The first thing I heard when I first told someone about my diagnosis of Stage 3a Triple Negative Breast Cancer was “I’m so sorry. I wish there was something I could do.” I am blessed to have a wonderful support system behind me with my family and friends. While there are some major things I still need, when it comes to much of my day-to-day, I am blessed.
The list below is created not only from the various Cancer/Chemo bags I have received, but it also includes items to assist not just the patient but also the caregiver (especially if they are a full-time caregiver like mine is)
- Offer a house-cleaning service once or twice a month during the course of treatment and recovery
- Provide a meal (homemade or otherwise)
- Offer to watch any younger children
- Offer to run the daily errands (pay bills, buy groceries, pick up meds at the pharmacy)
- Offer transportation to and from any of the treatments
- Offer to be a care-giver for the day or to go for any of the treatments and sit with us
- Maybe if you know they are going to be needing financial assistance, maybe see if they are open to fundraising to help….***this can be as easy as a bake sale or yard sale to a gofundme account to a larger run fundraiser***
- If you know of a service they are applying for which provides financial, medical, or another kind of service but requires an application, ask how you can assist with the application
- ASK how you can help exactly
- Call, visit, and/or send letters or cards (don’t just post on Facebook, believe me receiving any actual mail from family and friends lifts my spirits immensely for the entire day)
- Restaurant gift cards: This helps the entire family, caregiver, and the person fighting this war. Too soon, cancer seems to consume everything and this allows them to get out and be themselves and not just the “cancer patient”.
Items to create your own Cancer/Chemo Tote or Basket:
- Nice size Tote or Basket: (my preference for totes are actually like a very nice shopper from TJMaxx, Pier1, or anywhere you would actually purchase a nice size and design): for baskets, I would recommend something like a fabric lined basket like the these at Target…both of them will come in handy later for either groceries or storage. Also with the basket, it allows the patient to place any mementos they wish to keep during this time.
- A decent size Fleece blanket or a nice soft small pillow: 50″x60″ is perfect for snuggling while getting treatment and also on the couch during the bad days; the small pillow will be easier to carry to and from treatments; I recommend anything with a VERY soft touch. The skin becomes more sensitive during treatments.
- A Good Book: If you know what type of books they read, a good book; or an Amazon gift card so they can get a new book.
- A puzzle book : I’ve found Word Searches to be the easiest and most popular.
- Hand sanitizer
- Hand Lotion: Such as Aveeno or Eucern as long as it is unscented, because sometimes our sense of smell becomes hypo-sensitive with the treatments.
- An extra soft toothbrush: the medications and chemotherapy tend to make the teeth and gums very sensitive
- Lip Balm: Unscented to help with chapped lips and corners of the mouth
- Ginger Chews or Drops: Tummydrops on Amazon provide 30 individually wrapped pieces, helps with the nausea from the medication
- Tea: I recommend these flavors for most side effects: Mint (nausea, stomach issues; honey will also help to calm the stomach a little), Chamomile or Chai (for relaxation), lemon (with honey will help with any sore throat)
- Journal w/Pen: to help with writing questions on medications, treatments, or other doctor questions
- Day Planner/Calendar: There will be a lot of appointments for tests, scans, treatments, and to see the doctors, it will help a lot to be able to keep them all organized
- Salon Gift Card: It’s difficult to understand why someone without hair would appreciate going to a salon, but this could be used for a simple pedicure or so we can get our scalps massaged. Those massages really help.
- Tervis or Yeti cup: This helps so we can keep hydrated during chemotherapy
Here is a list of thoughtful gifts for a woman going through a mastectomy:
- Zip front robe with pockets
- Button up front pajamas
- Tervis or Yeti cup: If they don’t have one from previous treatment already
- Pink house shoes: Or any color is fine really
- Pedicure gift card: A really nice way for her to be spoiled while recovering
- Salon gift card to get their hair washed while recovering
- Lap throw
- Good book
- Amazon gift card