Top 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 treatment that only reminds the person 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 the person joy. Look through this gift guide for nine great ideas. 


Gift Certificates

woman with cancer smiling


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 the person's favorite restaurant, store, or spa. The person can use the gift card at a time that is convenient for him or her 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 of mine 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

If you are in the market to purchase 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 his or her favorite TV show or the release of a new album, and the person may enjoy playing addictive games like Angry Birds on an iPad or iPod. He or she can even read a favorite digital newspaper, book, or magazine with the help of the Amazon Kindle app. In fact, there are several apps that you can download on these devices. Among them are those designed for people with cancer.


Handmade Quilts

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 will 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. 



If you have ever stayed home sick for a few days, you know that there is 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

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 am still a subscriber.


Travel Gift Certificates or Vouchers

Did you know that 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

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 a person to spend a lot of time in bed. This gives a person the ability to communicate with friends and family efficiently via email and social networking sites. If your loved one is ambitious, he or she can even blog about their cancer treatment.


Pajamas, Robes, and Slippers

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.



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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