On October 3, 2018, one month after my 43rd birthday, I got the most shocking news of my life: I had ovarian cancer. After a week of unexplained stomach pains, I went to urgent care, and they sent me for a CT scan. The results revealed masses on both ovaries, fluid in my abdomen, and signs of cancer in lymph nodes in my pelvis and abdomen as well. I ultimately landed in the E.R. and was hospitalized for a week. During this time I received a laparoscopic biopsy that confirmed a diagnosis of stage 3 ovarian cancer, had a port for chemotherapy implanted, and started chemo.
Six months of treatment followed, including nine weeks of chemo and major debulking (tumor-removal) surgery that involved a total hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (removing both ovaries and fallopian tubes). This was in addition to the removal of my appendix because the cancer had spread there, and then nine more weeks of chemo. I completed my treatment in April 2019 and am now cancer-free.
Even though I’m single and I live by myself, I didn’t have to worry about getting through this alone. A huge community rallied around me to lend their support. Friends, family members, neighbors, and even virtual strangers came through for me in every way possible, from going to chemo appointments with me to being in touch by phone, text, and social media with encouragement and offers to help and sending me gifts—lots of gifts.
It can be hard to know what will actually be a useful gift for someone going through cancer treatment. When I was first diagnosed, even I didn’t know what I needed when someone asked what they could do or get for me. But so many people came up with incredibly thoughtful, meaningful, and truly useful gifts that helped me get through my treatment feeling organized, well-fed, comfy, warm, informed, and very loved.
If you want to get something for a friend or family member with cancer but don’t know where to begin, here are a few of my favorite gifts I received while I was going through cancer treatment. Hopefully, they provide some inspiration for anyone in search of the best gifts for people with cancer.