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It’s the time of year for giving. Sometimes, though, it’s difficult to know what to give to family members, friends, co-workers and others. It can be doubly hard if the person you’re buying presents for has a deadly illness, such as mesothelioma or other forms of cancer.

In many cases, you can get great gift ideas simply by talking with the person. However, if you don’t know the person that well, such conversations can be awkward and embarrassing on one side or the other. To help you out, we’ve put together the following ideas for gifts to get cancer patients this holiday season.

Bring In a Night Out

Chemotherapy, radiation, and other cancer treatments can leave many cancer patients feeling drained of energy. That doesn’t mean they don’t want to have fun, though, and bringing in the components of a night out can be the perfect thing to help them keep up their spirits even when they don’t want to get dressed to the nines and hit the town.

Elements of a night out that you can bring in may include:

  • Food from a favorite restaurant
  • A happy and/or funny movie
  • Music for dancing or at least moving around to

Of course, if they do want to go out, then you can offer that as well. In either case, be sure to have a set of options available and let them choose which ones they are up to doing.

Help With Errands or Chores

Everyone has errands, from grocery shopping to laundering clothes to cleaning. In addition, cancer patients have to manage appointments, pick up prescriptions, keep track of medications, and many other things to take care of that may not be the part of the daily routine for most people. As such, their time can easily be taken up with all the “stuff” that needs to get done.

That’s why offering to run errands can be a huge help. Some of the errands that you can offer to help with include:

  • Grocery shopping
  • Picking up prescriptions
  • Transportation to and from appointments
  • Transportation for children or other family members to important events or appointments
  • Washing and folding laundry
  • Washing dishes, cleaning the bathroom, or other house chores
  • Mowing grass, raking leaves, cleaning gutters, shoveling snow, etc.

It’s good to make a specific offer that lets the cancer patient know what you are willing to do. However, also be sure to let them know that you are flexible and willing to help out with other things if the specific chore or errand you chose isn’t something they need help with.

Also, if you can’t help out directly, consider hiring someone to help out with things like clearing snow, mowing, or even cleaning the house. Just be sure to talk with the patient first, to see if they have a preferred service provider or are comfortable with such an arrangement.

Hint: This can also be a great gift for primary caregivers, who often have to take care of many of these types of things on their own.

Schedule a Massage or Spa Package

Numerous medical studies have shown that massages and other relaxation techniques can be beneficial for cancer patients. Such activities can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression while simultaneously increasing dopamine, serotonin, and lymphocytes (“NK cells”), as well as provide other potential benefits.

Since many cancer patients have very busy schedules with appointments and treatments, you might want to offer to help schedule the spa day based on the patient’s calendar. Otherwise, if they have to schedule it themselves, it could get lost in the hustle and bustle of their daily lives.

Also, consider giving the patient two certificates for a massage or spa so they can share the experience with a trusted companion.

Assemble Gifts for Others

Sometimes, the greatest gift is the one that lets us give. While cancer patients certainly like gifts that benefit themselves, in many cases they may want to also help out others as well. Depending on time and resources, however, they may not to get as many opportunities to help others as they would like.

In such cases, a good gift might be to offer them the opportunity to share their own compassionate side. Set up a time when you can work together to do things to benefit others.

Ideas might include:

  • Writing letters to active-duty military who cannot be home for the holidays.
  • Putting together gift packages for children in the hospital or who are in need
  • Collecting food and other supplies for homeless shelters or food pantries

Some of these activities may be physically taxing, so it’s important to choose something that the cancer patient will be able to participate in without feeling like others are doing all the work. In this way, they can experience some of the same giving joy of the holiday season that others do.

More Gift Ideas

Want some more ideas for what to give a cancer patient? Check out some of our previous years’ guides: