When someone we know gets colorectal cancer, we tend to want to do something for them. One thing we can do is come up with a thoughtful gift. Socks? Pajamas? Those are common gifts — sometimes a little too common! Here are some ideas that might be more useful.
Personal goods & services
Health & beauty products
Traditional hygiene products contain lots of chemicals, chemicals that can be harsh, particularly for cancer patients. Deodorants and toothpaste (how about Burt’s Bees or David’s?) are essential goods. Especially for colorectal patients, soft toilet paper really matters. Charmin Ultra Soft Cushiony Touch Toilet Paper is a good choice.
The Beautycounter line includes products for skincare, makeup, and bath. Dermasil is a lotion that is recommended for very dry skin; an alternative option is lotion (and lip balm) from PhysAssist. Soaps (like Aspen Kay Turmeric or Dr. Squatch) and shampoo and conditioner (PURA D'OR is organic and helps to thicken hair) can round out basic personal care gift-giving.
Cancer means pills, so a good pill dispenser is very pragmatic.
You no longer need a second person to operate massager devices. This article by Byrdie has a top and a budget recommendation for deep-tissue massagers.
Physical health and mental health are interrelated, so how about a bird feeder and birdseed? This would add some nature to a person’s surroundings, which contributes both calm and joy.
Or a gratitude journal (no matter how dark the day, remembering the good things is important for maintaining good mental health).
A sturdy tote with a wide bottom is really helpful for carrying all the helpful “stuff” to medical appointments. (Another tote option is through the Alliance; check here!) A great moisturizing lip balm, like Palmer’s, is a great addition. To help with nausea, get Nyakers Gingerbread Cookies, or LIFE SAVERS Mints, or Tummydrops peppermints. And, in case nausea gets too bad, include vomit bags.
Also, consider items that help to pass the time, such as coloring books and pencils, or Sudoku.
Make a photo book for your friend or loved one; include pictures of them with you, with other friends, and with other family members. Write notes in the margins, detailing the memories or the reasons why you love them. Or set up a photo session with a professional photographer for them; again, gather up friends and family members (including pets!) to participate.
One service that would provide not only a great byproduct (a book of your loved one’s life story), but also a useful, year-long distraction, is StoryWorth. With this service, you choose a question from their extensive library of questions or come up with your own, and your loved one responds in writing and with any photos via email. Also, StoryWorth works with any Westernized languages (such as Spanish and French), not just English! At the end of the year, a keepsake book is produced, with additional copies available for ordering.
Home goods & services
Safe cleaning products
Similar to personal hygiene products, home cleaning products tend to be heavy on chemicals. Chemicals that can, over time, and especially during chemotherapy, be hard on our bodies. Window cleaner, duster, dishwashing liquid, laundry — all of these chemicals add up. Healthline offers this nicely itemized list of recommended safe cleaning products.
Smart home technology
Lots of high-tech products are available for our homes nowadays, to simplify and automate everyday tasks. Certainly, smart speakers, and/or smart displays, which enable voice control from other smart devices, are starter options.
But there’s so much more, too. Wyze light bulbs, which come in color as well as traditional white, are controlled by voice; you can change from ultra bright to candlelight dimness, and even the color temperature (from utility white to a more ambient yellow glow).
Smart plugs — such as the Kasa Smart Plug Mini — for turning lights on and off via app or voice are also an easy and inexpensive place to start. Another good Kasa product? Their smart power strip not only provides surge protection but is also programmable via app or voice. A video doorbell, such as from Arlo or Ezviz, can be really nifty, particularly for responding to unexpected visits and drop-offs.
Along with purchasing the product(s), offer to help your friend or loved one with getting the devices all set up for them; make it start-to-finish easy.
We all need food, and lots of it. Grocery-shopping can be such a chore, and even takeout can be exhausting. Simplify the food-sourcing process for someone with gift cards from Instacart for grocery stores and Grubhub for restaurant deliveries. Doordash does both.
Another gift idea that can go a long way is a home cleaning service. Just check beforehand that the service avoids using chemical-heavy cleaning products.
Hopefully, this article gives you some less common, yet practical, gift ideas for the colorectal cancer patient or survivor in your life. Also, check out the Colorectal Cancer Alliance store for more ideas!
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