What to buy when the only ‘gift’ your mum wants for Mother’s Day is … health!

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(Patient clothing company INGA Wellbeing co-founder Nikla Lancksweert suggests some thoughtful gifts for mums that are battling a chronic illness this Mother’s Day.)

My mother was always undemanding when it came to Mother’s Day gifts from us as children. “I just want a cuddle,” she would say, smiling sweetly and pulling us in tight. Or sometimes, “A kiss would be lovely”!  Frustrated not to have received clear instruction on how to spoil the woman that made our lives so wonderful , we would roll our eyes in exasperation and at the same time breathe a selfish sigh of relief that our precious pocket money need not be spent. An expression of love was all she said she wanted, so granting her heart’s desire was going to be easy! A homemade card, breakfast in bed, a cuddle and a kiss and Mothers’ Day was done and dusted until next year!

But when my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Mother’s Day became more complicated. Emotionally and practically. By then, my sister and I were adults and could afford to buy ‘real’ gifts and yet now we were actually less able to grant our mother’s one true heart’s desire: Health!

A kiss and a cuddle were still, of course, appreciated by mum as she courageously looked  cancer in the eye and fought back, but they were not enough anymore. A longer life is what she wanted. A longer life, so that she could enjoy the kisses and cuddles of her grandchildren.

So, as the prospect of another Mother’s Day spent in hospital loomed large and no magic wand seemed to be available for purchase, I racked my brain for other ways that we could show this extraordinary woman that we loved and appreciated her and understood her situation sufficiently to be, at the very least, helpful and supportive.  Gifts that didn’t make a mockery of the fact that she was very seriously unwell, and at the same time would be a pleasure to receive.

Here is my shortlist of ideas. Perhaps you have others to add? I’d love to hear from you.

  • Something to pamper: A box of treats: these days there are several online companies offering beautifully packaged gift boxes filled with carefully selected items to pamper and support a loved one going through medical treatment. For example, TheBoostboxcompany.com which offers a great selection of ready-made boost boxes or an option for you to hand-pick your own items from a selection of natural and therapeutic products guaranteed to brighten your mum’s day.
  • Something to wear: Attractive adapted clothing: Well, of course, I have to mention the INGA Wellbeing range of attractive and comfortable clothing for patients as it is named after my mother Inga and was inspired by her struggles to look and feel like herself while undergoing medical treatment. Dressed in our range of adapted women’s wear, or mixed and matched with her own wardrobe favourites, your mum will be more comfortable and able to keep her dignity. From personal experience, I can honestly say that wearing INGA Wellbeing clothes really perks up your morale and makes you less reticent about having visitors.
  • Something to beautify: Skin and cosmetic products: Patients’ skin can be particularly sensitive as a result of medical treatment and days spent in air conditioned rooms. Several firms have created specific skin care and cosmetic ranges suited to patients’ particular needs. Examples are: memecosmetics.fr  or www.lindiskin.com. There are others. Offering your mum a consultation with a beauty therapist trained to work with patients might also make for a great Mother’s Day gift.  In the UK, Beauty Despite Cancer can answer any inquiries you might have, and in Belgium consultants such as ChacUnic and ResterFemme offer a personalised service.  You may find that the support services at your mother’s hospital has a list of beauticians that they can provide.
  • Something decorative: Pretty Medical ID bracelet or glasses necklace: Ok, ok, I know you are probably thinking that the words ‘pretty’ and ‘ID bracelet’ don’t belong together, but actually more companies have realised that while vitally important many women don’t enjoy wearing something around their wrists that reminds them of their ill health and are now offering a variety of medical jewellery that doesn’t stigmatise the wearer. Examples are laurenshope.com  or www.universalmedicalid.co.uk     Alternatively, there are also rather attractive necklaces with loops onto which glasses can be hung in order to keep them always to hand. A quick search on the internet will certainly reveal one that your mum will like.
  • Something to relax: A massage, or acupuncture or reiki session: Often the side effects of certain medications – nausea, aching muscles, headaches etc – can be very debilitating on top of the symptoms of the illness itself. There are many studies and personal testimonies that suggest that doing yoga and meditation can be hugely beneficial, as can having a massage, or acupuncture, reiki or one of any number of other supportive therapies. Never recommended instead of medication, but certainly recognised as helping to boost patients, these therapies are often available via patient support organisations and specialised therapists. Check with your mum’s care team as they may be able to recommend someone local to her.
  • Something to brighten: Silk flowers: Far removed from the dusty, old silk flowers of our grandmother’s era, the new generation of hassle-free bouquets provide colour and a feminine touch without any risk of an allergic reaction or knocking over the vase. I particularly like the designs by Abigail Bryans on NotOnTheHighStreet.com as they are also the perfect size for those small hospital bedside cabinets.
  • Something helpful: A bed or chair caddy: something to help keep key items such as glasses, remote control, pen, paper, crossword puzzle and book organised and close to hand.  There are many different options online and you can choose the style, look and functionality that best suits your mother’s needs, but whichever you opt for, this gift is one that will certainly make her life a little easier and a lot less frustrating!
  • Something to distract/entertain: A lightweight e-reader: an ipad or Kindle, or some other clever smartpad that she can use to store lots of books without the weight or inconvenience of carrying lots of …errr… books around. A great way to pass the time during long treatments or between appointments.
  • Something to look forward to: a trip or a visit: And lastly, but by no means, least, having something planned/promised to look forward to can really boost patients’ morale. Whether it is a trip to her favourite tea room, or a little city break or even just the grandchildren coming to visit her, knowing that there is fun ahead can really make the tough days more bearable. No need to put a date on it as we all know that during medical treatment dates can slip, but perhaps give her a sort of ‘voucher’ that she can ‘cash in’ whenever she next feels up to it.
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  • Universal Medical ID

    Happy Mother’s Day! Thank you Nickla for mentioning us on this very helpful and heartwarming piece. Medical IDs are a beautiful gift for mother’s day and unlike ordinary pieces of jewelry – medical alert bracelets or necklaces can offer safety and peace of mind.

    P.S. We have plenty of medical ID styles that can match beautiful wardrobes from Inga’s collection 🙂

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