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For Everyone Touched By Cancer

Breast Cancer Gift Ideas For Men And Women

Written by Dr Shara Cohen on 
3rd August, 2017
Updated: 26th September, 2023
Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes

So to start and for those of you querying the title of this article - YES! men get breast cancer too, with treatment and outcome very similar to female breast cancer. So in this article, we will be talking about all breast cancer patients, unless otherwise specified (and we will leave it to you to decide whether the gift suggested is appropriate).

What Is A Good Gift For Breast Cancer Patients?

We have other articles on this site discussing, in general, best cancer gifts and worst cancer gifts which we won't repeat here. This article will focus on breast cancer and, as you probably already know, choosing the ideal breast cancer gift is not easy.  Added to the fact that everyone is different, everyone's treatment is different, and everyone's responses to treatments are different, the shopping experience can be a minefield. There is clearly no one size fits all and no best breast cancer gift.

We suggest you might want to consider:-

What your friend or loved one might particularly like or be missing.

A simple gift, just something you know they like, may be perfect. But be warned, a previous chocolate lover might not be eating chocolate right now and flowers are not a good gift for certain cancer patients. Before you go any further you might consider reading our article on worst gifts for cancer patients to help you choose the best gifts.

With the time-consuming appointments and the fatigue due to treatments, it might be that your friend or loved one just needs a rest or a night in with a friend to watch TV, or access to a good food delivery service? The way you respond to your friend or loved one when you discover their diagnosis and during treatment and hopefully their recovery, might be the best gift you can give them. We discuss the best ways to respond to someone with breast cancer here.

How they may be feeling

You may think discussing how they are feeling is not relevant, obviously, they are sad and distressed, trying to be brave and strong. Well, not necessarily! Some people want to talk about what's happening and some don't. Some can just get on with their everyday lives and focus on treatments, others may choose to need to give up their everyday lives to focus on their health. These different lifestyle changes have their own emotions. But, we can guarantee that they are almost all stressed regarding their unknown futures that lie ahead.

The stage of their cancer and their breast cancer treatment

Whether your friend has just been diagnosed or is living with breast cancer can affect your choice of gift ideas. In addition, if they are going through breast cancer treatment they may need items to deal with side effects or rest.

Gifts ideas for different stages and treatments are discussed below

Breast Gift Package And Chemotherapy

What is a thoughtful gift if I don't know the stage or treatment?

Almost every cancer patient will have their emotional ups and downs. From dealing with their initial diagnosis to the stress of managing appointments and not knowing what the future holds, with the addition of possibly dealing with some pretty bad cancer treatment side effects, it's clearly a very stressful and emotional time. So gift ideas that deal with stress should be considered. In addition, comfort is essential when undergoing cancer treatments.

General gift ideas include

  • soft socks
  • slippers
  • pajamas
  • water bottles
  • fun apparel
  • robes

What should I buy if someone has just been diagnosed with breast cancer?

When someone has their initial diagnosis they may still be going through the staging process. This means that they may not know whether their cancer has spread and/or what treatments they may be facing. This is understandably a stressful time. But it's also a time to hold off on gifts such as hair coverings or items to help with nausea. You might be surprised to know that not all breast cancer patients have chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery.

They might keep their hair and have very gentle treatments.

They may not have treatment at all!

Ideal gifts at this stage might include presents that help with stress relief and self-care, looking after family members whilst they deal with their appointments or comfort items such as snuggly socks, or a soft blanket to snuggle up to, or gentle none perfumes moisturizes.

Thoughtful treatment gift ideas

Not everyone with breast cancer has treatment, some just have surgery, others just have personalized drugs. Radiotherapy, surgery and chemotherapy are not always the standard treatment anymore.  So before you buy a hat or scarf for someone with breast cancer you need to check whether they are having chemotherapy and whether their chemotherapy will or has affected their hair.  In some cases, it is best to get general comforting gifts (as above) that won't offend, but can still be useful. But assuming you know the treatment here are some general guidelines to get a great gift for a breast cancer patient having therapy.

Radiation therapy

The main side effects of radiotherapy are tiredness and dry, sore or burned skin. This is in addition to lack of time, which we will include as a side effect here, as radiation treatment is very intense and can be every day over many weeks/months.

Skin Soothers and moisturizers gentle enough to not hurt skin but also retain moisture and prevent peeling are great gifts. You could go for emollient creams as these are gentle enough to be used. High-factor sunscreen is also recommended for radiotherapy patients.

