As a cancer survivor, I’m always getting asked by friends, family, and even acquaintances for what I recommend in terms of gifts for loved ones who have been recently diagnosed. When someone we care about is diagnosed with cancer, it can be hard to find the right way to help.
Understanding what your loved one needs during this time can be overwhelming, and most of the time, they don’t know what they need, and frankly don’t have the energy to think about it. Don't worry, I've got you (and them) covered in my super comprehensive cancer gift guide below!
Cancer Gift GUide
After 1.5 years of treatment and surgeries, as well as having a number of friends and loved ones go through cancer, I’ve been able to compile a list of my favorite go-to gifts to support your family member, friend, or colleague during their cancer journey. I love giving gifts that help the receiver be more comfortable, feel pampered/extra special, lift their spirits, or a combination of all three! There is a lot of shit that cancer patients have to go through, so in my opinion, any way you can help them feel a little bit fun & fabulous is a win.
Check out my go-to gifts below - from luxurious loungewear to sanity saving services - I promise your loved one will feel supported and seen during this otherwise difficult time.
During cancer treatment, comfort is key. Loungewear that is soft, cozy, and easy to wear can provide much-needed comfort and relaxation. Whether you are going through chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation, you are likely spending a LOT of time in bed, in doctors' appointments, and potentially in the hospital. You are bone-tired and barely have enough energy to shower, let alone think about an outfit. And frankly, your body is going through hell and you just want to be as comfortable as possible.
That’s why loungewear can be such an incredible gift for someone undergoing cancer treatment. However, I’d also like to argue that the right kind of loungewear can do so much more for a cancer patient than just make them feel cozy - it can help lift them up and feel beautiful, even when they are feeling anything but.
When I was going through treatment, I lived in a uniform of oversized sweatpants and old men’s button-down shirts. I was losing my hair, bloated, and had all kinds of weird rashes and scars on my body. I remember looking in the mirror and not recognizing myself. I had this fear that I was never going to look like myself or feel beautiful again.
This might seem trivial, considering the circumstances, but it isn’t. I’ve talked to so many other cancer survivors and women currently undergoing treatment and it’s a fear they share as well. I wanted something, anything, to make me feel normal…and better than normal, pretty and alive! That’s why I started Casa Danu - to create clothes that help women, especially those going through cancer, feel absolutely gorgeous, while still being comfortable as hell.
When picking out loungewear for your loved one, look for loose-fitting, breathable, soft garments that allow for movement. I always like to gift garments in a fun print or beautiful color, because I think it adds joy to what can be a pretty joyless experience but go with your loved one’s style! I am obviously partial to our Casa Danu Caftans and Kimonos, but there are a ton of fabulous, luxurious-feeling loungewear out there that will no doubt help your loved one feel a bit more like themselves, while also meeting their needs during treatment.
Here are some of my favorites!
- Casa Danu Gigi Caftan & Kiki Kimono - For every garment sold, I am donating one to a current cancer patient. The new collection is launching soon, so be the first to know when the news styles are available by signing up for my updates!
- Frank & Eileen Malibu Travel Set - The evergreen color is gorgeous. I could see this being a great option to wear to receive treatment/go to the doctor…and then pass out in when you get home.
- J. McLaughlin Rale Cashmere Poncho - When you are receiving chemo, you can get very cold, so it’s nice to have a great wrap, sweater, or blanket. This J.McLaughlin number combines all three and it’s one of my favorite things to give anyone recently diagnosed.
- Eberjay Inez Washable Silk Pajamas - I love this mosaic tile print, but they have a ton of other options!
- Printfresh Pajamas - These are the pajama sets I bought during treatment and are still my favorite to this day. I love the fun prints - they made me feel chic, even though I was living in pajamas!
- Freda Salvador James Shearling Slippers The absolute best slippers I’ve ever owned AND they are downright fabulous in the leopard print.
- Quince Mongolian Cashmere Wrap Sweater & Pants - Affordable cashmere- enough said. But, on top of that, I love that the sweater is a wrap sweater, which makes access for treatment so much easier.
If your loved one is undergoing chemotherapy, then they are likely, if not guaranteed, to lose their hair. I did cold capping, which is a process where you put literal freezing caps on your head while undergoing treatment to help freeze the hair follicles so they don’t fall out. Even with that, I still lost a ton of hair. By the end of my treatment I had what I liked to call a “sweet mohawk” of stringy hair down the center of my head, while the remainder was just a patchy mess. It was not my best look :)
Many cancer patients will choose to get wigs, whether cold-capping or not. However, wigs are an ordeal to put on and take off and can be extremely hot and itchy. Most of the women that I know who have been diagnosed with cancer end up wearing their wigs out to special occasions and then wearing hats, beanies, or scarves the rest of the time.
Scarves are great because they are typically made with beautiful fabric, but they take a while to figure out how to tie correctly. I was super frustrated when trying to tie scarves, so I’m currently developing a headscarf that is user-friendly and foolproof to tie in a number of different styles. I can’t wait to introduce you to it, but in the meantime, let me share a great option for cancer patients - turbans.
Here’s why I love them - they go on like a beanie, you can get them in all kinds of styles, and you instantly look fabulous when you wear one :) Whenever I have a friend or loved one that is diagnosed with cancer, I send them a few turbans to get their headwear collection started. I usually use Etsy, because there are so many options available.
Here are some great ones:
- Satin-Lined Turban - I love that this one is satin lined, making it cool on the skin.
- Pre-Tied Turban - This seller has solid options as well as fun prints (I personally own the snakeskin one).
- 1920s Style Turban with Peacock Brooch - I mean, does it get more glamorous than this? I can't think of anything that would make me feel better than wearing this turban around my house.
