What are the best and worst holiday gifts for people with cancer? I just wrote a short piece about that on my Huffington Post/Redroom blog, and was reminded, once again, that when it comes to such things, there is no best or worst, just as there is no right or wrong. We are all different; each situation is unique. This became clear when a friend posted a comment sharing that she has given my book to several of her friends with cancer, and now felt a little embarrassed. One of the worst gifts, I wrote in my blog, is a cancer book.
I had to pick up the phone, call her, and laugh. “Yeah, I didn’t think my publisher would like my saying that, either.”
What I should have written re: cancer book gifts (but did not, to keep it compact and readable) is, “Give whatever you’d like, but make sure to emphasize when you give it that ‘It’s not a problem at ALL if you want to exchange it or don’t want a book at all.’ Just don’t say, ‘You HAVE TO read this book!”
One inexorable truth is that people need and want to feel respected, heard, and cared for. You can demonstrate your caring by asking permission. Ask it before giving advice. Before visiting. Before launching into a diatribe about anything while in the presence of someone who's fragile. Before sharing news of a friend’s cancer. Before sharing stories about other people’s cancer with your friend.
I'd appreciate your comments about the best and worst gifts and will hopefully write an update in the next week, while there’s still plenty of time to shop and create fun coupons for friends, loved ones, and colleagues with cancer!
Author of Help Me Live (REVISED): 20 things people with cancer want you to know
Causes Lori Hope Supports
The Beverly Fund
The Lung Cancer Alliance
Women's Cancer Resource Center
The National Lung Cancer Partnership
The Bonnie Addario...