Last month my mother was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer. Coming from a family with zero history of breast cancer, my reaction came with immediate shock and confusion. Every year my mom would nervously undergo her mammogram screening and consistently receive clean results. You never think illnesses or unfortunate circumstances are going to affect you or your loved ones anytime soon and when they strike, it can be extremely difficult to handle. My first thought was either to visit my mom or continuously send her gifts, cards, and prayers to hopefully brighten each of her days. Every cancer patient is different and my mom specifically was one who wanted to fight the cancer by distracting and keeping herself busy.
Which begs the question, what thougthful gift can you buy for a breast cancer patient that does not draw too much attention to the cancer but has this uncanny ability to brighten her mood?
I'm a strong believer that "laughter is the best medicine". In light of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I have scoured the internet for inexpensive, quirky, humorous yet fully appropriate gifts ideas that will sure to make your loved one smile.
1. Remind her she is priority one
Amazon Price: $7.05 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 2, 2013)
2. Jimmy Fallon's Thank You Notes
While Jimmy Fallon's humor may not be everyone's cup of tea, this book is a great easy pick me up read for any occasion. I know when I'm looking for something humorous to read, I prefer concise and accessible content that you might pick up from reddit or a webcomic. Thank You Notes is a great bedside companion for those long hospital visits, and each page features a picture and a punchline. Simplicity at its best.
3. Take creative inspiration from Life 101: An Illustrated Guide
Amazon Price: $14.99 $2.08 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 2, 2013)
4. Equip a tablet with a video and/or audio playlist
You can buy her a nice fancy tablet - Ipad, Kindle Fire, Google Nexus 7, Samsung Galaxy Tab, etc. There are even several tablets on the market for less than $200. Even if you don't want to shell out for a tablet, you can still complete the second half of this idea. I think tablets are the perfect gift especially for someone you know who will be relaxing and resting in bed. Tablets become more personalized when you add or create content on the tablet for the person to use. I think creating a video or audio playlist is a great way to start (you can even do this sans buying a tablet). To make my mom laugh, my favorite thing to do is to go on YouTube and create a personal playlist for her that will last several hours featuring her favorite skits from Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert. If your loved one prefers music, comedy sketches, or audiobooks to destress, then creating an audio playlist is also a great option. You could also go the extra mile and equip your tablet with the Kindle app and download an awesome slew of books like the ones I've mentioned already in this article.
5. Frequently send her cards
When my grandmother had a stroke, I made it a point to send her a card every month. It wasn't always strictly a "Get Well Card" card but I would scour the shelves of every hipster boutique in San Francisco in search of a unique, offbeat card that would make her smile. Since then, searching for unconventional greeting cards has suprisingly turned into an enjoyable hobby. I found this rare gem online at www.greetingcarduniverse.com. Now my greeting card style is to keep the emotional fluff and corniness at an absolute minimum. This card is brash and unexpected but surprisingly sentimental inside. The interior of the card reads "Breast cancer is tough, but you're tougher! While you're undergoing treatment, just remember the people who love you - and I'm one of them. If you need anything, I'm ready to help." This is lighthearted way of expressing how everyone frankly feels about cancer but also showing emotional support for her.
6. Buy socks. Lots of them.
I'm confident there is no woman on the planet that does not appreciate a pair of socks. Especially cute socks like the ones pictured above. Some cancer patients become more sensitive to cold temperatures, so it's imperative that you keep their feet warm! These irresistible socks resemble cats when fully extended and transform into bow tie cats when folded (what is this sorcery?). They are also dirt cheap at $3.50/pair and hail from Korea, the motherland of cuteness.
7. Encourage daily writing
Journals and diaries come in all shapes, sizes, materials, styles, you name it. Writing daily in a journal while going through a difficult situation is highly therapeutic. It's a healthy mechanism for her to write down her feelings, thoughts and experiences. It can also serve as a nice memorablia to store letters, cards, notes and to document each day as it comes. I believe journaling is the best outlet to reflect on dealing with difficult emotions and to gain perspective on challenging situations. Write a sweet note on the first page of the journal and include a cute pen or two in the gift.
8. Help relieve the stress
It's an ancient and wide known remedy that lavender is commonly used to relieve stress. Breast cancer is an extremely stressful life event and one way to distract her from the stress is for her to indulge in luxurious lavender aromatherapy. My personal favorite luxury brand is L'Occitane because their products are high quality and au naturel. Plus who doesn't want to use products labeled in French. They have an excellent selection of lavender scented products: foaming bath, bath salts, candles, hand cream, shower gel, and even massage oil.
9. Dogeared Necklace
My favorite jewelry recommendation is this sweet and dainty Dogeared necklace dipped in gold. The message in the card reads, "make a wish... and put on your necklace. repeat this mantra to yourself and believe in its power: i am healthy and my body is strong. i am healthy and my body is strong. i am healthy and my body and my body is strong. i am healthy and my body is strong! when your necklace wears off, your wish is ready to come true. let the healing begin!" The brand Dogeared creates other themed jewelry with empowering messages. Some of their jewelry is tailored specifically to the women in our life: mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and best friends so you can choose a more personalized item.
10. Splurge on a cozy pink sweater
Amazon Price: $110.00 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 2, 2013)