The holiday season can often be challenging for patients and caregivers, and a thoughtful gift is one way to provide a little relief, distraction, and comfort. We spoke with New York Proton Center social worker Chrissy Rubin, LCSW about some of the do’s and don’ts of holiday gift-giving for patients, their loved ones and their care providers.
Comforting Gifts for Patients
For patients, the process of cancer treatment can be physically and emotionally exhausting – so the gift of comfort can be greatly appreciated. Cozy items like fuzzy socks, sweatshirts, pajama sets and blankets can bring warmth and relief to patients undergoing treatment. Consider other relaxation aids like microwavable neck pillows and calming teas as another way to support self-care.
You can also provide loved ones who are going through cancer treatment with more practical gifts that can ease some of the day-to-day headaches of treatment: grocery and food delivery service gift cards and Amazon gift cards are great options. Undergoing treatment can be very stressful, and alleviating the pressure of everyday tasks like grocery, toiletry, and household product shopping can be a huge relief.
Cancer treatment involves long periods of boredom, so gifts that provide entertainment or distraction can be very welcome. Suggestions include: books, movie tickets, magazine and streaming service subscriptions, craft kits, coloring books and plants – depending on the interests of the person you’re gift shopping for. When in doubt, ask close family members for personalized suggestions; tailoring your gift shows consideration for the individual’s needs.
Avoid selecting items with strong smells that could irritate or cause nausea for patients. Stay clear of strongly scented products such as perfumes, and opt for unscented lotions and candles. Dietary restrictions should also be considered, as some patients may find their ability to eat might be impaired or could be suffering from treatment-induced nausea. Opt for soft, easily consumable snacks, and be aware of potential nausea triggers.
The Gift of Self-Care Gift for Caregivers
Caregivers spend their time taking care of others, and it can often be difficult to find moments for themselves. In expressing gratitude to those supporting someone’s treatment, consider gifts that prioritize self-care.
Treat caregivers to stress relieving gifts like spa or massage gift certificates, creating moments of comfort and relaxation amidst demanding schedules. Other small indulgences like hand creams, lip balms and snacks tend to be universally enjoyed and can bring cheer in difficult times. Gift cards to stores and restaurants offer flexibility, allowing your gift recipient to choose something that brings them joy and perhaps have a celebratory dinner with the patient when treatment has ended.
For healthcare providers, consider handwritten thank-you notes acknowledging their contributions – these can make someone’s day!
It’s important to think about the people in your life all year round, but especially during the holidays. Remember, the power of a thoughtful gesture can bring immense joy during challenging times. Let’s make this holiday season a little brighter for our loved ones impacted by cancer, and the people working tirelessly to care for them.
Chrissy Rubin, LCSW is part of the New York Proton Center’s Patient Support team. To learn more about the NYPC care team and how we offer holistic patient support during your proton therapy treatment, contact us and we’ll connect you with a member of our team.