Top 9 Gifts for Someone With Cancer

Holidays are sometimes difficult when you have a loved one who has cancer. You want to give them a gift, but what should you give someone who has cancer?

Many people make the mistake of buying a medical gift like a shower chair, which may be useful but may not exactly feel like a present. It may feel more like a reminder of the disease.

Here's a good rule of thumb: Buy the same kind of gift that you would buy someone who doesn't have cancer. In other words, make it something fun and uplifting that might distract from the disease and bring them joy.


Gift Certificates

woman with cancer smiling

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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 close friend of mine saved all the gift cards that she received during the holidays for a shopping spree to celebrate the end of treatment.

Another friend saved them for her gloomy days. How uplifting it was for her to have a massage that was already paid for on a day when she felt down.


iPad or iPod

Cancer patient on ipad

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If you're in the market for a big-ticket item, splurge on an iPad or iPod. 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 in advance, but making a quilt for your loved one can be one of the most thoughtful gifts that 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 one-foot-by-one-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 that you know your friend likes but doesn't already have. And throw in some unexpected selections.

I once received a gift subscription to Archaeological Digest, and it's something that I probably would have never subscribed to myself, but thoroughly enjoyed. It kept my mind off treatment, and five years later, I'm still a subscriber.


Travel Gift Certificates or Vouchers

Older couple on 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 it gives them an opportunity to relax, whether it be 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 Computer

Laptop in bed

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This can be a costly gift, but it's one that 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 gives them the ability 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.


Pajamas, Robes, and Slippers

Men's slippers

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Did you know that most patients 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 for both men and women, 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.



Man playing with jigsaw puzzle

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Crosswords, Sudoku, and search-a-word 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. Considering buying two copies of a book and accompanying your friend to chemotherapy so you can do them together. 

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