Christmas Gifts for Cancer Patients

by Jo Burns

People often don't know what to say or do for a friend or loved one who is facing a major health challenge. The awkward feeling can compound during the Christmas season when societal and family traditions are focused on joy and celebration. If someone on your Christmas gift list is undergoing treatment for cancer, don't hesitate to ask that person what he or she needs to make the holiday season more festive. The cancer patient will appreciate your candid effort and you will know you are giving him or her a gift that is truly wanted.

Gift of Time

During the holiday season, a cancer patient may find he does not have the energy to participate in the traditions he normally enjoys. If this is the case, a gift of your time may be more appreciated than a material gift. Offer to spend an afternoon shopping for the items on his Christmas list, addressing Christmas cards, wrapping gifts, or mailing packages. With his permission, hire a professional to hang Christmas lights on his home or organize a small tree-trimming party with a few of this close friends. Offer to bake Christmas cookies in his kitchen so he can not only enjoy the tradition holiday baked goods, but so he can also enjoy having company and the cheerful smell of homemade cookies wafting through his home.

Practical Gifts

Cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy or frequent hospital visits will appreciate a portable bag filled with items she can use while receiving therapy. Fill a Christmas-themed tote bag with medicated lip balm, mints, and a bottle of water to combat dry mouth. Include a deck of cards, crossword puzzles, a hand-held video game, or a portable CD player and audio book to pass the time. A personal calendar for keeping track of appointments, or hats and scarves for those who have lost their hair during cancer treatment are also practical Christmas gifts that will be appreciated.

Inspirational Gifts

If the cancer patient on your Christmas gift list enjoys inspirational literature, give him one or more or the many books written to inspire and lighten the heart of those dealing with cancer. The cancer resource website OncoLink recommends "Cancer Has its Privileges: Stories of Hope and Laughter," by Christine Clifford, "Cancer Schmancer," by Fran Drescher, and "I'm Not Lance! A Cancer Experience and Survival Guide for Mere Mortals," by Scott P. Alcott. Give a daily journal for recording personal insights and struggles.

Family-Oriented Gifts

Sometimes the greatest gift a cancer patient can receive is one that has nothing to do with being sick. Purchase Christmas gifts that allow patients with families to have fun and bond with their children, parents, siblings, or spouses. Boardgames, humorous DVDs, tickets to a local zoo, amusement park, activity center, or holiday-themed event will allow everyone to have a day when cancer is not at the center of their lives.