A care package is a fun and creative way to support a loved one through mesothelioma treatment, but what items should you include? I asked 4 survivors what items were the most helpful during their treatment.

Snacks

queasy popsCancer treatments sometimes change a person’s taste in food or can nauseate them. Asking what they can and can’t eat might be easier than guessing. Here are some ideas of stomach-friendly snacks for cancer patients:

  • Hard candies
  • Chocolate
  • Crackers
  • Tea
  • Drinks

Kendra:

“Chocolate or light snacks like crackers, treatments can make a patient nauseous but also snacking can help from losing too much weight.”

Alexis:

“Lemon drops were something I practically lived on during treatment because it helped me cope with the unpleasant changes to my palate. So any time I got some hard, fruit-flavored candy was a real lifesaver. All puns intended. If you find out what your friend or loved one is into, get it for them as often as you can. They will love you for it!”

Tobyn:

“Well I won’t talk much about food because my experience is that one’s taste changes almost daily but I do suggest tea: lots of good herbal or green… Sugar free mints… Boost or Ensure, I couldn’t always tolerate them but had a huge energy difference when I could… Smart Water and Gatorade.”

Jill:

“Jolly ranchers were actually nice.”

Toiletries

coconut oilMany patients miss the nice toiletries they had at home and don’t want to spend a lot of money to buy them for the hospital. Be sure to avoid heavily scented and chemical-based items. Here are some toiletries cancer patients may appreciate:

  • Moisturizers
  • Nailcare
  • Wipes
  • Coconut oil
  • Shampoo and conditioner

Alexis:

“I cannot speak for everyone, but surgery & chemo made me feel like my body was out of control & I had a hard time feeling feminine & pretty. So I ended up with a huge nail polish collection. I could not have my nails painted when I was in hospital, but while I was at home I changed the color of my nails a lot. A nail care kit, with a buffer & maybe even some hand moisturizer might be a welcome surprise. Even the toughest guy might feel a little better after a mini manicure.”

Jill:

“For me a lot of the time I was so very sick… but I do remember two thing I had to go get and that was Vaseline and good hand cream… I would want a good toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap any type of personal cleaning items.”

Tobyn:

“Wipes, gentle or no scent, to wipe oneself as needed. Often meds cause hot flashes so these are great for that or between showers or just daily use. Get good grade, good for skin ones. Put them in your car, chemo bag, or purse as they are sooo handy… Coconut oil! You can get it on ebay, very inexpensive, great for skin, which will dry out, and this has no chemicals. Also great for hair treatment!”

Comfort

fuzzy blanketsWarm and comfortable gifts are a great idea for cancer patients to bring to the hospital with them. Many patients find themselves being cold during treatment, they may appreciate gifts like:

  • Personal blankets
  • Stuffed animals
  • Slippers
  • Fuzzy socks
  • Microwaveable hot packs
  • Knitted hats

Kendra:

“I was always cold so warm slippers or a cozy blanket.”

Alexis:

“I know that being an adult means that we are supposed to put away childish things, but having something to cuddle with while I spent days in the hospital would have been lovely. Especially late at night when it seemed like I missed being at home the most.”

Jill:

“I was in the hospital one Christmas day, they gave everyone a gift, it was one of the softest throws I had ever came on contact with. I still have it and would never go into the hospital without it.”

Tobyn:

“A nice lap quilt as legs often get chilled, especially during treatments and a shawl or zip up front sweatshirt, easy on and off as one’s temperature can really fluctuate a lot.”

Support

greeting card and teddy bearThe best thing a mesothelioma patient can receive from family and friends is support. Show your support with a heartfelt letter or by helping them out with chores. Be wary of generic “get well soon” greeting cards because some can be depressing to a patient. Try making your own or finding a card that’s made specifically to cheer up cancer patients. Here are some gifts to show your support:

  • Upbeat cards
  • Letters
  • Gift cards
  • Meals
  • Inspirational mugs

Kendra:

“One of the things that meant the most to me were cards & handwritten notes with support & words of encouragement. The second thing that meant the most were meals delivered for my family. It was such a help to receive dinners for my family, it took the pressure off my husband & me to have to cook. Plus it was always a surprise to see what was for dinner.”

Stuff to Do

crossword puzzleMesothelioma patients spend a lot of time in the hospital for their treatments. They also spend a lot of time at home healing instead of doing their usual tasks. In a gift basket you can include relaxing ways to stay occupied. Here are some ideas:

  • Crossword puzzles
  • Books
  • Journals
  • Movies
  • Coloring books

Kendra:

“Inspirational or easy read small books, gift certificates for manicure, pedicure, massage. A blank journal if the patient likes to write or sketch.”

Alexis:

“Books, magazines, or if your favorite survivor is someone like me who reads e-books in equal measure, a gift card for iTunes or Kindle. Treatment time is often stretched out & seems to last forever, so to have a mental escape is a lovely thing.”

Tobyn:

“About halfway through chemo treatments I found I couldn’t read as it made me dizzy so audiobooks were good… Movies: either discs or a subscription to Netflix or such if possible. I found watching fast movement made me dizzy so nothing too actiony. Adult coloring books and a selection of markers, crayons, paints. I couldn’t alway do it as sometimes it made me dizzy, but it was great when I could.”

Show Sources & Author

  1. The Best and Worst Gifts for a Cancer Patient: Tips From a Survivor. HealDove. Retrieved from: https://healdove.com/disease-illness/The-Best-and-Worst-Gifts-for-a-Cancer-Patient-Survivors-Tips. Accessed: 3/22/17.
  2. How to Create a Cancer Care Package. University of Utah Healthcare. Retrieved from: http://healthcare.utah.edu/healthfeed/postings/2014/06/061614_create-cancer-care-package.php. Accessed: 3/20/17.

About the Writer, Jamie Iovino

Jamie Iovino is the senior writer at Mesothelioma Guide. She creates and edits pages to make sure mesothelioma patients and their families receive the newest and most accurate information about mesothelioma.