Gifts for the sick – the best and the worst of them

Get Well Soon Gift is all about inspiring you to find that perfect gift for your loved one who perhaps cannot articulate what would help them feel better.  Let’s face it, it’s not a particularly simple challenge to find something appropriate, useful and appreciated.  However, whatever you decide on needn’t be out of your budget – in fact some gifits may not cost you anything at all in terms of financial outlay.  Let’s not get it twisted – your friend will just appreciate the fact that you are thinking of them and is unlikely to be demanding of your purse.  But just in case you need a little help with choosing your gifts for the sick or the ailing, here’s a flavour of some of the experiences I had when I went through cancer treatment five or so years ago…

Gifts of service

home cooked mealOne of the most memorable gifts I received was having meals cooked for us by various members from my local church.  These lovely people took time out of their busy schedules to provide delicious home-cooked meals for me and my family over a period of a couple of weeks.  For someone who’s not a fan of cooking, this was brilliant!  This wasn’t something I asked for and it was done with such graciousness and generosity of heart.  I believe if I had asked for this to continue for a month that they would have done it.

Other really helpful services that friends and family provided included giving me lifts to my appointments, taking me out for coffee and a chat and even talking to our (then teenage) children and being a listening ear for them.

Gifts to improve comfort

fleecy blanketI made the decision, when going through chemotherapy, to wear an ice cap in a bid to try to keep some of my hair.  The theory is that the ice cap is placed on the head before the chemo starts to reduce the temperature of the blood vessels around the hair follicles and thereby constrict them.  This constriction means that the chemotherapy drugs don’t have much access to the hair follicles and so the hair is preserved.  Aside from the theory on this, I can tell you that it’s rather cold and the whole body is cold during the treatment.

A couple of fleecy blankets were gifted to me not just for during treatment but they came in handy during my hours of stay at the hospital when treatment day came around.

Gifts of information

gifts of informationIt’s quite tempting to start to obsess about diet when you receive the news that you have cancer.  And I imagine that it’s the same for other serious diagnoses as well.  Not only did I go out and purchase the most interesting, informational book that I could find about nutrition during cancer treatment, but a few friends thought to do the same as well.  This meant that I was able to share these around when other friends and acquaintances received news of similar diagnoses to mine.  And if you’re so minded, you might even try a recipe or two as these are highly likely to be included in books of this type.

The personal touch

It almost goes without saying that cards are a popular “gift” for friends who are suffering through illness.  A word of caution is needed here however.  For long-term illnesses you may not want to buy a card with the message: “get well soon” written on it. Blank cards with your own personal message or better still, customised handmade cards – such as these note cards – are ideal for letting someone know that they are important to you.

shopping tripAs I started to lose weight during the chemo months my sister gave me the lovely gift of a shopping trip during which she bought me some lovely items of clothing, jewellery and makeup.  The makeup, in particular, really helped to give me the lift that I needed and helped me feel more feminine and less like a little boy (which is what I was beginning to feel I looked like!)

Flowers and plants

orchidWhile a fresh bouquet of flowers can brighten up any home, the brevity of the life of flowers speaks to some of the shortness of life in general.  And while some people absolutely adore flowers, not everyone feels the same.  It is wise to find out, if you don’t already know, how your friend who is unwell feels about fresh flowers.  Obviously, plants have a much longer shelf life than cut flowers and may be more appropriate especially for long illnesses.  I still have a few orchid pots that were gifted to me over five years ago during my time of illness and these plants just keep on flowering year after year.  To me they are gifts that just keep on giving.

The other issue to bear in mind is that some flowers harbour fungal spores which may trigger allergic reactions to those susceptible.  In particular, one needs to be careful around those with respiratory diseases so as not to exacerbate any allergies or conditions that can cause discomfort.

Heavily scented toiletries

gels and lotionsA couple of things to bear in mind here: 1) For some going through certain types of treatment, their sense of smell might become heightened or altered in some way and so cause them to be more sensitive to smells than usual.  For me, the smell of lavender was quite sickly and I tried to avoid it as much as possible. 2) Those going through chemo and radio therapies are generally told to steer clear of cosmetics containing parabens and sulphates.  It’s unlikely that you will be told about a gift that is unsuitable so be mindful when purchasing this type of gift.

Natural remedies

natural remediesThese may seem like a really practical and useful gift – and yes, I would agree that this is a very thoughtful idea.  However, I had various herbs and natural medicines gifted to me – and I’m ashamed to say that I still have some stashed away in a cupboard somewhere.  Others I didn’t use at all and they eventually went past their sell by date. The fact is, I was very wary of consuming them in case they reacted negatively with the treatment I was going through at the time.  For this reason, it may be best to avoid buying supplements or herbal remedies due to the possibility of unexpected reactions with treatment drugs… or the possibility that they may not even get used.

Suffice it to say that when thinking of purchasing or making a gift for your loved one – choose with care!



2 thoughts on “Gifts for the sick – the best and the worst of them

  1. Hi Kim, thanks so much for sharing this! What a heartfelt article you have written obviously speaking from your own experiences. I think the shopping idea sounds fabulous and I am on the same page with the bouquet of flowers, although pretty to begin with, the generally only last a week until you have to ditch them. Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Nicole. For me it’s important to be aware that there is such a variety of ways you can show your love – it doesn’t always have to be said with flowers – lovely though they are.

      The shopping trip was great – but watch out for weight gain/loss during and after treatment.

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