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No More Flowers - What The Recently Diagnosed Actually Want From You

When someone is struggling in life and needs a little pick me up, what’s your go-to pick me up?

If you said flowers, you’d be right.

Flowers are one of those catch-all gifts that make people feel special. They’re beautiful, smell lovely, and there’s a huge variety you can choose from depending on what the person you’re giving them to likes. In most situations, flowers are a solid choice, especially if you’ve got someone hard to buy for.

But there’s one occasion that you should absolutely avoid the flower aisle for, and that’s a cancer diagnosis. It’s a difficult time for everyone, and when you find out someone you love is battling cancer, you want to give them something to show you’re thinking of them. But most people with cancer don’t want that reminder of how fragile life is when they have a life-threatening disease. So what should you do for the recently diagnosed in your life that could really make a difference?

Practical Gifts

Notanotherbunchofflowers has done a fantastic blog about the kinds of gifts not to get a cancer patient, and why. From flowers (health risk), food, skin products and even jokey gifts, there’s a whole host of things that are a bad idea to buy someone in your life with cancer. But that doesn’t mean you can’t buy them anything, especially if your love language is giving gifts. You just need to think practically about it.

A few examples of gifts our visitors have loved include:

  • Hot water bottles

  • Queasy drops (great for after chemo appointments)

  • Lap trays

  • A luxurious, soft dressing gown

  • Paper, silk or even Lego flowers

  • Unscented, 100% natural lip balms (we like Burt’s Bees)

  • Personalised or hard-made cards

In other words, things that are going to provide value, happiness or genuinely make the tough time they’re facing a little easier.

Offer To Be There For Appointments

Have you ever been nervous about a doctor’s appointment and wished someone could be there with you? We all have at some point, but for people with cancer, most appointments can feel like that. But it can be awkward for them to ask for that level of support, especially if they feel like they’re inconveniencing you. So offer to go with them to appointments or treatment sessions. Check-ups can be daunting, and chemo sessions can take a long time and be very boring, so providing some company can be a huge relief.

Help With Transport

Cancer comes with a lot of doctor’s appointments, tests and treatments, and they may not be able to drive themselves to every single one. If you can, offer to help with some of the transport around their medical needs. Especially after a treatment, you will be surprised at how weak they feel, or how much of a struggle some basic tasks can become. Even if it’s just picking them up from chemo appointments and making them a cup of tea when you get them home, it can make a huge difference.

Do The Shopping

Everyday tasks like shopping, cleaning the house or even cooking dinner can feel like an insurmountable mountain to a cancer patient sometimes, no matter what stage of their diagnosis and treatment they are in. Where you can, try to do some of these things for them. Try not to badger them about what you should do and when – instead surprise them with a home-cooked meal or their favourite takeaway, pop round for coffee and do some tidying while you’re there, or bring some essentials with you when you visit. Taking that weight off can be a huge help both physically and mentally.

Your Support

Above all, many recently diagnosed people just want to know their family and friends are still there for them. Listen to them. Let them talk. Let them open up about their fears and cry. Don’t try to make them feel better with empty platitudes like ‘you’ll be fine’ or ‘stay positive’. A cancer diagnosis is an earth-shattering thing for most people, and when even doctors can’t always say your friend will be fine, it means nothing coming from you. So instead, help them express their emotions in a healthy way and be there to support them whenever they need you. We know it can be uncomfortable, but try not to make it about how you feel – they don’t want to feel guilty for making you feel bad on top of their own swirling emotions.

While you’re around, check in with their partner (if that’s not you), and family to see how they’re doing. A family member receiving the diagnosis is difficult for those around them to, and they will appreciate your support too.

At Jill's Fundraising Journey, we’re here to support those affected by cancer and their loved ones. We know how difficult the journey can be, having been through it ourselves, and we wanted to provide a little bit of respite from the constant cancer battle. Our holiday home is available for free to those affected by a cancer diagnosis, or if you want to support the charity you can book a paid stay, or donate here. If you’d like to know more about how we support those with cancer (without buying any flowers), just get in touch using the contact form here.


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