So 2020 and 2021 could be looked back on and thought to be, well let’s just say, a challenge. The pandemic, the politics of the time, remote learning, remote working, not-remote learning, masks, no masks, over worked teachers (had to get my plug in) and constant changes in CDC guidelines all contributed to so much strife and stress in our daily lives.
I’d like to tackle 2020 and 2021 from a different perspective though. I have never seen so much kindness as I have in the last two years or maybe my eyes just weren’t open to it. From seeing people reach out to others in our community or supporting each other online, love and kindness are truly everywhere. When faced with a life changing circumstance, it’s amazing to see how a community comes together to rally, especially a small town like ours. I’ve seen this with the death of a spouse or family member, the birth of a new baby, and in our case, the diagnosis of a life threatening illness – notice I didn’t say terminal because forget that, I’m here to stay and figure out how to turn the word “terminal” into “chronic”! Side note – I’m amazed at the incredible cancer research going on across our country – talk about life changing…literally! Anyway, when people talk about how bad the last couple of years have been and how the world has changed so much, I tend to see the joy and compassion in people rather than the bitterness others speak of.
I often have people ask me “what can I do to help so and so” or “what can I send them”? I’m involved with several online cancer support groups and asked them what their favorite gifts were — here are their responses. Hope it helps you to help someone close to you no matter what they are going through!
- Snail mail cards and letters
- A basket of restaraunt gift card lollipops from co worrkers / Door Dash gift cards
- Bath salts/bath bombs/sponge/loofa
- Adult coloring books —not for me! Yikes – those things freak me out! HA!
- Notebook with a nice GEL pen (I think it’s funny how this person specified the type of pen but she’s right, nothing like a good GEL pen!)
- House cleaning service – or even just someone to clean bathrooms & disinfect
- Prayer blanket or hand knitted throw
- A weighted heating pad
- Fresh flowers – just grab them from the grocery store
- A friend that had a designated day when she was brought super healthy meal or Green Chef meal kits delivery once a week
- Aloe plant, especially for radiation
- A personalized picture book or gift from Snapfish or Shutterfly
- Meal train set up by a friend who served as the “secretary” to send out to different groups
- Worry stones & healing crystals
- A puppy — geez, ask first ! Hahaha!
- Fancy bed sheets/pillow cases
- Fresh organic fruits and vegetables delivered every 10 days for x months
- Plush bathrobe
- Yummy soup in freezable containers
- A heated blanket/throw for the couch
- Super soft leggings — no kidding, Family Dollar & Dollar General rock for leggings!
- Special bracelets – I wear my morse code BADASS bracelet every day & love my OUTLIER necklace!
- EASY to mantain house plant
- Aromatherapy gifts – candles, essential oils, lotion
- Pretty scarves for chemotherapy hair loss – Amazon has some great ones
- Awesome slippers
- A facial or a massage gift certificate
- Coupons offering “”one hour of help” for specific items they can call you for – i.e. clean kitchen, laundry, help with gardening, babysitting, vacuum, pick up kids, take kids to practice
- Mindless magazines that don’t teach a thing but are just fun to flip through
- Subscription to a streaming service they may not have — Paramount, PureFlix, HBOmax, ….
- Donation to Charity in your name – I was absolutely floored when I received emails saying a donation had been made to Metavivor and the V Foundation!
Word to the wise — Be very careful when gifting books! Some people are ready to jump right in and read any thing that is out there but some find it very difficult. Don’t be offended if you give and then ask if they have read and you get a “no” for an answer. I had a hard time reading about Cancer and Nutrition b/c I had such a hard time eating anything during my Chemotherapy. Reading those books would actually make me feel guilty and make me feel I wasn’t doing enough to take care of myself. Crazy how your brain plays tricks on you. I also got books on chemotherapy which started to freak me out while I was reading them as I found myself worrying too much about what was coming down the pipe. I found that I would rather just dive in than dread the upcoming POSSIBLE side effects that didn’t sound like ANY FUN AT ALL! I have since gone back and read the books that were given to me and have been totally inspired by the bravery of these authors to put it all out there. Hence – my blog:)
I also loved reading what gifts friends have received through their diagnosis that are not tangible. So much to learn from what others see! We don’t need a diagnosis or tragedy to embrace these!
- The gift of meeting my breast cancer sisters
- Looking for the positive in each day
- Realizing my worth, what does and doesn’t really matter
- Gift of seeing what I wish I could change and then getting the chance to do it
- All the people who lifted me up during and after
- Finding Philippians 4:6-8
- To accept and care for myself unconditionally
- The ability to see the world through fresh eyes
- The gift of life
- Realizing how many in my life truly care about me
- The gift of friendship and support
- Meeting a woman who has been living with Stage 4 Metastatic Breast cancer for 20 YEARS!
What a list!!! I love music and often my get away is just blasting a good song. If you see me riding around the block twice, you’ll know I’ve got a great one playing. So many sent me meaningful songs & praise songs which always give me such a sense of peace. But some just sent me FUN songs like Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers” & the ultimate cheer you up song, Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling”. I challenge you to listen to that one and NOT start moving around with a smile on your face.
But truly, the best gift you can give is to just be there – continue life as you know it with the person you are supporting. Talk about normal, everything things. or just what you used to talk about! Be the escape your person needs – escape from answering questions about diagnosis, escape from the thoughts that crowd their minds, escape from the side ways head tilts, escape from the texts and messages from beautiful well wishers, escape from Dr. Google, escape from managing sided effects……just basically, be their escape from cancer.
Until they are ready to talk, then just give the gift of listening 🙂
Oh wait, I almost forgot – ROLOs! Always bring the ROLOS! HAHA!
Don’t forget to follow my advocacy page on Instagram @mbcoutlier.com