So your friend, mom, or co-worker has cancer. You want to show your support, so you set out to buy a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a Get Well card. You don’t think about gifts for cancer patients at first.
At the flower shop you’re inundated with the card selection. You finally settle on one with pretty light pink lilies and roses on the front, which match the flowers you’re sending. The writing on the inside of the card says, “Sending you best wishes to make you feel better. Get Well Soon.” You sign your name in your nicest handwriting and seal it. You sigh with satisfaction, knowing you’ve done your part to show you care. — But you’re wrong.
What you just did was show sympathy, and that’s the last thing that cancer patients want. As an oncology nurse and daughter of a breast cancer survivor, I’ve seen this all too many times.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, when someone is diagnosed with cancer, they don’t want you to feel sorry for them. And they don’t necessarily want you to be their always-cheerful-no-matter-what cheerleader either. The happy medium is there somewhere, and it’s different for every patient, since coping skills vary, but if you care enough, you’ll develop the knack of giving them the support they want.
There’s no secret formula to finding out how your loved one prefers to be supported, and it’s possible they don’t know either. But when it comes to gift-giving and card-sending, there are three simple guidelines to win that precious Best Cancer Friend Ever title:
Steer Clear of Sympathy. If you’re sending a card, make it a funny or uplifting one. And if you can, mention cancer directly instead of avoiding it, and reassure your friend that you will be there for him/her whenever they need you.
Flowers are for Funerals! I’ve heard numerous times from my patients that they hate getting flowers because it makes them feel like they’re already dead to the person sending them. Patients usually prefer something they can wear, which is more personal than flowers, and will make them feel truly thought of.
Send Often. Cards and gifts are not just for birthdays and Christmas. When you have cancer, you need the assurance that people are thinking of you and/or praying for you all the time. Once per month should be the minimum time period for which you send a card and gift.
Of course, the most important thing you can do for your friend is to spend time with them. If you tell your friend with cancer that you want to be there for them, than do it. This means you come over with goodies, hand deliver your gifts, and listen to them when they need to vent.
To send the perfect card or gift for your loved one, check out our online store with over 50 different cards and gifts for cancer patients. There are funny cards and shirts for every cancer occasion. But here’s our classic best seller, a dog pissing on cancer, which comes in shirts and totes too! They all focus on humor and encouragement. Your friend will love you for it.