Several weeks ago a friend shared with me that her co-worker had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was scheduled to have a mastectomy. Her office wanted to do something special for her and asked for some gift ideas. I provided a list that I've since massaged and am now sharing it with you ...just in time for Christmas...though barely.
#1 Clay Cross
This list is in no particular order, though I'm leading with a "must have." A dear friend from church gave me this clay cross when she heard of my diagnosis and impending uni-lateral mastectomy last year. Your fingers wrap perfectly around the cross for soothing comfort. I slept with this at night and sometimes still hold it to quell anxiety. You can find it on Amazon. I don't know why or how it works, but me thinks it contains elf magic.
#2 Items Designed to Pamper
All women relate to the mantra "Look Good, Feel Good." Understandably, when you receive a cancer diagnosis, you have every right to sleep, eat and breathe in nothing but jammies and a robe for as long as your heart desires. But there comes a time when you must get groceries. Some fun bath accessories, a dab of nail polish, lip balm/gloss can help you face the world - or at least the UPS delivery person. If you know of someone recently diagnosed with cancer, or any kind of cancer, consider a basket full of small gifts designed to pamper. Toss a scented candle in there while you're at it.
#3 Novelty Socks
Now, if your friend has just indulged in a pedicure with some of the items you gave her in the gift basket, she may not want to cover her freshly lacquered toes with fun, cozy socks. But she will eventually, and probably before the polish chips away to nothing but little squares of paint on each nail. I received several pairs of warm socks and I wore them all. of. the. time. Still do.
#4 A Journal
Now, I need to confess that I'm not a huge journaler, though every other year I tell myself I'm going to start doing it. The point is, many women do, and if you're looking for a great gift idea for someone who has been diagnosed with cancer, consider giving a journal with a nice pen. This way they can record all of their thoughts and perhaps prayer requests and see just how good God is at answering them.
A merry heart does good, like medicine, according to the book of Proverbs, so give the gift of laughter! I adore Chonda Pierce and was thankful to receive this after my diagnosis, but any DVD featuring a comedian can help redirect downcast thoughts that may be brewing and serve as a reminder that there's still a lot of joy to be had in this imperfect world of ours.
"Music has charms to soothe the savage breast." I always thought it soothed the savage beast, but considering the topic I'm happy to be corrected. I fell asleep too many nights to count listening to Collin Raye's CD entitled His Love Remains. I recommend any comforting music, praise songs in particular, that can help ease a troubled heart and mind.
#7 Adult Coloring Book
Adult coloring books with colored pencils and pens are FUN gifts! But beware, if you give them to someone who has children living at home, they may never see your gift again.
My sister-in-law Kym gave me this blanket and I've used it so much I've worn a hole through it! I honestly felt like Linus from Peanuts the way I took this all through the house with me for MONTHS after my surgeries. Who am I kidding? I STILL sleep with it! Give the gift of warmth and security with a plush blanket.
Shortly after my diagnosis I was told to eat more chocolate. Not by my doctor, but by someone who had walked this journey before me so I trusted her and ate my fair share. I have no regrets. Nor any more chocolate. I hope Santa thinks to put some in my stocking this Christmas!
#10 Cute Mug & Beverages
What goes great with chocolate? Anything. I mean, coffee, unless you're trying to sleep at night. Then I grab some Sleepytime Tea. Consider giving a decorative mug full of tea bags and/or a bag of coffee...with chocolate.
#11 Inspirational Book
Of course I must add Joy Is Contagious...Cancer Isn't to this list of gift ideas, and not just because I assembled it and have a chapter in it. But because the stories remind us that even when we're facing something as scary as cancer, God is with us. And as far as gifts go, His son, Jesus, is the greatest gift of all. Additionally, the book goes well with chocolate and coffee while wrapped all snug-like-a-bug-in-a-rug with a blanket. And don't forget the socks.
What would you add to this list?
The last couple of nights I haven't slept well, even with meds to assist me. It almost seems strange that exactly one year ago I awoke early in the morning, refreshed from a good night's sleep, ready for my mastectomy. No tossing and turning for me then. I was confident and at peace, ready to do what was necessary to tell cancer, "Buh-bye."
[PRETEND THERE'S A PICTURE OF DECATUR MORGAN HOSPITAL HERE. I'D LIKE TO INCLUDE ONE TO SHOW WHERE I HAD MY SURGERY BUT IT'S UNDER CONSTRUCTION, SO THERE ARE NO GOOD PICS]
It's amazing when I think of how much has transpired over the past year. I developed anxiety - which praise the Lord is much better!, started Tamoxifen, developed depression from the Tamoxifen - which praise the Lord is much better!, dropped 20 lbs - which praise the Lord I feel better!, had another surgery to get my breast implant, took a girls' trip, and wrote (well, actually assembled) a book. It has been an eventful 365 days.
I'm only now realizing that breast cancer will always be a part of my life story. Someone recently told me, "You had breast cancer, it doesn't define you." While true that it doesn't define me, I'm still actively fighting it and don't know when - if ever - I'll consider it as part of my past instead of my present.
I'd like to "move on" but am hindered by side effects to contend with, another cancer-related surgery to contemplate, shoulder pain which may or may not be related to past surgeries that keeps me up at night, etc...
I don't share this to complain but to help others unfamiliar with cancer know that it's not something you can easily sweep under the rug and pretend is no longer there. While the cancer itself may be gone (here's hoping so) the collateral damage remains. Doesn't mean life is no longer good, it's just different.
One benefit to having cancer that I didn't expect when I was first diagnosed and focused on myself, was how it would enable me to help others in their time of need. Just two days ago I found myself on the phone with a total stranger named Reva who was preparing for a mastectomy and scared of the unknown. I shared with her what to expect and prayed with her.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ." ~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
I also had a Comfort & Joy Pillow sent to Reva to help with her recovery. Julie McAbee, one of the women featured in Joy Is Contagious...Cancer Isn't, began a ministry creating and mailing pillows to comfort women following a mastectomy. She had sent me one before my surgery and I used it for months. Check out her ministry HERE and if you think about it, would you please pray for Reva's recovery?
There's so much I'm grateful for as I look back over the past year and so much I'm anticipating as we head into Christmas and the New Year. Even if I end up dragging some of cancer's ill effects with me into 2018, I'll do so full of hope, trusting that my tomorrows will be better than today because today is so much brighter than it was a year ago.
Even if I slept better then.
Happy St. Nicholas Day
Funny that the title "Author" appears above this description yet I have no idea what to share about myself in this space! How about my first name is Kim. My last name is Tisor. Tisor rhymes with miser, though I try not to be one.
For more information about me, please visit the author page.