September 17, 2010

Gifts for a Sick Friend

My cousin Lee writes:
I have a good friend from college who has had a bone cancer disease and it is getting the best of her now. her entire face from the nose down had to be basically taken apart to get the cancer out of the jaw bone.

She only drinks liquids now...and can't smell very well.

So here's my question for you and possibly for your blog readers if you want to pose it....

I want to send her a care package. Smelly things are is out....

What could I assemble that would bring her joy and happiness?

She loves flowers...but flowers die quickly....I want some things to cheer her up.

and I need help figuring this out.
I'm stumped.

Are you on it for me?

Aw, GEEZ, Lee, this is really SAD! And a little gross BUT MOSTLY SAD.

Flowering plants are good, if you think she'd be up to caring for them. When Henry was born, my parents brought me a gorgeous shiny splendid geranium for my room. Admire:

Also admire little Henry on the bed.
How eensy is he? VERY eensy.

In fact, indulge me for a minute. Look at THIS:

I took this from behind my own head, and it is SO evocative for me. The familiar fabrics of the hospital! The way the bendy, birdlike newborn feels all curled up and rumpled and falling out of his clothes, and the way his entire butt plus both feet fit into one hand. That "Oh my god, you're HERE!!" feeling. The soft, soft newborn hair, and the way it feels during snuffling.

...Where were we? OH YES. Gifts for a friend. So, a big shiny geranium. Or, our supermarket has some really nice Gerbera daisies. I bought one on impulse and finally had to re-pot it because it's getting so big. Cheery, and they seem to do well indoors, or at least mine does. Or one of those cute little tea-rose plants!

Or a small framed picture of flowers might be nice. I've framed greeting cards before, and it doesn't cost much (especially if you find a frame on clearance, and I saw some nice colorful ones on clearance at Target the other day).

Or stationery? I always like pretty stationery.

A paperback, maybe, or a whole bunch of them if your library does cheap book sales like mine does. And those can go book-rate which is pretty cheap, if you send them by themselves.

Oh, a journal!

Or a "learn to" book: I had a lot of fun doing Drawing for the Artistically Undiscovered. It comes with the pencils, and you draw in the book itself, so it's like a drawing kit.

Which reminds me of a journal by Sark I FLIPPED over when I was in high school. I'm pretty sure it was this one. I haven't seen it in years so I don't know if it would appeal to adults as well.

Music! A tape of you playing songs she likes?

Okay, next idea. There are sites that offer support to people with illnesses, and what they do is they assign a "mail sender" to each person, or else they post mailing info for all the people and anyone can send them mail. The idea is that getting regular little surprises in the mail (a letter, a postcard, a greeting card, a little gift like soap or a box of tea or stickers, a medium gift like a mug or a hat or stationery or a $5 gift card) is good for morale. I can't remember any of the names of these sites (it seems like all of them involve the word "angel") (oh, here's the one I read about in People awhile back, and here's one for children), but it's the sort of thing you could do for her yourself: a steady stream of small things in the mail might have more impact (on your postage budget, too, unfortunately) than one big package.

Furthermore, you may be able to recruit others to work on this with you. I can't even tell you how much I love buying gifts and mailing them, so I'd LOVE to help---and maybe other bloggers/readers or others of your friends or her friends/relatives would want to help too.


jive turkey said...

Thinking good thoughts about your friend, Lee. I had a friend go through something similar a couple years ago. I've also done Chemoangels and really enjoyed it (there are two options: the gift-sending option, or the cheaper weekly pen-pal option). I can't improve on any of Swistle's awesome suggestions, but would love to send a card and small gift if you decide you want to do a blogger-wide effort. Keep me in the loop.

Mimi said...

Oh Swistle. You just made me want a newborn again.

Suzannah said...

Some things I liked when I was going through chemo:
DVDs of sitcoms (since I would often fall asleep before finishing a movie) - Arrested Development was my favorite
A seed catalog - fun to look through and think about spring
Some nail polish - my daughter and I enjoyed painting our nails together and it's nice to have pretty toenails when the rest of you is in sweatpants
Gift card to Sonic - their milkshakes got me through!
And really, I just enjoyed hearing from people, so notes are always great too.
Thinking about your friend, Lee.

Bell said...

Plush animals! Build a bear, definitely. It doesn't have to even be a bear, if she prefers other animals.

Music boxes are cute and have cheery little tunes, and most of them now you can start or stop at your will.

A good book is always nice.

Alias Mother said...

If her energy is low, maybe instead of a book you could get her some light and fluffy magazines, or even a subscription to keep the gift going. Sometimes when I am down a book feels like too much commitment, but who isn't up for the occasional spin through Glamour?

Miss Grace said...

A pretty bracelet?
Felt flowers.
Tiny little knicknacks.
Mixed tapes (CDs, whatever)
Fluffy good books with happy endings.
Handmade paper.

Brenna said...

If she needs to spend a lot of time in bed or in the hospital , maybe some things to make her more comfortable? Thick, warm socks; a pair of easy-on/easy-off slippers; a cozy sweater/bed jacket/reading-wrap type thing; a lap genie (

StephLove said...

My father died of cancer in January. For Christmas my sister and I got him an MP3 player with audio books loaded onto it.

Erin said...

