What are good “thinking of you” gifts for someone undergoing chemotherapy?


Q: I have a friend who has had breast removal surgery and is starting chemo. Since she isn't able to eat much, what would be good things to give her in a "thinking of you” basket?

A: It’s very thoughtful of you to consider your friend’s condition when selecting items for a gift basket. You can give food items if they’re the right type. To avoid triggering nausea and related problems, don’t give candy, cake, pie, or other rich desserts, food with strong odors or which is fatty, greasy, or spicy. What does that leave? Good choices include herbal or spiced teas, gourmet pancake mix, mild fruit (apples, grapes, bananas), nuts, trail mix (without candy), and pretzels. Many people on chemotherapy eat only small, light meals and snacks.

Your friend might also appreciate skin lotions and creams to use on her body and scalp, lip balm, or hand sanitizing solutions (to reduce infection risk). Smaller sizes are more convenient to take along for treatment sessions. To avoid irritation or allergic reaction, make sure that cosmetic items are mild and unscented or only very lightly scented. You might also consider giving books with short sections—such as humor, stories, or hobby information—to help the time pass more quickly during treatment.

--Bernice Crook, RN, OCN

Understand the importance of having a social network during treatment.

This content was last reviewed August 15, 2010 by Dr. Reshma L. Mahtani.
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