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Gifts for the Cancer Patient and Caregivers

Comfort and Warmth

Socks. Seriously. Socks. I got wool socks and slippery fuzzy socks and If You Can Read This Bring Me Coffee socks. And my feet would have been so cold otherwise. But now they are both warm and funny. Before that, I only had running socks, not great for the hospital or Minnesota winter.

Softest blanket in the world. Softest anything in the world. Don’t worry about color or style. One of my best friends sent me a red and white blanket and what I see when I snuggle up with it (literally every time I sleep or sit ever since surgery), I only see her, our friendship, and her care for me. Of course the color is beautiful because she is awesome and has good taste.

Cute and comfortable clothes that fit around their particular cancer. Shirts or sweaters with low, open necks for head or neck cancers, that easily pull over their heads or are button up so they don’t have to pull them on at all.

Slouchy pants. For the hospital, for after, for looking relaxed but stylish, with pants that are easy to pull on and off if they are in pain, exhausted, or need to get them off right.now! (like this pair from Athleta)

Ice packs or heating pads. These might be for the wound, if surgery. For the burning sensation after radiation, or for snuggling with during the wild roller coaster rides of hot flashes and chills.

 

Soul Food

Soup. Chicken noodle, chicken wild rice, tomato, black bean, tortilla soup…soup. Warm, easy to swallow, healthy, delicious. Homemade or from a restaurant or the deli section of a grocery store…

Chocolate. Any and all. (the link is for Lindt. Hint, hint.)

Mints. Something to suck on during waiting room periods or after bad tasting treatments or to counter the grossness of medicines. (this is a link for specifically Fight Cancer mints. Starlite mints are also delish.)

Gift card to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. Some kinds of chemo or radiation (or my treatment: RAI radioactive iodine) can affect taste buds. Either by burning them, swelling them, or just changing them. I threw out a cup of coffee one day because it tasted like burned metal. Made a second cup, from the same beans, and it tasted great. Weird. #blamethecancer So a gift card enables the patient to get what might taste right that day, to their weird taste buds.

 

Beauty and Humanity

Pedicure or manicure. Also, pretty nail polish, again a gift idea for people like me, who don’t have a lot of disposable cash. Or, ask if you can give them a pedicure or manicure yourself.

Do their makeup, or hold up a mirror so they can do it. Especially if they are in the hospital for a few days. The first day I put on makeup (and I am an extreme minimalist in terms of beauty products), I felt my morale swing upwards.

Lotion. Skin dries out from treatments, cold, surgery.

Essential oils. My doctor even had some for me to put on my surgical gown. Hospitals and sick rooms smell gross. This can really pick up the mood. (I haven’t used the product specifically linked to here, full disclosure)

Cute headbands, scarves, or hats. Even if they haven’t lost their hair, or won’t, they might be cold if they’re in the hospital for a while, or just want to feel pretty while their face is puffy and their scars heal. There are a lot of cute ones out there.

Hair appointment. Depending, this one is sensitive, I know, so check in on how they are feeling and doing with their hair. My kind of cancer and treatment (most likely) does not affect hair. Maybe a hair cut or color, maybe just a fun up-do.

Time out together, or in their home or hospital room when you don’t talk about cancer. I’m so thankful that I got to participate in my soon-to-be new sister-in-law’s wedding dress appointment and cake tasting. I was exhausted and have foggy memories of these events as they were three days post-surgery, but I’m so glad I could participate and feel human and also celebrate and focus on someone else for a while (she’s awesome, way to go, Kevin!). A friend had to drive me to these events, and wait for me, and drive me back. What service and practical love that showed me.

 

Entertainment

Movies (even a list of suggested titles, no need to spend a lot of money. Chemo brain fog or post surgery exhaustion makes it hard to make decisions or even remember things, like what we were watching before)

Puzzles. I do puzzles as mindless, relaxing therapy. In fact, I have an article forthcoming from the New York Times(!) about just this thing. A friend sat with me, three days post-surgery, and we did a hot air balloon puzzle as long as I could stay sitting up. We talked and I felt like I wasn’t utterly boring to her, and also that I had been mildly productive.

