Show Your Love With a Cancer Care Package
Each year about 180,000 U.S. women are diagnosed with breast cancer. If your friend or family member is one of them, you can make her a tender-loving-cancer-care (TLCC) kit. We've assembled some ideas to get you started, but you know your friend best. Don't be afraid to get creative!
Informative Reference Book, such as Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book. "The Internet is often too unfiltered and overwhelming," says breast-cancer surgeon Jocelyn Dunn.
Notebook With Matching Pen. That way your friend can take notes easily when she is visiting her doctors, Dunn explains. It's a great way to keep track of appointments and jot down questions and answers.
iPod or Personal DVD Player: Your friend will like being able to listen to music or watch movies during chemotherapy appointments, which can last anywhere from 30 minutes to eight hours a day for at least three weeks, says Kimberly Stump-Sutliff, R.N., an advanced oncology clinical nurse specialist and assistant medical editor for the American Cancer Society. "Anything to while away hours."
Waiting-Room Diversions: The patient will likely spend a lot of time waiting for a slew of appointments. Breast-cancer survivor Jodell Gahr suggests a crossword puzzle book to pass the time. Also try...
Fun Page-Turners: Mary Higgins Clark or Stieg Larsson, anyone? Magazines are good too.
Business-Card Holder: So your friend can easily collect business cards from all the doctors she will see.
Tote Bag or Pilot Case: She'll need some help schlepping her many notebooks, books and other supplies. Find something sturdy in a cute print she'll enjoy.
Jewelry for the Cause: Check out the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Susan G. Komen for the Cure to see how you can support research with beautiful baubles. (And be sure to click through myStyle's Shop Pink gallery for other ideas.)
Scar Cream: "For those who've had surgery, it's nice," says breast-cancer survivor June DeJonge.
Personally Knitted or Crocheted Hat: Cute headgear will keep her warm and provide some camouflage if she loses her hair.
High-Quality Moisturizer and Foot Lotion: Cancer patients can get dry skin, says Gahr. But they need "pure things," so chemical-free brands are best.
Pampering Products: Gahr suggests lipstick, makeup—and chocolate.
Movies That Move Her: Give her a one-year subscription to Netflix and she'll be able to find a film that suits whatever mood she's in.
Restaurant Gift Certificate: Your friend may want to use it the night before surgery, says Dunn.
Lovingly Planted Garden: Gather a posse of friends to create one at her home. "It helped me enjoy my backyard so much," says survivor Anna Marie Porras. And instead of sending flowers, plant some! They last longer, and they don't get thrown away.
Headcovers Unlimited Registry: The site sells hats, turbans and wigs for those suffering from hair loss.
Blanket: Your friend may feel cold during treatment, and not all centers provide blankets. Even if they do, it's nicer to use one from a friend (whether purchased or crocheted), says Stump-Sutliff.
Fruit and Bottled Water: Most outpatient clinics don't provide food, says Stump-Sutliff. Pack 'em in a...
Thermal Lunch Bag: That way your friend can keep her food and drinks cold when she's getting chemotherapy.
Functional Fashion: Choose loose-fitting shirts, sweatshirts and pajamas that button up the front; they're easier to get on and off after surgery, says Dunn. And don't forget...
Slippers: Dunn says adorable ones are fun to wear in the hospital.
Massage Gift Certificate: If it's for use during chemo or after surgery, call ahead to make sure the spa or massage parlor has someone on staff who is trained to work with cancer patients.
Hand Sanitizer: It's important to keep germs as far away as possible.
Rubber Gloves and Gardening Gloves: If your friend needs her lymph nodes removed, she'll need to be extremely careful about getting cuts due to increased risk for an irreversible condition called lymphedema, says Christina Koenig, a breast-cancer survivor and spokesman for the Breast Cancer Network of Strength.
A Kitty Cat—Not! Cancer patients need to be wary of potential sources of bacterial infection. So pets, no matter how cuddly, are not good gifts for anyone going through chemotherapy, says Stump-Sutliff.
What to Eat During Cancer Treatment: This American Cancer Society cookbook includes 100 nutritious recipes for cancer patients (and their caregivers). Think pineapple-mango slushies and crunchy Asian salad.