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Self Care,  Breast Cancer,  Friendship

Gift ideas for someone recently diagnosed

When I was going through my treatment, having comforting items brought warmth to my heart. Each person’s preferences can vary, but here are a few gift ideas of things that I or my friends found helpful.

Soft, cozy blankets and socks were my absolute favourite gift ideas – they were comforting, especially during treatment, and even more so if your friend has to wear ice gloves or socks to stave off neuropathy or is cold capping to save their hair. Puzzle books or good novels are great gift ideas. They occupied my mind in waiting rooms and during chemo infusions, which can last several hours. Throw in a journal too; it helped me express what I was going through. In fact that effort of writing is what inspired me to write my book FLAT PLEASE.

I also appreciated natural, unscented skincare products as the treatment made my skin sensitive to fragrance. Don’t forget lip balm because chapped lips can be a side-effect of chemo. If she requires surgery, you might want to consider a pretty pair of lounging PJs with button up front or a beautiful robe. She deserves to feel cherished and pretty. I would personally avoid gifts of hats or head scarves unless your friend asks for them. She may not want to be reminded that she may lose her hair.

Snacks are an important inclusion. However, be mindful of her dietary needs as cancer treatment can alter tastes. I didn’t lose my appetite during chemo but food did taste differently and sweet things tasted salty! Opt for high-protein and nutritious snacks such as almonds, pistachios, or protein bars.

Also, remember your friend might be spending a good deal of time at home, feeling uncomfortable or fatigued. So comforting home items could be welcome. A nice plant or a soft pillow, maybe.

Lastly, consider including a heartfelt note that expresses your support and love. It’s the emotional support that often means the most. I had one friend write me the most beautiful and encouraging letter and gifted me my sweet butterfly strong pendant, which I now wear every day.

But do listen and observe – these are just suggestions. What your friend truly needs or wants could be different. What they need most of all is not stuff…it is your hand to hold.

Also, this is a crucial time for you too, as it’s also a journey that affects you in different ways. Make sure to take care of yourself as well.

Ellyn Winters-Robinson is a breast cancer survivor, entrepreneur, author, in-demand speaker, women’s health advocate, professional communicator and a globally recognized health rebel. Ellyn's best-selling book "Flat Please Hold the Shame," is a girlfriend’s companion guide for those on the breast cancer journey. She is also the co-creator of, the world’s first conversational AI companion for those on the breast cancer journey. With Dense Breasts Canada and award-winning photographer Hilary Gauld, Ellyn also co-produced I WANT YOU TO KNOW, a celebrated photo essay showing the diverse faces and stories of 31 individuals on the breast cancer journey. Ellyn’s story and have been featured in People Magazine, Chatelaine Magazine, the Globe and Mail, CTV National News and Your Morning, and Fast Company.

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