gift bags

We all want to help when someone is diagnosed with cancer. But, where do we start? What do we do, especially if we are not in the person’s inner circle of friends? (Or, if we are.) How do we show up? One thing we can all do is make a gift bag with goodies for your special person’s chemo infusion sessions and for their days of recovery. Many have asked me what should be put in a gift bag, so here are a few suggestions for a “blessing bag” for someone in a hard place, especially for those fighting cancer.

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A colorful gift bag of your choice, is a great way to start. It could even be a fabric bag if you’d like. There aren’t any rules here, except to try to bless and encourage. Fill the bag yourself or with a group of friends. This is a great project for several to pool their resources and gifting. The more the merrier!

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Start off with some comfort lotions for the inevitable dry skin from chemo, hand sanitizer for those endless office visits, tissues for the tears that will come, and tuck in essential oils if you know your person would like them. Think pampering and comfort when selecting lotions and oils. Everything hurts during chemo. Remember cozy, fuzzy socks for cold feet – chemo often takes a long time, and your person’s feet will cool down.

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I have a friend who makes very special products to heal and soothe. These would be great to add to a blessing bag. Her website is Picket and Oak.

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Tuck in some mints, gum, and sweets that will help with any strange tastes or nausea during chemo. Ginger gum and ginger mints are also good ideas to help with nausea. My doctor has suggested Tums for the lighter nausea days.

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Next, you can add gift cards to Panera or Starbucks, or any of your local coffee shops and restaurants that might encourage your person. I’ve gotten $5 Starbucks cards when I am making many gift bags; a friend purchased $10 Panera cards for some of my gift bags. These are a really huge addition because they allow a caregiver or your person to take a break from cooking or to actually get a little treat.

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Then, you can add a favorite book to encourage or cheer your person on her journey. Kara Tippetts, who fought hard throughout her breast cancer journey, wrote a book with Jill Buteyn about showing up for your people who are sick or hurting. I highly recommend it! If someone likes making bookmarks, add one of those to the book. (Audio books are great, too.) Then, you can add little gifts of beauty: bracelets, earrings, a pretty necklace, a handmade scarf or hat. Of course, it helps to have a group to add extra items like this, but, one of your friends might make jewelry, and just maybe, they’d love to donate a few items to your bag. If a friend knits or crochets, maybe she can donate a hat or scarf. After someone fighting chemo looses his or her hair, a soft, handmade hat is a very special, well used gift.

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Another important item to tuck into your gift bag is some lip gloss, vaseline or lip balm. It’s fun to find different flavors of lip balm, but the more practical gloss is well liked as well. Chemo patients’ lips are always dry in the winter.

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A soft hat to sleep in or wear through the winter is a lovely item to include.

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A couple of other ideas to include are emory boards and nail hardener type nail polish. Chemo patients often have fragile nails, even to the point of loosing them. I know. That scared me right into using nail hardener! (I’ve asked for prayer so I don’t loose my nails.) Some folks use Jamberry nail wraps, and they might be a help as well. Also, bath salts and bubble bath are just wonderful items to include. A cancer patient often does not have the energy to stand up in the shower, and the soaking bath helps remove toxins while giving comfort to your person’s achy body.

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A final idea is to add some blank art cards or thank you cards. Your special person will have so many thank you cards to write – and half they will never have the energy to get to. I have so many people I need to thank for helping me, I feel I should make an announcement over a national public address system, and thank everyone at once! In fact, thank you to everyone who has helped me on my cancer journey!!

These are just some ideas. These items have helped me on my journey with stage 4 breast cancer. They just might bless your person. And remember, don’t dash off right after you have handed your person their gift bag. You will cheer them so much by hanging out for a bit; maybe crack a joke, share your news and help them to feel they are still in the land of the living! Your presence is really one of the biggest gifts you can give them! You can be a curative balm in their time of “hard.”

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Katie, sharing the journey with me, often comes down to my apartment in the evening to check on me and give me the gift of her time and her presence!

A joy-filled heart is curative balm,
but a broken spirit hurts all the way to the bone. Proverbs 17:22 The Bible, the Voice version

Here is the link to the Just Show Up book: “JUST SHOW UP”

Here is a link to Picket and Oak: PICKET AND OAK