Gift Baskets For Cancer Patients

We LOVE flowers.  They are beautiful and they make us feel good...sometimes.
Personally, I have developed allergies and sensitivities to so many flowers and fragrances (yes - especially candles and plug-in air fresheners) that I yearn for alternative methods for brightening my home and compensating for the absence of flora and fauna. However, I am fortunate.  Cancer patients have many sensitivities during their treatment that should be taken into consideration.

Gift Baskets filled with helpful items instead of flowers is definitely a winner.

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Here are a few lesser known facts that may influence your gift-giving experience for cancer patients:

1. Did you know that chemo patients often experience a heightened sense of smell called "hyperosmia"?  Many common smells and odors that once may have been pleasant can suddenly become nauseating to the patient.  Fragrance free lotions, soaps and candles are nice gift alternatives.

2.  Cancer and its treatment can affect the skin.  It's important to take care of the skin using natural ingredients without perfumes or chemicals.  Cuticles often become dry, damaged and painful.
Again, use all natural products, especially those that are PARABEN and SULFATE FREE.

3. Did you know that some oncology patients experience a disruption of their circadian activity rhythms?  This sleep-wake pattern which may have normally been unaffected can suddenly change creating difficulty sleeping at night and make sleep during the day a challenge.  The use of an eye mask, ear plugs and comfortable loungewear can help when the patient may need to sleep during the day.

4. There are natural anti-nausea and comforting items available without chemicals. For ages, Ginger and Peppermint has been used to help alleviate queasiness.  Cooling towels, pillows and ice packs also help to quell the effects of nausea.

5.  Chemotherapy is widely known for causing hair loss, however, radiation can sometimes cause the patient to lose hair.  Many patients report that the loss of hair contributes to feeling cold, especially as they sleep.  Although head covering is purely a personal choice, it is nice to have a soft and breathable chemo beanie for sleep or wearing to warm up.

6.  Although flowers are beautiful, they do tend to remind us of our own mortality when they only last but a few days and we watch the once beautiful flower wither away.  People also send flowers to funerals, so although the giver's intentions are good, there can be a subliminal message to the receiver.  Any patient facing a serious illness needs no additional reminders of his/her own mortality.

7.  Does anyone ever really use the little basket that arrives in gift baskets?  Really?  Okay - maybe you put some junk in it underneath your cabinet?  A more practical choice could be a nice tote bag or duffle bag to carry the patient's clothes home from the hospital or rehab or maybe to tote all of their items to chemo treatment.  Blankets, scarves, throws and neck pillows make the day in the chemo chair a little easier, too.

8.  Don't forget the kids.  They're still kids.  They love what all kids love.  Gifts for Kids With Cancer include stuffed animals, activity books, ear buds, monogrammed backpacks.  Make sure you send happy, vibrant colors like it's their birthday.  That makes everyone feel good.

9.  Did you know that cancer patients send a lot of thank you notes?  There are a lot of people that help take care of them and check up on them.  Journals, thank you notes and stationery are very practical and useful gifts since the patient will say "thank you" a lot and keep a bunch of notes.

10.  Inspirational jewelry is a great choice.  However, be sure not to go overboard and get an incorrect cancer awareness color or theme.  Something simple, elegant and beautiful can look great all the time a be a constant reminder to the patient that you are thinking of them.