A radiotherapy care package could be a great present to show support, as this could include various items needed for rest and recovery, as well dealing with side effects.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a very broad term and not everyone who has chemo has nausea or hair loss, but they do need your support. So our suggestions for presents for chemo patients would be items that can have dual value. We would never recommend an item that specifically deals with side effects such as hair loss, as these may not be appropriate (unless you know they need them).

Suggestions include

  • ginger tea, good for chemo nausea, but also relaxing
  • a fancy water bottle to stay hydrated, good for general health but can also help with chemo side effects
  • a robe, for chemo rest days or just general lounging around
  • lip balm, helps with dry lips which some chemo can cause and also a general item for pampering
  • hand cream, for dry hands and for feeling pampered
  • peppermint tea, for relaxation and nausea
  • a chemotherapy care package that contains a variety of items for comfort, pampering and side effects.
  • fun apparel, mugs to have a bit of fun
  • hospital or chemo bag, to carry all their items around to appoinments
  • fancy face masks, as they are now classed as vulnerable

Breast cancer surgery

Breast cancer surgery usually means one of three things. A biopsy, a lumpectomy or a mastectomy (whether single or double).

Breast cancer biopsy

Breast cancer biopsies are usually performed to confirm a cancer diagnosis and may be done under local or general anesthesia. Gifts for someone having a biopsy might range from the gift of your time (driving them to and from treatment and making sure they are ok) to hospital stay packs or care parcels if they are staying in overnight for the procedure.

Lumpectomy

A lumpectomy is a surgery to remove cancer or other abnormal tissue from the breast and requires a general anesthetic. So a hospital care pack would be highly relevant, plus items such as a robe or blanket to give comfort during recovery. A soft sports bra is often recommended to women having a lumpectomy, which they may need to wear for a week or so. So a pretty supporting sports bra, like the ones below, might be appropriate.

Sports bras for women having breast cancer surgery

Mastectomy

A mastectomy is major surgery and involves removing one or both breasts (double or bilateral mastectomy). All the gifts above are appropriate, but as this is a major surgery there are many more things to consider. Indeed, the weeks leading up to a mastectomy are often accompanied by mood changes and severe stress. There are gifts and things you can do to help prepare them for their surgery as well as items you can get to help recovery.

For example, the patient may need a listening ear or advocate before the event or drain bags, mastectomy cushions and port pillows for comfort after the surgery. There may also be specific products that are recommended for breast surgery, scaring and recovery that they might appreciate.

Mastectomy care packs are an ideal gift for comfort and support, as they include a variety of items that will definitely be of use.

Breast cancer surgery care packages

Some people consider having a decorative tattoo on their breast or chest after breast cancer surgery and could be a nice gift to the right person.

Personalized medicine

Breast cancer is not one illness but a range of cancers, and if the type of cancer can be identified, sometimes the patient can go on drugs to remove the cancer or keep it at bay. This is called personalized medicine and can go on for many years or indeed indefinitely. Personalized medicines can have many different side effects depending on the drugs used. Some are easily tolerated and some are not. If someone is on a personalized medicine regime and has finished or is not having any of the treatments above, we would recommend a general comfort or inspirational gift.

End of treatment gifts

It is natural to think that a celebration is due at the end of a cancer treatment. Whilst this may be true, and it would be good to mark the end with a happy celebration or token of celebration, time for recovery is still needed. So comfort and convenience gifts are still in order at this stage. And maybe a few fun items also?

Living with breast cancer presents

When we talk of living with cancer it usually means the cancer cannot be completely removed. But often this can mean that it is kept at bay by modern medicine. Self-care and inspirational products are thoughtful gifts at this stage and what you get very much will depend on where your friend or loved one is on their journey.

Final thoughts

If you have any suggestions for our gift boxes please contact us, we are always happy to hear from you and we love receiving suggestions for our cancer gifts.

Further reading

Top Ten Items For A Chemotherapy Care Package

Talking About Cancer: an article from Macmillan

What To Say To Someone Who Has Cancer (And What Not To Say)

Thoughtful Breast Cancer Gifts

How To Choose Thoughtful Gifts For Cancer Patients

How to Respond To A Friend With Breast Cancer

We strongly advise you to talk with a health care professional about specific medical conditions and treatments. The information on our site is meant to be helpful and educational but is not a substitute for medical advice.

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