as drops to suck on for nausea, cream to support the skin, and a few more delightful gifts.
Susan Apr 27, 2020 1:18am
These are great suggestions. I appreciate all of you who have been going through this experience...ordeal. (I don't know what to say). All I can think of was this store that carried all kinds of goodies from the country he was born in. I know he's having trouble keeping food down so I don't know if this would be insensitive. Maybe he'll get an appetite? I want to let him know how much I care.
Jean Kalseth Dec 29, 2019 4:35pm
During my radiation for breast cancer my main objective was to backpack with my friends & husband again. I went for radiation daily & then I went to the gym....daily.... to get ready for the hike in the spring. I was so focused on the physical recovery that at times I forgot about the treatment the hour before.
Leona Coburn Oct 13, 2019 5:08pm
I received care packages with many things including Wonder Woman hat and earrings and a Good Karma tshirt, cards, restaurant gift cards, Amazon gift card, cash, do rags and hats, skincare gift set, fuzzy blanket, books, bracelets,and " F" cancer socks .
Martha Sep 27, 2019 6:54pm
I got a huge basket of goodies when I was in hospital for 4 weeks. My family and I enjoyed them (my grandgirls loved it) and I shared goodies with my hospital staff. This has great returns, I promise. They felt appreciated and knew that I really cared how hard they worked.
Marcia C. Sep 25, 2019 2:40pm
I sent out of the box/ odd / exotic surprises to my friend who had a strong support group in her town. Sending kimonos and teas added humor and conversation starters for her daily visitors!
Maggie Soff Sep 25, 2019 11:13am
On my chemo days, 2 friends took turns sitting and gabbing with me as the hours slowly moved along. At first, I thought we both would be bored out of our minds, but the time passed quickly with lots of laughs and through conversations. I made truthful light of my cancer by saying in response to “How are you doing? Maggie.” I would always respond, “I’m still this side of the green grass!” And I followed up with a chuckle. My response brought chuckles right back to me. When at the cancer center, I would take short walks around the floor and stop by other patients and ask how they were doing that day. It never failed to evoke a response of “I’m good. How are you today?” I would always respond with a grin, “I’m still this side of the green grass - and so are you.” One man, who had been looking rather down at first, responded with a warm and genuinely hearty laugh. I knew he would feel the warmth for the rest of the day, which made me feel that warmth in turn. My best advice, and easiest to do, is: Don’t be afraid of talking to other cancer patients. It’s nice to be noticed by someone other than a nurse or a doctor. I’ve met some of the most interesting people, who just like me, happen to have cancer.
Karen Hicks Sep 25, 2019 10:57am
When my daughter was diagnosed with Cancer and started her first treatment, she was petrified! When we arrived, the receptionist gave her a gift bag from her "Chemo Fairy". Every time we went, there was another bag filled with different goodies. We later learned it was her Mother-In-Law. There were lots of little details to keep it secret, but it was so successful that everyone in the chemo room could hardly wait for her to get there to see what she got. It Affected Everyone.
Colleen Sep 18, 2019 5:26pm
A friend had a special quilt made for me that had funny sayings on it from our time working together... it was not only a great reminder of fun times, but it also gave me hope those fun times would happen again! It was also a real conversation starter with chemo nurses. I also LOVED getting funny cards, or just thinking of you cards in the mail- always brightened my day.
Dianne Tencer Sep 02, 2019 10:15am
A friend made me a soft cover for my seat belt (when I sit on the passenger side of the front seat) which is where my port and the seat belt come together. She put it together with a ❤️ on it and it's a thoughtful and very useful gift.
Andrea Trainor Apr 14, 2019 6:55am
The best gift I gave to my friend Nancy,while she battled cancer...a personalised journal for her two young daughters . She said it was therapeutic and made her feel like she really left something wonderful for her girls. God bless you Nancy,miss you everyday
Debbi Miller Nov 09, 2018 8:41pm
Cleaning for a Reason provided 3 monthly housecleanings while I was on chemo. What a gift! It gave me peace of mind so I could concentrate on resting and getting better. Cleaningforareason.org.