The Gift of Time

Looking for the perfect gift for a friend or loved one going through cancer treatment? It might not cost anything! In my years of caring for and talking to people with cancer, I have never heard “so-and-so gave me the nicest box of chocolates.”  They remember the kind – and often free – gestures from people, no matter the time of year.  A card with a kind note; a meal left on the front steps while they were at treatment; leaves raked when they just couldn’t do it themselves. 

There are many ways to give the gift of time to show you care. For example

  • Plan a visit and bring lunch, a craft, a game, or a patient ear to listen. Make sure your visit timing fits your loved one’s schedule – and if they need to cancel because they don’t feel up to it – be supportive and say we can do it another day.
  • Offer to take them to treatment and sit with them. Bring an iPad with a funny show to watch together. Treatment medications can make you tired – if that is the case, be willing to sit quietly with a book while they rest.
  • Run some holiday errands – offer to pick up items on their holiday shopping list, wrap gifts, and decorate. Bonus points if you come back in January and pack up those decorations!
  • Make some “coupons” to be redeemed for a helping hand later when needed.
  • Send an email, text, or an old-fashioned card to let them know you are thinking about them. Don’t expect a response!
  • Walk their dog, give their kids a ride, or offer to run the vacuum while they’re at treatment. So many chores need to be done, but they may not have the energy to do them.
  • If they are up for it, a trip to a local garden or park. Nature can be restorative for many people and it can provide time to reflect on what they are going through.

Does that get your ideas flowing? I am sure you can think of many other ways to help that don’t cost any money. I find these things to be more thoughtful than a pair of pajamas any day!

These are a few suggestions – please share your suggestions in the comments!

Carolyn Vachani is an oncology advanced practice nurse and the Managing Editor at OncoLink. She has worked in many areas of oncology including BMT, clinical research, radiation therapy, and staff development. She serves as the project leader in the development and maintenance of the OncoLife Survivorship Care Plan and has a strong interest in oncology survivorship care. She enjoys discussing just about any cancer topic, as well as gardening, cooking, and, of course, her sons.

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