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what to put in a care package for family of child with cancer

Updated on August 1, 2013

Childhood Cancer Involves the Whole Family

When a child is diagnosed with cancer, whether it be leukemia or any other form, it's devastating. What you can do to assist a family with a child who has recently been diagnosed and is being treated for cancer - more tips and advice below!

Parents and Siblings Need Support, too

Very often, parents of a child diagnosed with cancer go from the paediatrician or doctor's office straight to the hospital or treatment center without much time in-between. If you're a close friend or family member, you want to know what you can do to help.

Sending greeting cards with well-wishes will let parents know they're not alone. Even when the child is home from the hospital, the family still needs a lot of love and support. Making frequent phone calls and sending cards often does aid in the healing process. Choose cards with a positive message of encouragement and hope. For children with cancer, artist Corrie Kuipers has created a line of colorful, upbeat greeting cards especially for them, containing messages of encouragement and support.

Greeting Cards for Kids with Cancer







More tips and gift ideas at the Cancer Touches Everyone blog - updated daily.

and Gifts for Pediatric Cancer Patients


A cancer diagnosis in a child comes as an extreme shock for parents, who must then focus all their energies on their son or daughter. Normal daily activities can fall by the wayside. Be supportive, but rather than say, "I'm here, what can I do?" say instead, "Can I pick up groceries for you? Run errands? Walk the dog? Feed the cat? Water the plants? Pick up siblings from school? Take siblings for the weekend? Pick up prescriptions? Cook a meal? Mow the lawn?" or any other tasks you think might benefit the family. Don't be afraid to ask. Also, a child with cancer can put a huge strain on the best relationship. If possible, volunteer to stay with the hospitalized child a few hours while parents go out for a meal or a movie and share some alone time together.


Create a phone tree of friends and family, and designate one person (or yourself) to coordinate with the family to spread news and requests to the list. That way parents only have to make one phone call to update everyone, which is one less stressful thing they have to deal with. Also help put together a list of people who have helped, offered to help, given gifts, etc. so they can be thanked later, and no one will be left out. Organize neighbors to pay visits, do chores, run errands, help with babysitting, do gardening, deliver a hot meal, etc. Do a collection drive to help raise money to defray family's expenses. Create a list of web sites and telephone numbers parents can contact for help with financials and other support.


Please don't relate horror stories you've read on the internet or heard from someone else. If parents ask for no visitors, respect their wishes, but if they welcome visits, take the time and go. One of the greatest gifts you can give is yourself.


Donate blood or platelets at the hospital-children with cancer tend to need frequent transfusions. If you can't give yourself, organize a blood donation drive.


Create an emergency care package filled with practical thoughtful essentials that will be hugely appreciated by the parents of a hospitalized child. Get together with local businesses, charities, friends, family members and neighbors to help fund the care package. Use a tote bag rather than a basket or box, and include any (or all) of the following:

*Toothpaste and toothbrushes, mouthwash, dental floss

* Hypoallergenic, fragrance free soap, shower gel, shampoo, washcloth

* Razor and shaving cream (for Dad), sanitary napkins (for Mom)

* Deodorant

* Box of tissues

* Hypoallergenic fragrance-free hand cream

* Antibacterial wipes

* Big bottle of antibacterial hand gel

* Thick warm socks

* Soft comfy blanket for each parent

* Gift certificates for gas, grocery store, retail stores, on-line retailers, restaurants that deliver

* Pre-paid phone calling cards and SMS gift cards

* Blank journal, ballpoint pens, blank notecards with pre-stamped envelopes

* MP3 player or Ipod

* Audio books

* Adult Tylenol

* Digital thermometer

* Calming herbal tea, instant hot chocolate, instant coffee, a mug for each parent

* Mints, gum, hard candies

* Roll of quarters (for vending machines)

* Snacks like crackers; lightly salted nuts; breakfast bars; apple chips; dried fruit like cherries, blueberries, bananas, raisins, cranberries; cereal bars; homemade cookies; pretzels; 100% juice in boxes; single-serving cups of fruit, applesauce, pudding; Carnation® Instant Breakfast mixes. For more luxurious healthy treats, try on-line at

Healthy Snack Store or Yum Yum Snacks

* Hospital parking or cafeteria vouchers

* Helpful pamphlets or books (check hospital's library)

Do what you can, but above all, stay in touch!

Comments welcome, spammers are not.

Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

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    • Craftypicks profile image

      Lori Green 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Blessed. Very good advice. I have a child with cancer so it hit home.

    • profile image

      candidaabrahamson 5 years ago

      Another great one--worth a squidlike and a pin! Your sensitivity on this topic is profound.

    • profile image

      KidsOverKancer 6 years ago

      Love this! If anyone is interested in donating to children with cancer, or wishes to get in touch with a family in need please contact me! Look at my lens that features my non-profit organization Kids Over Kancer.

    • e-xplorations profile image

      e-xplorations 6 years ago

      I like your lens. It's good to know that there are people who supports cancer patients.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      What about cards and notes for kids who lose a parent to cancer?