15 Gifts To Give Someone With Breast Cancer

People with breast cancer revealed the best gifts they received—so you'll never have to wonder what to give.

Portrait of two friends sitting on the floor at home looking at gift
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Gift-giving isn't always the easiest job, especially when someone is experiencing health challenges.

If you know someone diagnosed with breast cancer and want to give them something that may make this difficult time a little easier, here are several ideas to consider.

Comfort Gifts

Satin Pajamas

Button-up pajamas are a must after breast cancer surgery when it can be extremely painful to lift your arms afterward. It allows for easy movement, and the silky satin material will feel luxurious.

Spa Day

A trip to the spa can be just the relaxing experience your loved one needs. You can relieve their stress with a simple yet thoughtful gift. Whether you take them out for a mani-pedi, a massage, or a facial—they're sure to leave feeling refreshed and relaxed.

Streaming Service Subscription

People with breast cancer can often use a distraction, whether it's during chemotherapy sessions or while recuperating from treatment at home—or even just for some family time. With any streaming subscription, you can watch a variety of tv shows, movies, or documentaries. Streaming services make for a great distraction or a way to spend time with your loved ones.

Their Very Own Hospital Gown

There are few things as impersonal as a hospital gown—and is it just us, or do they never fit? A personal robe could allow people with breast cancer to feel just a bit more like themselves during treatment. Something pretty, soft, and in a fun pattern is a small way for them to feel like themselves during their hospital stay.

A Comfy Sweatshirt With Inner Pockets

Some people with breast cancer leave the hospital after surgery with surgical drains, which help prevent fluid from building up around incisions. A drain is made up of a rubber tube inserted into the person's incision and has a squeezable bulb connected to it.

You can purchase short- and long-sleeve zip-up sweatshirts with concealed inner pockets to hold the drains. This ensures the drain won't get caught on anything or accidentally tugged, which can seriously hurt.

A Soft Comfy Beanie

Cancer treatment can cause hair loss for some people. Typically, chemotherapy can damage the hair follicles, which causes them to fall out. Hair loss usually starts within the first three weeks, and the scalp can become sensitive.

"You wouldn't believe how cold your head gets without hair on it!" San Diego-based Sandy Hanshaw said. Hanshaw was 46 years old when diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and later underwent a single mastectomy followed by chemotherapy and radiation. Just a few months after diagnosis, Hanshaw and her husband created Bike for Boobs, a local charity cycling event that raises money for Breast Cancer Prevention Partners.

A comfortable beanie could be just the thing your loved one is looking for. Not every breast cancer patient will lose their hair, but anyone would appreciate a cozy knit hat—especially in the winter.

A Big, Comfy Shawl

Chemotherapy and radiation facilities are notorious for being cold. A throw or a shawl can help keep someone warm and cozy during treatment, and they're a good size to fold up and toss in a bag. It might even feel more comforting than asking for a blanket at the facility.

A comfy shawl can also be worn at home while watching tv or curling up to read a book.

A Cute, Cozy Scarf

"Constant doctor's appointments, treatments, dealing with insurance, coping with side effects, all in addition to the 'typical' everyday stressors like family and work takes its toll," said New York City-based Rebecca Scheinkman, who was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in 2014. Scheinkman suggested buying anything that can help your loved one relax.

For example, Scheinkman noted that a personal de-stressor is wrapping up in a comfy scarf, especially in colder weather. And there's a scarf for every season—knit or fleece in fall and winter; silk or cotton in spring and summer.

Health-related Gifts

A Cancer-specific Cookbook

Not everyone will feel up to cooking while going through treatment, but a family member or friend might cook for them, and the cookbook can be helpful after cancer treatment is done. "I was already a very healthy person, but I wanted to learn how to make even healthier decisions after I was diagnosed," said Hanshaw.

"I got a lot of great cookbooks that are about being smart about what you're putting into your body." There are plenty of cookbooks for healthy meals, but there are also cookbooks specifically written for people with cancer.

