Top 9 Gifts for Someone With Cancer

When someone has cancer, for many people, there's the instinct to want to get them something. During holidays, people also may not know what to get someone living with cancer. Do you get something medical or something fun? It can be a tricky balance, and everyone is different, depending on their needs, interests, and life circumstances.

One helpful thing to think about is what would they like if they didn't have cancer? But, of course, they still enjoy these things, and sometimes they may not necessarily want anything health related. So, we've put together a list of potential gifts to think about when shopping for someone living with cancer. Read on to find out more!

Gift Certificates

woman with cancer smiling

 FatCamera / Getty Images

Some people feel that gift cards are too impersonal, but they really do make the perfect gift for someone with cancer.

Choose a gift certificate or gift card to their favorite restaurant, store, or spa. They can use it when it's convenient and schedule it around a treatment schedule.


A woman living with cancer using an iPad

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If you're in the market for a big-ticket item, splurge on an iPad. These handy, portable gadgets are perfect for long chemo sessions and hospital stays.

Your loved one will never miss an episode of their favorite TV show or the release of a new album, and they may enjoy playing addictive games like Angry Birds.

They can even read a favorite digital newspaper, book, or magazine with the help of the Amazon Kindle app. In fact, you can download several apps on these devices. Among them are some designed for people with cancer.

Handmade Quilts

Stack of handmade quilts

images by Karen Burns/Vintage Findings / Getty Images 

This gift may take a few months to prepare, but making a quilt for your loved one can be one of the most thoughtful gifts you will ever give. Grab a bunch of friends and design and sew a quilt.

You can choose a theme (like "friendship") or even transfer photographs on quilting squares. Or ask your friends to each mail you a 1-foot-by-1-foot piece of fabric, like a piece of a t-shirt that might have a special meaning. 

Don't have any sewing skills? No worries. Check out your local craft store for lessons that take a small amount of time and money.

If you really don't have the time or skill to handmake a quilt, hire a quilter. Ask your local craft/fabric store if they know of a quilter or put an ad online or in your local newspaper. 


Woman looking through DVDs

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If you've ever stayed home sick for a few days, you know there's only so much daytime television that you can tolerate. DVDs of movies and television series are perfect for someone with cancer. They can be watched at home and even in most hospital rooms.

Just think a little bit about the subject matter ahead of time. For instance, you may want to avoid movies that are about cancer or include a lot of death and steer more toward lighthearted comedies. 

Magazine Subscriptions

Woman flipping through magazine

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Magazine subscriptions are also excellent gifts for someone with cancer. Choose subscriptions to publications you know your friend likes but doesn't already have. You might want to also choose some unexpected selections for fun.

It's always nice to get subscriptions to something that you're interested in, but wouldn't necessarily buy for yourself.

Travel Vouchers

Older adults on a cruise

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Did you know you can buy a gift certificate for cruises and airline travel?

Travel gift certificates are excellent presents for people with cancer because they allow them to relax, whether in between treatment sessions or after treatment has ended.

You don't have to pay the full amount of the travel cost. Airlines and cruise ships sell gift certificates in various denominations.

A Laptop

Laptop on a bed

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This can be a costly gift, but it will go to good use.

Surgeries and fatigue are often part of cancer treatment and can cause them to spend a lot of time in bed. A laptop allows them to communicate with friends and family efficiently via email and social networking sites.

If your loved one is ambitious, they can even blog about their cancer treatment.


A pair of slippers under a bed.

eddyfish / Getty Images

Did you know that most people in hospitals can wear their own PJs?

Nothing is more unflattering and uncomfortable than a hospital gown, so why not spoil a loved one with cozy pajamas, a soft robe, and fuzzy slippers?

Robes and pajamas that open in the front work best, so look for things that button up or have elastic-waist pants. Slippers or non-skid socks are also great gift ideas.

All of these items will make your loved one feel more comfortable in the hospital.

Puzzle Books

Man playing with jigsaw puzzle

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Crosswords, Sudoku, and word search puzzles can be therapeutic for people who are undergoing cancer treatment. They can ease the mind and help pass the time.

Check out your local bookstores for entire sections that are devoted to puzzle books. Consider buying two copies of a book and accompanying your friend to chemotherapy so you can do them together. 


Buying gifts for people can be tricky under the best situations, but it can feel especially hard when someone has cancer. Things that are practical and useful but still fun are always a good choice. It doesn't have to cost a lot of money to be a fantastic gift—puzzle books are a great example of an inexpensive gift that helps pass the time, distract them, and provides enjoyment that doesn't have to be medical-related.

A Word From Verywell

When it comes to buying gifts for people with cancer, that adage is true—it's the thought that counts. Knowing that someone cares enough to think of them is the most important thing. These suggestions are just a bonus.

Originally written by Lisa Fayed