Gift ideas for women undergoing cancer treatment |
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JoAnne Klimovich Harrop

Lisa Lurie gets asked the same question all the time.

“People want to know what would make a great gift for somebody undergoing surgery, treatment or in recovery?” says Lurie of Squirrel Hill, a breast cancer survivor and co-founder of Cancer Be Glammed, a company that helps women diagnosed with all forms of cancer recover with dignity, self-esteem and style.

“Women still want to look good when undergoing cancer treatment. When I was in the midst of my medical journey, there weren’t a lot of resources to find stylish clothing and accessories. When you are dealing with cancer your needs are different.”

A place for help

Lurie and her good friend Ellen Weiss Kander started Cancer Be Glammed in 2009 as a way to help women hang on to their dignity and self-esteem while battling the side effects of cancer treatment.

The website is for nonmedical, appearance-related side effects of surgery and treatment, and to provide easy access to fashionable recover products and lifestyle solutions.

Weiss Kander died in 2012 from liver cancer and there was a time Lurie thought about not continuing the work she and her friend had started because it was too hard. But then, she says, Weiss Kander became her inspiration to keep going. This was a way to honor the memory of an amazing woman, Lurie says.

“Ellen was generous, smart, warm-hearted, very funny and extremely stylish,” she says. “She was a great business partner and an even better friend. It was tempting to shut down Cancer Be Glammed because it was so painful to continue without her, but this company is her legacy. It was her passion to help all women with cancer and as she would say, her hope that Cancer Be Glammed will take away some of your stress, guesswork and legwork on your own road to recovery.”

A personal story

Cancer affects the individual who has been diagnosed with a life-changing condition, as well as his or her family, friends, co-workers, Lurie says.

“When I was 47, I was diagnosed with breast cancer,” she says. “In a very short period of time, I became bald, breastless and bloated from surgery and chemotherapy. I could barely recognize myself. It was soul destroying.”

Having a supportive husband Brian and two loving daughters, Michelle and Gillian, who often bought her gifts during her recovery, really made a difference both physically and mentally, Lurie says.

The people surrounding the patient often want to help their loved one by buying a special gift for a birthday, anniversary or just to cheer the person up, but aren’t sure what to get.

With Mother’s Day a few weeks away here are a few ideas from Lurie:

Up your sleeve

Sometimes when women have breast cancer their arm swells and they need to wear a sleeve to help protect it. Lurie says to try a compression arm sleeve from a company called Lymphediva, which turns managing lymphadema into wearable art. There are more than 100 moisture-wicking designs.


Fun in the sun

Women undergoing cancer treatment are ultra-sun sensitive. Need to be extra protective of their skin. This company makes fashionable clothing with UPF 50+ sun protection built-in.

Coolibar is a company whose mission is to keep the world safe from sun damage, to protect those who suffer from a sun-related medical condition and to prevent everyone else from developing one, according to its website.


A change in diet

Women undergoing cancer treatment can have digestive issues or other dietary needs. “The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen Cook Book” by Rebecca Katz offers delicious, healthy recipes for people suffering from treatment-induced appetite loss and nutrition issues. Suggest that family prepare a special Mother’s Day meal for mom or for a loved one’s birthday or anniversary that everyone can enjoy together.



It is so important to have port-accessible clothing when undergoing cancer treatment and having that detail in athletic wear is perfect. An adaptable jacket with hidden zippers is ideal for port access, physical therapy and doctor’s visits.


Up and down

Treatment-induced menopause can cause fluctuating body temperatures as can certain chemotherapy drugs given during treatment. There are stylish wraps, ponchos and pashminas, which are an ideal solution to help keep you comfortable.


A cup of tea

Something as simple as sharing a cup of tea with a cancer patient can mean the world to her. Tea can be a soothing drink and a company such as Tea Forte offers handcrafted luxury tea blends, cups, saucers and tea pots.


Skin care

Think of your skin and what it goes through during radiation and/or chemotherapy. Try natural skin-care for treatment-sensitive chapped skin.


Additional information

Lurie and her team have created a one-of-a-kind guide book that prepares women, facing all forms of cancer, for the most common appearance-related questions and concerns. These include surgical changes, hair loss, weight fluctuations, wardrobe issues, skin care and more.

Featuring cancer survivors, this magazine-style guide empowers women to tackle day-to-day recovery challenges while maintaining their dignity, self- esteem and personal style.


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