Books. Audio or print or digital.

Or gift cards for these things.

 

Stress Relief

Tea. Chamomile, turmeric, lemon ginger, apple cinnamon, vanilla…

Sleep mask.

Massage. A gift card or just give them one when you visit. Again, this isn’t about big money. You’re visiting, that’s awesome. Rub their feet or their hands or their shoulders. Post-surgery, my upper back ached like crazy, from the position my head had been in during surgery.

Cancer Sucks mug. I put this under stress relief because it is funny, which relieves stress. My sister sent me mine and when I drink from it, it gives me a little reminder that yeah, this is hard. Coffee (or tea or hot chocolate) is also delicious. It tells me to enjoy the deliciousness in the midst of the sucky thing. In other words, to fight for joy and to be thankful.

Something for their spouse and children. Babysitting, date night, something fun and not cancer related, a chance to be a kid or a man or a woman.

**

Merry Christmas and I hope that whoever in your life has cancer will feel blessed, held, comforted, provided for, and loved. And that, you, the caregiver and loved one also feel blessed, held, comforted, provided for, and loved.

Any other great ideas for cancer patient gifts?

p.s. This is also a list for cancer patient caregivers. You need lovin’, too.

*contains affiliate links

Gift Ideas for Runners, 2017

Runners just need shoes, right? Technically, yes. Plus shorts, t-shirts, sports bras, socks, entrance fees, magazines, GU, vaseline, cheerleaders, good podcasts, headphones, armbands, water bottles, massages…need quickly becomes relative, but there are some items that are super awesome for runners, and that make each run less challenging.

What, specifically, might the runner in your life appreciate? Here are some ideas.

 

Once a Runner

I haven’t read this yet, but I should. I hear that every runner should. It has a sort of cult following among runners. I’ve read excerpts.

Run Fast. Eat Slow.

Shalane Flanagan (winner!! of the New York City Marathon, 2017) and Elyse Kopecky wrote this fantastic cookbook for runners. Delicious food, nothing complicated, all designed with the runner in mind. I’m a big fan of their Superhero Muffins and so many other recipes.

Run Gum

I heard about this on a podcast, in an interview with Nick Symmonds who created Run Gum.

TomTom Spark Watch

I got this last year for Christmas and I still absolutely love it. I use it every single day. I tore the band and the sent me a new one. It holds podcasts, music, does GPS for all my runs, is easily programmed to buzz during intervals or tempo training. You can read more of my thoughts on this watch here.

 

Gu, Nuun, gel blocks

Gus may feel slimy going down but they really do make a difference on long, sweaty runs. Gatorade gives me diarrhea, so I’m all about these other energy sources. I like Gu because it goes down easy, I like the blocks because they allow me to spread out my intake. Nuun are electrolyte tablets I add to my water when I get home after a sweaty run and they help kick start recovery. All of these things can also be done naturally, bananas, dates, chocolate milk, etc. And these processed items get kind of gross when during really, epic-long training. But they are easy to pack, store, and travel with. They make great stocking stuffers.

Headphones

Bluetooth, like these, are amazing. No more getting tangled up in my cords.

Or, I love these for how they fit around my ears and don’t chafe and don’t cost a billion bucks.

 

Foam Roller

Essential for post workout recovery. I use mine on my hips, especially.

Hair Band

If you have wispy hair or short hair and want to keep it out of your face but don’t want bands that will slide off your head, check these out. They stay on, they look cute, and they are super affordable.

Non-rash causing sports bra

Why are we still talking about problems with sports bras? Even expensive ones? Who thought sports bras need to have big, fat, abrasive seams? I get rashes on my sternum, my shoulders, my chest, even my back. They chafe and bleed. Finally, I found a sports bra that doesn’t make me bleed. Still supportive (for the smaller-chested among us), still affordable, no more scarring.