Cooling Gloves

Chemotherapy can cause debilitating nerve damage that could leave some people with breast cancer dealing with numbness, tingling, and even difficulty using their hands. Wearing cold wraps on the hands and feet may prevent this damage. A 2017 study found that wearing frozen gloves and socks resulted in fewer signs of nerve damage in the hands and feet.

If there's a special breast cancer patient in your life with chemo ahead, consider gifting a pair of therapeutic gloves—to use with their healthcare provider's approval, of course.

Lip Balm

Hanshaw didn't experience too many life-altering side effects others often experience from chemotherapy or radiation, but dry lips were a challenge. Friends would send lotions or lip balms from Lindi Skin, which has a line of products specifically for people going through chemotherapy and another for people going through radiation treatment.

"I didn't even know about these products pre-cancer, but my friends would research and send me care packages," Hanshaw said. The products are made with antimicrobial and antifungal ingredients to help protect the skin while still being gentle enough for sensitive skin irritated by treatment.

Water Bottle

Staying hydrated is important for everyone. But for people with cancer, it's a must. Dehydration can be a side effect of cancer treatment for a variety of reasons. Sometimes iced beverages are easier to drink, so by gifting a water bottle (especially an insulated one), you're showing that you care and making it easier for them to stay hydrated.

"I take so many pills, and staying hydrated is recommended for many cancer patients' overall health while going through treatment," Scheinkman said. "I love S'well water bottles; they are really cute, easy to drink out of, keep water cold all day, and don't spill in my purse!"

Practical Gifts

Food Delivery Service Subscription

It's normal to start thinking of your most comforting casserole recipes to drop off at the home of someone with breast cancer, but "people do not realize that a lot of patients may have foods that they cannot eat," said Scheinkman.

"For example, I [couldn't] eat dairy products while on one of my treatments. A great gift I received was a gift card to an online food delivery service, [which] allowed me to pick out my own food based on what I could handle eating."

So instead of cooking, try gifting:

  • Meal kits for perfectly portioned ingredients
  • Premade meal delivery to take the brainpower out of meal prep
  • A gift card to an online delivery service that partners with local restaurants

Paper Products

You can put together packages of simple necessities, so they don't have to think about it. Paper products such as:

  • Paper towels
  • Toilet paper
  • Tissues
  • Paper plates
  • Napkins
  • Cups
  • Garbage bags

Even plastic spoons and forks could come in handy. Especially since some people going through chemo might be bothered by a metallic taste. A metallic taste could be made worse by using regular utensils.

A Cancer Planner

You can help a friend take some of the burdens off with a planner to keep track of appointments and other crucial information all in one place.

A journal could also be a good idea. "I had never been a diary writer, but cancer is life-changing," Hanshaw said. "Someone gave me a diary, and writing in it was very therapeutic. I still have it—it reminds me of what I have to be grateful for every day."

There are many ways to support someone undergoing breast cancer treatment, and giving gifts is one way to show you care. Gifts can include practical things to make life easier or self-care and comfort gifts to help them feel better in the moment. Whether it's a robe, spa trip, or lip balm—just the thought alone will show them you're thinking of them during a difficult time.

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Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. The American Society of Breast Cancer Surgeons Foundation. Surgical drains.

  2. American Cancer Society. Coping with hair loss.

  3. American Cancer Society. What is peripheral neuropathy?

  4. Hanai A, Ishiguro H, Sozu T, et al. Effects of cryotherapy on objective and subjective symptoms of paclitaxel-induced neuropathy: prospective self-controlled trial. JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2018;110(2):141-148.doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djx178

  5. American Cancer Society. Dehydration and lack of fluids.

  6. IJpma I, Renken RJ, Ter Horst GJ, Reyners AK. Metallic taste in cancer patients treated with chemotherapyCancer Treat Rev. 2015;41(2):179-186. doi:10.1016/j.ctrv.2014.11.006

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