by Jessica Zhang
Now it may seem that with a few words your life has been forever rocked and quite possibly broken. You have been told that you have cancer. Obviously everyone's cancer journey is unique and completely personal, but there are some things that cancer patients have in common. We have a hard road, and whether we have supporters or not, it's just going to be hard no matter what. That's why many companies and charities are so dedicated to ensuring that cancer patients can have a little bit of comfort here and there, through service assistance and care packages.
1. Cleaning for a Reason
Now this one is my favorite because I like a clean home and it's an incredible offer for the low, low price of Free. The program, once you are approved (and they will waitlist you if they are swamped but they are decent about not brushing you off entirely, though you may have to wait), they will send professional maids out to clean your home once a month for 3 months.
Downside? It's for women only and you must be undergoing treatment at the time of service.
Upside? It's not a skimpy cleaning, they really work hard and do an excellent job partnering with professional maids to make sure you have a clean environment to recuperate in.
2. Wally's Smile
This one I just received. It's amazing! I got a water bottle, books, journal, audio book, blanket, slipper socks, and more. It really has everything you need to make a trip to the hospital less terrible and a lot more comfy. The blanket is a soft fleece and the slippers are incredibly comfy and soft, easily my favorite.
Downside? None as far as I could tell. It came fast and was loaded with goodies. Requesting one was easy too.
Upside? Amazingly full of goodies. I loved this one.
3. Yana Cancer Comfort
These lovely packages include soft homemade blankets and hats and encouraging cards to reinvigorate the spirit as you fight. It's entirely free to request a care package, either for yourself or for someone you love facing cancer.
Downside? It's a very in demand package so you may wait a few weeks after requesting a package.
Upside? It's handmade, soft, and beautiful.
4. Phil's Friends
Each package includes cards of support and hope, written by volunteers, some of whom are cancer survivors themselves. There is a blanket and each box is slightly tailored to the person receiving it do there's no exact list of what's in it. But the items are thoughtfully chosen to make each patient more at ease, distracted from the struggle, or just plain comforted by the fact that someone took time to lovingly think about what you could want or need.
Downside? Again, there are thousands of requests for these packages so be prepared for a wait but they are definitely worth waiting for.
Upside? Great, tailored gifts that are Free.
5. The Care Box
So, the Care Box is absolutely incomparable in terms of programs because they let you pick what you need most from a list of really nice medical supplies like canes to comforting add-in like socks and hand sanitizer. It is a comprehensive list of pretty much every practical thing a cancer patient could need.
Downside? It's hard to get one. You need your doctor or social worker to send in a form verifying your condition and then they only service the central Texas area surrounding the greater region around Austin.
Upside? Like I said, real practical and durable medical supplies and care products. And again, Free.
6. Peppermint and Ginger Comfort Kits
These classy, thoughtful gifts are specifically designed to comfort you in the cancer struggle. From soft stretchy socks and toothpaste that doesn't dry out your mouth, to comforting sounds CDS, and activity books, this package will make relaxing in a hospital bed or your own a lot easier.
Downside? It was a little bit of a wait to receive one but as wait times go, no bad for a freebie.
Upside? Very easy to request and very thoughtfully picked array of gifts. (My favorites were the super soft lip balm and the CD.)
7. Good Wishes Scarves
This program aims to provide free beautiful scarves and wraps to women facing hair loss as a result of cancer treatment. I will admit the scarves are gorgeous and tailored to fit different head sizes so measure up before you order. Each design can be worn in several different ways. Also, you have the ability to designate 3 favorites that upon availability can be sent out. Getting your first choice isn't guaranteed but getting any of these gorgeous high-quality scarves is a real treat.
Downside? Another ladies only freebie. Sorry guys.
Upside? Each design is enchanting and everyone is sure to find several designs that you adore. If you find that you truly love too many to pick just three, the scarves are also for sale at really reasonable prices for the quality.
8. Look Good, Feel Better
This program is designed for women coping with self-image as they undergo treatment that causes all sorts of body image issues like losing your hair, disfiguring surgeries related to Breast cancer and other women's cancers, and the general loss of self that many women face as they push through their cancer diagnosis and face harsh treatment procedures. This program aims to show that any and all women are beautiful. Trained professionals come and provide beauty treatments and make overs to inspire the fighting spirit. Plus each woman walks away with a free bag of samples. So find a program and rsvp to participate.
Downside? Sorry boys, women only.
Upside? Free makeup samples and a chance to socialize with other women undertaking the same battle you are. Many women have said the comfort of the activity and socializing was the most strengthening and comforting part. Me? It just felt nice to be pampered.
9. Heavenly Hats
Most of these hats are donated so there's not much in the way of selection but they are decent hats, clean and cared for, and they do try to accommodate if you let them know specific needs, like fabric allergies.
Downside? It can take quite a while to receive your package and the hats aren't expensive or necessarily always homemade but they are chosen with comfort in mind and it beats going around bald.
Upside? Did I mention Free?
10. The Lydia Project
This program provides handmade tote bags with journals, books, small gifts, and encouraging messages. The bags are very exquisitely crafted and the items thoughtfully selected. The best part is the bag and the cards, knowing someone took that time just for you so you can be comforted by an item uniquely designed just for you. Sometimes cancer can leave you feeling alone in a crowd but these totes make you really feel treasured.
Downside? You may need to pay a small shipping fee. Also, the bags are on the small side, like hand purses, so they aren't as useful to really pack for the hospital trips, unless it's a short visit. But they are genuinely beautiful and they come with a card of the name of the person who made it for you.
Upside? Gorgeous, handmade, and as I've said before, Free!
Please remember that nearly all these kinds of programs exist because of the compassionate and generous donations of people from all over the world. If you have the ability and inclination, please donate to keep these programs running for the benefit of cancer patients everywhere. Any little bit helps.
Jessica Zhang is a Cancer Survivor, mother, wife, and devoted penny pincher. She is constantly creating new ways to save time and money as she juggles raising a family and wrestling never-ending medical bills. She's passionate about finding ways to get more for less and helping others do the same.
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