One of my readers, Heather, sent me a note about a topic she feels passionately about – and I agreed to share her message with you. I think she’s on to a great idea for this post, and if you know someone struggling with health issues, this might help you too.
Heather is an 11-year mesothelioma cancer survivor. The holidays were a hard time for her family and friends, from splitting time between home and the hospital to figuring out what gifts were appropriate for someone who was just diagnosed. She found herself getting sick or nauseous from all the food baskets, and she couldn’t drink the caffeinated teas. But to this day she is extremely grateful for the gifts that were geared toward her as a person and not the illness. Here’s some of what she said of her experience:
“I was not myself when I was going through treatment – the radiation particularly knocked me off my feet – but it was my family and friends that helped me through that time, the people that knew me best. They all had my best wishes at heart and I am eternally grateful for their generosity. I really appreciated getting a gift card to my favorite clothing store so I could have a shopping day and feel normal, one friend paid a car payment for me since she knew money was tight from medical bills, and I was most moved by a friend who donated to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation in my name! It was such a touching gesture. I’d love to collaborate with you to create a “Holiday Care Guide” for your blog featuring experiences and items – including receiving hand written cards – for someone battling a diagnosis during the holiday season.” (Read more of Heather’s story HERE.)
From my own experience, it has been hard for me in the past when I have had health challenges – I didn’t know what to ask for help with, and people sometimes would provide things that weren’t always the most helpful. I loved Heather’s suggestions, and I’ve added a few to her list, too (and added a few from the comments section too!):
- a subscription to Spotify (or Pandora, or Sirius…be sure to get a few months worth at least!)
- soft and plush slippers or throw – it is important to be comfortable.
- a book on tape – sometimes an actual book can be hard to focus on.
- tickets to a local event that they would love (sports game, spa, concert)
- a portable phone charger and cord – for times when long hours are spent waiting in hospitals and there’s not a plug nearby.
- a cleaning/laundry service – treatment is draining so a lot of times the energy to pick up the house is not there
- collection of travel size items – treatment means a lot of traveling back and forth to the hospital, sometimes out of state.
- for those who can’t have live flowers or plants – make them a tissue paper bouquet or hanging mobile!
- grocery shop – call and ask for a few items to add to your own list.
- take out the trash for them weekly.
- cook for them – perhaps *in* their home. the smell of home cooked food, soups, breads…mmm.
- donate to a research foundation tackling their illness.
- yard work – either rake/mow yourself, or hire a service for them.
- specific things an individual may have challenges with:
- Uber gift cards to get them to doctors appointments, or gas cards to help pay for their expense.
- Give a mom a rest and take their kids out for a day of shopping and play – maybe bake Christmas cookies with them.
- Or perhaps take their dog for a weekend, or set up a weekly play date at your house.
- Scoop and change cat litter for them on a regular basis.
- Pay a bill for them that you know they need help with.
- If they have a PO box or a group mailbox down the street, arrange to pick up their mail for them and drop it off inside the screen door daily.
- and of course a hand written note is always the most meaningful!
Last night I made a donation to Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation in Heather’s name…feel free to do that too if you’d like.
Please share this post on your Pinterest or Facebook or other social media to help your friends give with compassion, too. And leave your gift ideas in the comments section, too, especially if you’ve had a major illness and have thoughts on items that would be helpful.