My brother spent a lot of time in the hospital after being diagnosed with colon cancer. The hospital is not a happy place, but I am sure I don’t need to tell you that. It is like living in a dressing room at a department store—those horrible fluorescent lights and a kind of funky smell. Do you know what I mean? Now picture that one of your child’s annoying beeping toys is in the dressing room, which is what a vitals monitor sounds like, and that is pretty a much a hospital. Oh, and now imagine you or someone you love is suffering. Makes trying on a pair of jeans seem not so bad, right?
I recognize that picking out a gift for a cancer patient can be stressful. So, here are just a few suggestions from things I learned along the way. Consider it my gift from my brother and I to you.
1. Headphones. Cancer patients typically spend a lot of time receiving chemotherapy treatment. Cancer treatment centers are not entirely miserable (aside from the fact that everyone has, ya know, cancer). The one my brother sat in had a couple dozen lounge chairs clustered in groups of four or five around televisions. There was practically no privacy. Looking around I would notice that almost everyone was listening to something. A pair of nice headphones is a great gift. Those crappy ones that come with your iPhone kill my earbuds after 30 minutes, let alone six hours.
2. iTunes, Audible, or Netflix gift card. If I am going to suggest headphones I guess I should point out that gift certificates for things they can listen to is also a good idea. A list of podcasts or audiobooks for them to check out would be cool too.
3. Cozy socks. Yeah, socks. Like, the crappy gift your aunt gave you for your birthday when you were 12. If they will be staying overnight, find the socks with the treads on the bottom since most cancer patients are considered a “fall risk” and might be required to wear these during their stay. Not very glamorous, but definitely practical.
4. Anything comfy. You cannot go wrong with comfy. A throw blanket, a nice shawl, a cashmere scarf, one of those neck pillows people wear on planes. Some cancer patients sit for a long time while they receive chemotherapy. Have you ever sat in a hospital lounge chair for six hours? Not comfy. The person may have to wear short sleeves or an open button down shirt depending on where the port is for the IV that delivers the drugs. Having a small throw blanket or a nice shawl to wrap up in after getting set up can feel great.