A friend asked me yesterday what I would recommend as a present for someone going through cancer. That was an easy question to answer as my incredible family and friends were unbelievably generous and thoughtful when I was ill, and I still remember how their visits and gifts brought so much relief at such a difficult time.
So, here are some suggestions from the wonderful gifts I received when I was in the midst of cancer treatment:
Anything that brings comfort. Warm fleecy blankets, cashmere bed socks, furry hot water bottles, dressing gowns or pyjamas.
Gifts that make them laugh. Comedy books such as the Timewaster Letters or Football Bloopers kept me upbeat during chemo.
Chocolates and treats. A friend sent us a ginormous box of Thornton's chocolates (and when I say 'us', I mean that Dean was extremely keen to help me out by eating lots of them).
Flowers and plants. There's something lovely about being surrounded by flowers, and when I wasn't mobile, I loved looking at them and enjoying the scent.
Entertainment. A friend brought me an audio book subscription and others brought box-sets and DVDs which helped a great deal in keeping my spirits up.
Home-made presents. There's nothing lovelier than a home-made gift from a friend. Some friends brought round their own jam, or home-baked bread and soup and another sent a clotted cream tea. A colleague even did a painting of me and another made me some amazing hats that she had sewn padding into so that I didn't look bald.
Faith gifts. People from my church sent 'holding' crosses, books and prayer guides and the vicar came round regularly so that I could take Communion.
Memory gifts. Dean asked my friends to send me their favourite memories and photos. It was so lovely to receive these letters and every one brightened my day enormously. One friend created a memory box which I still treasure.
Other incredible gifts. A friend organised a video message for me from a comedienne I liked which was an amazing boost. Others made donations to a charity close to my heart and another raised funds to sponsor a room in my name at the new building the Oxford College I went to had recently built. That was a really incredible gift.
Whilst simply still being here is the most wonderful gift I could ever have dreamt of, a gift that I attribute entirely to God's grace, the other gifts were uplifting and tangible expressions of love. I will never, ever forget them.
I hope this helps you to find a suitable gift for someone who is suffering from cancer. However, and I speak entirely from the heart, the greatest gift is just your support, love and friendship. That means more than you can possibly know.