When someone you love is battling illness, it’s natural to want to reach out and help in any way you can. Knowing how you can help isn’t always so clear. We asked our community of fighters to share with us what gifts helped them most when undergoing treatment. Here are some of their ideas:
Treatment and illness on their own can be draining, put them together and you have the perfect storm for crushing lethargy. So, it’s no surprise that help around the house is high on the list of wants for patients. One of our community members told us how her mother and mother-in-law would take it in turns to cook, clean, and generally look after her and her family while she was undergoing treatment. “I truly could not have done it without them,” says gingeela.
2. Mindset collages
Staying positive can be hard but for ibelieveinrachaelk, a thoughtful friend made it that little be easier with homemade mindset collages. In case you don’t know, mindset collages are similar to mood boards with positive affirmations, hopes and dreams for the future, and a sprinkling of humor.
3. Handmade gift baskets
Certain treatments can play havoc with everything from taste and smell to skin sensitivity and energy levels. Learn what your friend is struggling with and spoil them accordingly. For joannebrown1963, that included candles, magazine, chocolate, and a big hug! It truly is the thought that counts here; a little imagination and DIY and you can create some seriously personal gifts for your loved one.
Time is a limited resource, and spending ours with someone who’s having a hard time is one of the most generous things we can do. As petulaw puts it, “Come over and sit with me to talk or watch movies, do a couple of chores without asking, go to a doctor's appointment with me or surprise me and take me”. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to come armed with a few luxuries. “Basket with a good lotion, lip balm, a reusable water bottle, coupons or gift certificates, granola, neck pillow, and a colouring book with coloured pencils.”
Fighting illness demands an enormous amount of willpower and positivity. shahab_asg’s suggestion of an inspiring book could be just what’s needed. “A book written by a cancer survivor! Hope is the best gift as a fuel for fighting against cancer…”. GoodReads has a pretty extensive list of books written on or around the theme; check it out here.
Illness can be incredibly isolating and knowing that people are still thinking of you can make a huge difference. shellruth tells us, “Texts, calls, emails regularly from friends even when they know I might not return them. The reminders [that] I'm thought of and not alone are priceless and keep me going.”
Music therapy has been written about extensively  and has a huge impact on heinetime.og_808’s treatment journey. “I would turn on Metallica or Bach pet my puppy and realise that I was healing not hurting and that put it in perspective..7 months 7 years ago..knock on wood!” Consider building a playlist on Spotify for your friend, create a YouTube playlist, or burn a good old fashioned mix-CD.
8. Little luxuries with big attitude
Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference. For lightexpanding, that was socks with a bit of sass! “A friend mailed a bunch of socks with sayings like "f**k this s**t" and ‘you're beautiful, don't change’”. Keep an eye out for those little items that might help your friend feel a little more comfortable, and maybe give them a little chuckle.
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DISCLAIMER: Nothing can replace the care of your clinician or doctor. Please do not make changes to your treatment or schedules without first consulting your healthcare providers. This article is not intended to diagnose or treat illness.