In her PEOPLE.com blog, Diem Brown, the
Real World/Road Rules Challenge contestant recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer for the second time, opens up about her desire for a child and the ups and downs of cancer and fertility procedures
'Tis the season, and I know if you could give the gift of health to a loved one going through illness, you would. So, I thought blogging about a few great gift ideas for patients or caregivers of patients would be a nice holiday treat.
Everyone is different but most patients – whether they're fighting cancer or recovering from a car accident – spend a lot of time either at home or at the hospital. So think about giving a gift that helps make being at home or the hospital easier.
Here are my suggestions!
Look Good, Feel Good Gifts
For starters, gifting cute pajama sets is a perfect patient gift! Matching PJ's are comfortable and make you feel put together and pretty as you rest around the house rather than lounging in over-sized, old sweats.
Gifting anything that makes a patient feel better about themselves is a priceless gift. When you think you look good, you feel good! Look Good, Feel Good gifts could also include a cute sweater wrap to wear at the hospital, a manicure/pedicure gift card, fun slippers or a pretty head scarf.
A group of sweet women made me a quilt to take to my chemo treatments, as you get extreme COLD flashes during a chemo infusion. The blanket is not only functional, but when it's on me I instantly think of the women who made it with so much love. Other homemade gifts could be: A knitted hat, scarf, a picture album, or a decorated jar filled with sweet notes and inspirational quotes.
Household Chore Gifts
Whether it's a patient or a caregiver of a patient, their home becomes their headquarters and office space. The first time I had cancer I remember
feeling so gross because everywhere I looked, there was a huge mess. Yet, I had no desire or energy to change it. One day, I got a knock on the door and one of my favorite couples had sent over a cleaning service! I was blown away! There is nothing like looking around and seeing a clean organized place. For that moment, you don't have to feel sick and slovenly. Someone has instantly knocked a "to do" item off your never-ending list.
A free alternative to gifting a cleaning service would be helping a patient do laundry, mowing the grass, walking the dog or helping organize their bills. Anything you can do to eliminate a daily chore is a tremendous weight lifted.
The Gift of Time
Every illness is different, so look at what the illness has "taken" from the
patient and try to help them ease the feeling of that loss. If it's a car accident patient or an elderly loved one with little mobility, try wrapping up a TV series box set. Inside the box place a note saying, "You and me
every Wednesday night – this is our show!" Having something they can look forward to on a weekly basis is beyond powerful.
You can also give the gift of time by planning a weekend trip, coming over and cooking together or setting up an "at home spa day" for the two of you.
Utilizing social networks to rally a patient's loved ones and friends for larger more costly gifts is a great tool. Click on the patient's Facebook page and view your "mutual friends" list. This is a great resource to organize people who you and the patient both know. Then set up a PayPal account and message your mutual friends saying, "Let's take care of Sally's cable bill for the year." By simply taking care of a bill, large or small (phone, daycare, utility etc.,) you are relieving a monthly stress for that person.
For cancer patients the same can be done to help assist a patient wanting a wig
. My friends and fellow MTV castmates did that for me and I was so grateful! Because of their generosity, every time I put on my wig I think of them and feel so very loved!
The holidays are all about making people in your life know you care. It could be an electronic picture frame filled with fun "memory evoking" pictures, a funny book (I love Tina Fey
's Bossy Pants
or anything written by Chelsea Handler
), a portable back massager or a meaningful bracelet a patient can look down at when they are having a bad day.
Whatever the gift, the patient will feel an army of people who love them every time they look at, wear or use your gift because it was given with thought and care.
I hope this list helps jog some creative gift-giving juices and if you have any ideas for something to give a patient or a gift that's made you smile, please comment and share below. :)
Check back for updates every Thursday: Diem will be chronicling exclusively for PEOPLE.com her journey through fertility treatments, chemotherapy and her quest to educate others about ovarian health. You can also follow her on Twitter @DiemBrown