Smiling little girl hugs her teddy bear while in the hospital for cancer treatmentKnowing a child who is battling cancer is heart-wrenching and can make one feel helpless. When you want to provide more than emotional support, choosing just the right gifts for cancer patients can be difficult. There are some definite “do nots” when selecting a gift, and then some fun “do’s” when shopping for that special present.
Every child is unique and has their likes and dislikes. Side effects from cancer treatment can also affect what gifts will appeal or not appeal to a child battling cancer. For instance, children receiving chemotherapy may experience changes to their taste buds and sense of smell. Foods that were once their favorites may not be anymore, and fragrances and scents may be overwhelming and unpleasant.
Suppose a child is losing their hair or experiencing other physical side effects from treatment. In that case, it may make them feel sensitive and uncomfortable to receive a gift that brings attention to their appearance. You will want to understand the child’s feelings before presenting a gift such as a wig or hat.
In addition, some hospitals may discourage or prohibit items such as balloons, stuffed animals, and flowers. It is important to check with the hospital so you don’t arrive with a gift that is not allowed in or that hospital staff will confiscate. You can generally look up their rules on the hospital website.
So, first, consider what to avoid:

  • Take into account the child’s likes and dislikes.
  • Consider what effects treatment is having on the child.
  • Check with the hospital for rules and guidelines on gifts.

Now, armed with what not to buy, there are lots of options that will bring some joy and happiness to that special child during their difficult journey.
When you are considering which gift or gifts to purchase, think about two words that are so important: comfort and distraction. A child battling cancer is experiencing so much discomfort both physically and emotionally that any gift that helps them feel better and forget what they are going through if only for a few minutes, is the goal.

Gifts That Provide Comfort

One struggle many children face is the discomfort of having a port-a-cath inserted under their skin in their chest area. Inserting the port-a-cath may require the healthcare professional to lift or remove the child’s shirt, but a better solution exists. Unique shirts with port access are available and can make this process much more comfortable. There are organizations such as Comfy Chemo Kids that offer a variety of colors and styles, or you can find shirts from Care and Wear or Amazon as well.
Another comfort can be super soft pajamas or sweatpants. Look for breathable natural fabrics that feel soft to the touch as a treatment side effect can be sensitive skin. And really, who doesn’t like to climb into cozy pajamas or sweatshirts when they’re not feeling well? Consider some colorful socks or slippers to go along with those pajamas or sweats. Some fun, colorful patterns can brighten up the child’s day.
You may also consider a soft and cozy blanket or pillow with the child’s name or initials embroidered on it. It can provide comfort during hospital stays or treatment sessions.
Dry skin and cracked lips can be another nuisance for a child battling cancer. Search for products made for sensitive skin, and while lovely scents seem attractive, it is best to find unscented lotions and lip balms.
So, for comfort, seek out:

  • Chemo Port Shirts
  • Soft Pajamas, Sweats, or a personalized blanket
  • Colorful Socks and Slippers
  • Unscented lotions and balms for sensitive skin

Gifts for Cancer Patients That Provide Distraction

Gifts that provide a distraction are another wonderful gift for children experiencing cancer and the side effects of cancer treatment. Cancer is often all they can think of, from getting their vitals checked to receiving treatment. Some fun items can take their minds off all that, at least for a while.
There are endless games out there that can be played independently or in a group. Just search online for games plus the child’s age, and you will find just the right mix of games. There are single-player puzzle games and memory games that will pass the time when they happen to be alone. Having multi-player games they can play with visitors or other children in the hospital is also important. Look for fun games that can bring along some giggles and laughs.
Books are another wonderful distraction. Books and audiobooks can transport children to different worlds and provide an escape. Look for stories that match their interests, or consider audiobooks for those with difficulty reading. Whether it is a mystery book, they can immerse themselves in it or a book a friend or family member can read to them. Books can take them away to a place where they don’t have to deal with cancer for a while.
Music and podcasts can powerfully affect emotions, and listening to favorite songs or podcasts can provide comfort. Consider gift cards for music streaming services or a collection of their favorite tunes.
Coloring and activity books are also a fun way to pass time in a hospital. There are now coloring books for all ages. While we might have only considered coloring books for younger children, there are now some fantastic coloring books for older children. Activity books have come a long way as well. The possibilities are endless, from search and find books for young children to funny activity books for older kids.
So, for distraction, seek out:

  • Board and Card Games – Single and Multi-player
  • Books and Audiobooks
  • Music and Podcasts
  • Coloring Books and Activity Books

Gifts for Cancer Patients

Along with these individual items, there are some wonderful sites created specifically to provide appropriate gifts for children with cancer. Hope Scarves will share a scarf and story that communicates hope, wisdom, and encouragement from those who have survived cancer.
Rock the Treatment and Bamba Box are two of several organizations that put together gift boxes specifically designed for children with cancer. These are quality care packages that will comfort that special child in your life.
Any of these gifts for cancer patients will help a child as they navigate their cancer journey. However, your love, support, and time will always be the most important gift. Be there to snuggle them in their cozy pajamas, read them that book, and play a game to give them something else to think about. It is you that will make any of these gifts special.
If you’re unsure about specific preferences or restrictions, consider reaching out to the child’s family or a trusted healthcare professional for guidance.