Thursday, 14 April 2016.
A friend of mine recently asked what items would be a ‘do’ or a ‘don’t’ in a gift basket for a young female cancer patient like myself. After I responded to her I began thinking that maybe this was something I should mention in a post. Unfortunately, most of us will know someone who is diagnosed with cancer. Often we don’t know what to do or say but really what matters most to that person is to hear from the people they love. Even if you say, “I don’t know what to say” that will be okay (it’s much better than actually not saying anything at all, trust me). It’s sad but true that you learn who your real friends are when sh** hits the fan. I have had more than a few friendships come to an end since I was diagnosed. The good news is, the relationships that are meant to last become stronger and more genuine. It’s funny in a way that after one survives cancer, there just isn’t time for rude fake
bitches I mean people.
Anyway… back to the gift basket 🙂
During treatment every patient goes through it and handles it differently. I have heard that particularly different age groups handle it differently. Young adults for instance want to talk about their emotions and experiences while teenagers don’t usually want to talk much, rather they bond more over the same types of interests like music or movies.
On the topic of movies and books, I would include choices that are pretty light. I don’t recommend anything about cancer – we are already thinking about cancer 24/7 not to mention treatment, our chances of survival, work, and what insurance will cover, so we don’t need to be reminded of these. Funny movies, novels, and tv shows were typically what I chose to focus on. Whenever I watched too much of the news or tried to read an intense book all it did was stress me out.
I really appreciated lip balms and lotions – the dryness of my skin was on a whole new level. EOS lip balms (those little round colorful ones) were really nice because they were easy for me to find. I needed a lot of lotion but I didn’t like anything that was medicated – I already had sensitive skin so lotions that were too strong were not soothing at all but rather made me more uncomfortable.
I would also recommend a little makeup – something simple like a combination lip and cheek stain and maybe a little mascara. I found that I did not want to put on a lot of makeup but just a little made me feel like the old me. Feeling a little prettier when going through chemo definitely brightened my day a bit.
As far as food and drinks – I developed a major appreciation for the Lemon Lime flavored Perrier. One of my mom’s friends brought that to me in the hospital for the days when I felt nauseated, but I liked it so much I drank it basically every day. Also, ginger lozenges did work well for me for nausea. Food is tough because patient’s appetites can change so much and they may be on a restricted diet.
Most oncology floors can’t accept any kind of plant – so I would recommend staying away from all types of flowers. Maybe a fake flower bouquet would be nice though to brighten someone’s hospital room if they are admitted.
Socks came in very handy for me, the super fuzzy ones with the little rubber grippers on the bottom. I liked them because they were cozy and I could walk around the unit in them without tracking down my slippers.
I highly recommend a neck pillow. Hospital beds and chemo chairs really are not all that comfortable so for me a neck pillow was a lifesaver. I was gifted mine by a prior patient and cancer survivor who knew what I was up against.
Finally, if you know someone who is diagnosed with cancer or any illness please ask them how you can help and if they need anything. It is tremendously difficult to face a diagnosis like this, but a lot of people also have a hard time asking for help.
Until next time!
My mother and me on the day I was discharged from the hospital, December 2013
The view from my hospital room, December 2013.