My aunt was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Yes, it sucks. But yes, they caught it early, so luckily it shouldn’t suck too badly (other than the fact that she now has to watch this the rest of her life and go through these oh-so-enjoyable treatments). And, on the bright side, I’m elated she is in a situation where she has doctors and medical facilities in her area that could find it early and treat it, unlike many women/men in this country and others who I’m sure don’t have access to great care, or healthcare at all. (Which is why my family and I did the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer for so many years – but that’s for another post!)
My aunt is my dad’s younger sister (he has 5 total!), and one of the great things about my family is how we are not only close on a regular basis, but when something goes especially great or especially not so great, we band together and make sure that person is getting some focused attention and positive energy.
Their youngest sister got us all set up with a schedule of weekly slots for the family to send her gifts, suggesting food, flowers, and fun things to make her weeks of chemo go by a little more smoothly.
My mother is a breast cancer survivor, and when she was going through her weeks of chemo and radiation treatments I lived close by and was able to be with her on the weekends she had her treatments. That helped take the burden off of my father for doing things around the house, and allowed him some time to get out of the house while I tended to my mother. I am unable to do that for my aunt, so I offered to do a gift basket, thinking I’d fill it with helpful things, like lotions, creams, teas, and cozy “cancer” items to make these treatments more bearable.
I asked my mom for her opinion on these items before I just went out and bought them, just in case the helpful Pinterest suggestions weren’t going to be as good as I thought.
She surprised me when she said said, “When you’re going through chemo, you don’t want reminders that you’re sick. I received tons of things I never used because they were new products and there is enough else to focus on. Get her a comfy robe.”
I thought, “Well, I don’t want to get her a robe” because she a) either already has one or b) is not the robe-wearing kind of woman, so I thought I’d amend my basket of goodies to be more about fun and less about cancer. My aunt is hilarious, and has a dry sense of humor; she introduced me to the likes of George Carlin, and also gave me a joke crude enough to win a challenge at a fraternity house, so I thought I’d focus on comedy while including some comfort items.
I wanted to keep it relatively inexpensive but make sure it was packed with good things. Here’s what I bought at Target for about $60.
Comfort Items (all under $6)
Ankle height white cozy socks (I just found the white pair, not all three)
Shin height pink/white/red cozy socks
Knee height red cozy socks (just the red pair)
Regular Chapstick (unscented)
Frosted animal crackers
Deck of cards
Pair of Wonder Woman underwear
I found two bright gift bags
and packed each with a theme:
and For Fun:
Side note: My aunt loves cats. I found the Grumpy Cat book at Target and thought it would be perfect, but I started flipping through it and one of the pages said something like, “Whatever doesn’t kill you… isn’t trying hard enough.” So I thought maaaaaaybe not the right time for this…so instead, I printed out some of the Grumpy Cat memes and taped them on the front of each gift to make her laugh:
I can’t wait to mail it to her! It’s great to have a reminder for me that my initial idea, which was just about trying to help, might not have been the best direction. It’s nice to know there are ways to support cancer patients without doom and gloom.
Did you have a friend or family member go through a difficult time? What did you do to help them take their mind off of it?