 

Compression Socks

After a long run, the feeling of something gently squeezing my feet feels divine. These socks just plain feel good. They also help with recovery. But still, they just feel good. Your running friend’s feet will be happy.

Toe Nails

I asked my mom for these and while I thought moms were supposed to give their beloved children whatever we wanted, she didn’t. I don’t even think she tried. But then, she didn’t need to! I didn’t lose my toe nails after all. See, Asics changed the shoes I’ve used for over a decade. They shrank the toe box. Since I live way over here, about a 20-hour flight from a decent shoe store, I used to order and order the same ones. I can’t do that anymore (thanks a lot Asics). I took a risk on a new brand and I scored. I cut up my Asics to make room for my toes and when I logged too many miles in those shoes, I turned to my new Brooks Ghost. And I fell in love. So much room for my toes to wiggle and turn and not squash into each other! And my nails stopped bruising. I just might keep them. Thanks anyway, mom.

Not the cheapest shoes out there, I try to buy last season’s shoes and that usually shaves $40 off, which makes them excellent quality and a more affordable price.

Runners, what do you love to get or give for gifts?

*affiliate links included

Gift Ideas for Writers, 2017

Here comes gift-giving season. (There are definitely affiliate links in this post).

What to buy for the writer in your life? Speaking from experience, here are some awesome gifts to both receive and to give. Gifts that will encourage, support, and inspire.

Coffee Mugs

I love this one, with Jane Austen quotes

And this one, with Cheryl Strayed’s signature quote, “Write like a mother f*er.”

 

Scrivener

To quote their website, scrivener is

“For writing. And writing. And writing.

Scrivener is the go-to app for writers of all kinds, used every day by best-selling novelists, screenwriters, non-fiction writers, students, academics, lawyers, journalists, translators and more. Scrivener won’t tell you how to write—it simply provides everything you need to start writing and keep writing.”

I just started using Scrivener in November and wish I had started long ago. Instead of using paper index cards, spreading them all over my living room floor and sweating because the ceiling fan would destroy the meticulously arranged piles, I could have used the handy digital index card tool. Scrivener has so many other useful tools, I’m still figuring it all out.

A standard license costs $45.00

 

 

The Artist’s Way

“A course in discovering and recovering your creative self.”

I checked this out from my Kindle library, not realizing it is actually designed to be a course with tools and ideas to be implemented over time. Sadly, my checkout period ended far before I had time to finish, but I could already tell this is an incredibly useful tool and resource for inspiring creativity of all kinds.

Available, currently, for $13.29 from Amazon

A writing class

There are so many options for writing classes: in person, online, in small groups, in large communities.

For the writer you love, you could check out Gotham Writer’s Workshops, The Loft Literary Center, and Jeff Goins’ Tribe Writers, to name a few.

Prices vary widely

An afternoon or evening of free babysitting

For parents of small children, this communicates that you both enjoy their kids (hopefully!) and that you value their creative endeavors. A large chunk of time spent concentrating on the work can make a huge amount of difference, especially in the lives of longer projects or work that requires uninterrupted thinking and wrestling.

Small candy


I seem to concentrate better (and have fewer excuses to leave my desk) if I have either gum or pieces of small candy. I’ve heard this from other writers, too. These serve as rewards: finish three pages and eat a Swedish Fish. Or, they serve as mindless things to nibble while untangling a conundrum on the page. One at at time is the key for making this work and for not later rolling away from the desk instead of walking. Nerds, one by one, though? Not sure that would be as effective. I like hard candy or chewing, like Werthers, Starlite mints, Mike N’ Ikes, or gumdrops. And I will never acknowledge how many Swedish Fish I have eaten over the course of writing this book.

These make great stocking stuffers.

 

Bird by Bird

Writers need this book, by Anne Lamott, and they need to read it again and again.

On Writing

Same with this one, by Stephen King.

Walking on Water

And this book, by Madeline l’Engle

Writers, what do you love to give and receive for holidays or birthdays or at random, gifting moments?

By |December 6th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized, Writing|Tags: , , |0 Comments