Sustainable Gifts for Cancer Patients

As a few of you may know, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in December and am currently undergoing 20 weeks of chemotherapy. What you find out when you have cancer is how generous your friends are and also how well they know you. Consequently, I have received some truly inspiring sustainable gifts. Here are a few of those gifts, along with some additions from me, that I would recommend if you have an ailing friend:

The Hyppo Gourmet Ice Pops – When you don’t want to eat, these all natural fruit filled goodies give you a reason to live. Sample flavors are Plum Mint, Hibiscus Watermelon, Peachy Peach,Coconut Dragonfruit Lime and Walnut Cream are just a few of their 450 varieties. You get to custom order by flavor and the order comes with dry ice in a cooler direct to your door. Their philosophy: “We believe that FRESH FRUIT MATTERS. Our pops are made with fresh fruit- pulled, picked, peeled, hulled, split, sliced, and squeezed by us- never frozen until it becomes a popsicle! That's why we buy fruit when it's in season & we don't blend it until it's ready.” Be sure to wait a while when it’s delivered. It’s in dry ice and if you put your tongue on it too soon, you’ll end up like Ralphie in A Christmas Story.

Prana wool beanies: When your hair falls out and you live in Minnesota, a warm cap is pretty essential. Prana is a sustainable outdoor clothing company and a leader in the sustainable clothing movement. “We go out of our way to ensure the impact we make on the world is mostly confined to our aesthetic. “By using materials and partnering with companies and factories that adhere to strict guidelines for safety and efficacy, we’re able to make the beautiful and functional products we love, in a way that we can all feel good about.” LoveYourMelon ( a Minnesota Company) offers trendy beanies and is a B-Corp that gives to children with cancer. Other good brands are REI, L.L.Bean, and Patagonia. Knit caps are great for sleeping.

BlankieGram: These super-soft microfleece throws showcase positive words like “positive attitude,strong spirit, peace, courage and healing wishes. BlankieGram says the color teal can help recharge our spirits during times of mental strength and healing. What letters promote protection and healing.” The company also gives a blanket to the needy for each one sold.  
Buckwheat Hot/Cold Packs.These microwavable and freezable cold packs are great, especially for patients that have had surgery. Some have herbs like lavender infused inside as well, which can help with nausea. Esty is a great source for these.
Aromatherapy sticks. These contain natural essential oils in a container like a lipstick and are ideal for patients with nausea and anxiety. Lavender, Peppermint and Camomile are some of the best choices. In fact, Mayo Clinic uses them routinely. You can also apply oils to the skin or get diffuser sticks. But the convenience of the lipstick style ones are more convenient and portable. Do ask the patient before you buy if they have any reactions to scents or essential oils. I’m allergic. Wyndmere is the brand used at the Mayo Clinic. The aroma “inhalers” cost a bargain $5.49.  Essence of Australia is the brand sold at the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center where I go for treatment. It is an award winner from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

Luxurious Face Creams and Lip Balms. Most of us are homebound a lot when our immune systems are low. That can mean dry skin. And nothing is more refreshing that a moisturizing mask or a rich face cream. L’Occitane and Kiehls are great natural brands that have nice gift packs.. My friend Carol gave me a facial mask with coconut gel, most notable because it was a racoon face design. Laughs are always welcome.
BHP-free Water Bottles. One of the challenges of chemo is dehydration. Cute colorful waterbottles are a great gift. Look at U-Konserve and Klean Kanteen as good sustainable choices. Clean Bottle has an insertable fruit diffuser.
Colorful, Fun House Shoes. We are home…a lot. And houseshoes are also great for chemo treatments. I love Snoozies because they are so soft and affordable
Cards, Letters, Visits. Being on chemo can be very isolating. Often, patients are reluctant to go to public places because of infection risk. So cards, letters and visits mean a lot. For really targeted cards, Hallmark has a line of cards with Stand Up to Cancer that funds cancer research.