- Silk Turban - This is a great option for anyone who needs to dress up, but doesn't want to wear a wig. I love the fuscia color.
- Sequin Turban- Um, how fun is this?! And frankly, you need random jolts of fun when you are going through cancer.
When you are going through cancer, you spend a LOT, and I mean a LOT of time in bed. When I was pregnant with our son, I thought I could never be more tired than I was at the time. I was so very, very wrong. There is no fatigue like cancer tired, especially if you are going through some form of chemotherapy.
However, even if you aren’t going through chemo, you are likely undergoing surgery, radiation, or taking some crazy cocktail of drugs that literally puts you on your ass. I’m shocked my bed doesn’t haven’t a permanent imprint of my body, that’s how much I was in bed.
With that in mind, anything you can give that helps make being in bed more restful, comfortable, or enjoyable is a huge win for a cancer patient.
Here are my must-have bed accoutrements for anyone going through cancer:
- Weighted Blanket - Sleep can be really hard to come by when you are going through cancer. The combination of medications, surgeries, radiation, etc. do things to your body that you could never imagine, including preventing sleep in a number of ways. Early on in my journey, I received a weighted blanket and it saved me. To this day, I can’t sleep without it!
- Bed organizer - I wish I had one of these when I was going through my treatment. Instead, I had a nightstand overflowing with medications, books, magazines, water cups, etc. I really like this particular one because it has room for 2 (!!) water bottles, something a cancer patient always has by their side.
- Diffuser - A diffuser with some beautiful essential oils can help a bedroom feel more like a little oasis, which is so nice after being at the hospital or doctors' appointments all the time. I always had mine going.
- Sleeping Eye Mask - I know, I know. These are ridiculous. But I have tested about every sleeping mask out there, even the high-end ones, and these are by far my favorite. Not to mention, they are hilarious…and humor is always a good thing during the cancer journey ;)
- Bed desk - Whether your loved one is working or just binge-watching their favorite streaming service (I can’t even tell you how many full shows I went through during my cancer journey), a bed desk can be a life saver!
- Fisherman Cabled Fleece Throw | Blankets & Throws at L.L.Bean - A cozy blanket is always a great idea. Whether it’s used in bed, in the chemo chair, or on the couch, I promise you it will be well-used and loved.
Beauty and Spa
During cancer, your body, face, hair, everything is just ravaged. You ache and have pains in weird places. You feel like crap, no other way to put it. I loved receiving anything spa/beauty related - luxurious creams, fun masks, new beauty tools, etc. - because I felt pampered and it helped me feel more like ME, even if just for a little bit.
It was the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when I was diagnosed, so I couldn’t go out to get treatments, massages, etc. Instead, my amazing sister would create a little “spa” in my bathroom. We would light candles, put my diffuser on with the eucalyptus essential oil, and she would give me at- home facials and neck/shoulder massages. It felt SO luxurious and it was just nice to be doing something that wasn’t “cancer” related. I still look fondly on our little spa to this day and am so grateful for my sister and her pampering!
Chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation can do weird things to your skin, so I always recommend gifting products that are super gentle on the skin. Don’t be afraid to ask your family member, friend, or colleague for their favorite product lines, just to stay on the safe side.
Here are some excellent options:
- First Aid Ultra Repair Cream - Chemotherapy and radiation can cause the skin to be extremely dry and have rashes or be inflamed, which is why I love this super decadent cream that is made for the super-sensitive.
- Fresh Rose Face Mask - This is a beautiful hydrating face mask that also smells beautiful.
- Flaxseed & Lavender Neck Wrap - A warm, lavender infused neck-wrap? I mean, who doesn’t want that? It instantly transports you to a spa, even if you are stuck in bed.
- A gift certificate for an in-home massage, facial, or mani/pedi - It can be exhausting to go anywhere or do anything when you are going through cancer, so going to a spa isn’t always in the cards. Bringing the spa to them can be such an incredible treat to help them feel pampered and taken care of. Highly recommend!
Life doesn’t stop when you have cancer, and it can be hard to keep up. The toll on the caregiver can be huge - not only are they physically caring for their loved one, but they are also facing some pretty scary stuff. On top of that, many times they have to take on caring for the family and the household in a whole new (and bigger) way. It can be overwhelming and incredibly stressful.
I was lucky to have an incredible village of support - my amazing husband, parents, siblings, family and community of friends all worked together to support not just me, but each other.
In addition to sending thoughtful gifts that help make their life a little bit more comfortable and joyful, I think one of the biggest (if not biggest) things you can do for someone diagnosed with cancer is to jump in and be part of that village. Here are just a few ways to do that:
- Offer to pick up their kids from school or take them out for fun activities - I’ve even seen groups of friends do this together and create a schedule for weekly pickups/activities.
- Take their dogs on a walk.
- Do their grocery shopping for them.
- Come over and do laundry or pay someone to do it.
- Come over and clean or contribute to a cleaning fund to have the house professionally cleaned.
These things go a LONG way in relieving stress. for both the patient and their caregiver(s). Taking some of the normal day-to-day life stuff off their hands can help free them up to focus on what matters most right now, which is healing.
There you have it! A super comprehensive list of the best thoughtful (and fabulous) gifts for women diagnosed with cancer.
I genuinely hope that it helps you as you find ways to support your family member, friend, or colleague during this time. Don’t forget, a hand-written card, a text, or some unexpected flowers are easy and can have a huge impact on someone with cancer, so when in doubt, go back to the basics!
I’d love to hear if you’ve sent any of these gifts, and if you are a cancer thriver or survivor, let me know what your favorite gifts have been in the comments below!