How about a scrapbook of pictures of fun times with funny story recaps to remind her of the people who love her and are rooting for her?

Rah said...

You are the best, Swistle! A friend brought me a Willow Tree ceramic angel that was so meaningful to me--the symbolism of having something guarding over me was powerful. So maybe a figurine of some sort, not a sober one, but a sweet one with a pleasant countenance.

Alice said...

oh Lee, your poor friend :( i love all these suggestions, and would also totally participate in a "bloggers sending in gifts" program :)

Christina said...

Since she'll be in bed for awhile, perhaps a really nice pillow, blanket, or robe from BB&B?

Books on DVD? Stationary? Subscription to her fav magazine? Subscription to Netflix?

Gift card to a convenient service like PeaPod or Schwans - or Merry Maid? Something so she doesn't have to worry about household crap - just focus on getting better.

hobbychanger said...

Does Lee live close to this friend? If she does, someone to come do the weekly cleaning/laundry and just to keep her company. It's free, and when people come to visit, her friend won't have to worry about the state of her house. If she doesn't live close, she could always hire a house keeping service to come in for a week or take up a collection amongst the rest of the friends for it.

Also, if Lee lives close, someone to run her children to and from things, or the simple things, like braiding a little girls hair, coloring with kids while Lee's there, etc. It will just show this friend that her family will be taken care of after she's gone and give her the peace of mind she probably needs.

I also second the magazine subscription idea---but make it a weekly one so she gets something once a week versus just once a month.

Barb @ getupandplay said...

Swistle, you're a good one. I love the idea of joining together and it didn't even occur to me.

Here are my suggestions (I skimmed the comments, sorry if there are repeats):
A package of nice pens or markers
Blank note cards or thank you notes
Mad Libs/Sodoku/Crossword books
iTunes gift card (to download music/tv shows/apps, etc. of her choice)
Netflix subscription? They have an option that is very inexpensive.
If she has children, quiet activities that they could do in bed with her- simple crafts, coloring books, magnetic paper dolls, etc.

Best wishes to your friend, Lee!

JEN said...

Snuggly socks.
Lotion from Bath and Body Works
fun nail polish
Handheld games (like Yahtee & Poker)
A bunch of magazines

I had jaw surgeries and did a liquid only diet. Not so fun.

Jessa (bipolararmywife) said...

Do you have a few pictures of you and Lee together? Could you make her a small (couple of pages) scrapbook? Or use one of those really small photo albums (about $2) and fill it with various photos. Put one one photo and a notecard on the opposite side with the story or a poem or phrase.

Irismama said...

Magazines that appeal to her interests - gardening, crafts, Yankee Magazine, poetry journals, Oprah, Martha Stewart, Country Living, Sunset, etc. Collections of short stories. Humorous, escapist fiction or essays (David Sedaris, Carl Hiaasen, Garrison Keillor). Inspiring and gripping nonfiction paperback books like "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson. If she likes crossword puzzles and spelling, DVD's of the documentaries "Spellbound" (8 teenagers on their quest to win the National Spelling Bee) and Wordplay (about NY Times puzzle editor Will Shortz and his loyal fans). DVD set of Discovery Channel's Planet Earth series.

There are many online tutorials about how to make a simple, colorful pillowcase (all straight line sewing, not a lot of fabric required). And/or you could make or buy a beautiful lap quilt or throw.

Sending thoughts of healing and comfort to your friend.

Bratling said...

NOT plants. Plants contain dirt, dirt contains germs, the chemo will have compromised her immune system, making her susceptible to said germs. My mom had three primary cancers (breast, ovarian, and uterin, all at once.) and was housebound for months. She was told she had to wear a mask in public and wasn't even allowed to putter in her garden, so don't send flowers or plants.

DVDs would be good. Books. Books on tape. If she does any sort of crafts, send supplies for it. Things for her to do while she's laid up healing and the chemo to follow. CDs. A pretty shirt with a neck wide enough to access the chemo port. Pretty scarves because she's going to lose her hair. A pretty afghan. Magazines....

Katy said...

I've done my share of stints in the hospital (as a mom, not a patient). High on my list were DVDs and trashy magazines (to take your mind off things). If she's in bed a lot I would also think a really soft pair of PJs would be a treat and ditto on the thought about slippers if she's up and about--floor are gross and cold in those places.

Anonymous said...

I did not read all the comments so I apologize for any repeats.

Nail polish, a good novel, word search or cross word book, cashmere socks, really expensive good smelling lotion, candles, shower gel, CDs with classical or relaxing music, write her a letter and tell her what she means to you,

Amanda said...

When I go in for my infusions the medication always makes me freezing. I bring my own nap blanket from Brookstone - it's like heaven. AND I have got to start reminding myself to take along fuzzy warm socks. My feet were like ice on Friday.

In conclusion, fuzzy socks and a snuggly lap blanket.

Leslie said...

My mom's going through chemo, and a couple of things -- besides a steady stream of paperbacks -- that have gone over well:

A solar-powered flower. Very cheerful, and not obnoxious like the Spencer's Gifts variety. It's like a tiny version of Seymour's first baby if you're a *Little Shop of Horrors* fan.

And a solar-powered prism that shoots little rainbows all over the room. I can't find the one I got, but people seem to like this one.