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Friendships…. they empower us and lift us up when we need it most. From the little things like a friend telling a joke to brighten our day to providing dinner during a tough time—we all love and appreciate our friends and the things they do to help better our lives. When a friend is diagnosed with cancer, you might be left wondering what you can do to help. While there is no perfect answer, to be there for them providing support and a listening ear is the best gesture you can offer. A cancer diagnosis shouldn’t change a friendship, but create a more appreciative relationship between both parties. In lieu of National Friendship Day this month, we wanted to suggest some ideas for fun “blessing bags” or chemo care packages to put together for friends you might have undergoing chemo. These packages contain different items – both for comfort and entertainment – that your loved one might need or want during their treatments.

Suggested Care Package Items:

  1. Warm socks or hats -  Often treatment centers are very cold and chemo increases the body’s sensitivity to extreme temperatures. These factors leave patients feeling a bit chilly. Including socks and hats will help them stay comfortable during long treatment hours.
  2. Cold-Absorbing Towel – These are cooling towels that you would take to a hot football game or use while doing yardwork. Because of the increased sensitivity to temperature, patients undergoing chemotherapy can feel overheated as well. This is especially true when they are dealing with the scorching temperatures during an Alabama summer.
  3. Lip Balm and Hard Candies – Chemo often causes dry mouth that can crack and chap the lips. Include lip balm that contains shea butter and petroleum to help patients protect their pucker. Hard candies will help them to keep a pleasant taste in their mouth while also maintaining lubrication for the tongue and throat. Many patients prefer hard candies containing ginger because it aids with chemo-related nausea.
  4. Various hydrating beverages – Chemo greatly dehydrates the body. Water bottles, Gatorade and coconut water are great items to include in packages for rehydration. Also, caffeine-free lemon and ginger teas can be included as they are helpful for soothing the stomach.
  5. Magazines, iTunes gift cards and books – Treatments can require a great amount of time and your loved one might be spending a large part of their day confined to an infusion chair. Provide them with items as “happies” that will keep them entertained, whether like they listening to music or reading the latest gossip magazines.

Whatever you decide to include in your blessing bags your friend will appreciate the thoughtful gesture! For more information on how to help your loved one after a cancer diagnosis or how you can contribute care packages to other cancer patients, contact Southern Cancer Center at (888) 625-6896.