Many hospital cancer wards and intensive care wards ban fresh flower gifts for patients because of the risk of infection. Chemotherapy and Radiation treatments typically lower the patient's immune system and the bugs and fungal spores present in fresh cut flowers can often put vulnerable patients in more harm's way.

Often when someone we know is diagnosed with cancer, one of the first things we think of is to send flowers to say "we're thinking of you.” Unfortunately, if flowers are sent to an oncology ward, your thoughtful gesture is often left out in reception away from the person it was intended for.

10 practical alternative gifts to send instead of flowers

There are many practical and pampering gifts that you can send instead of flowers.

1) Good moisturising lotions or lip balms are great (natural is best). This is because chemotherapy and radiation is often drying on the skin leaving it cracked, red, and sore. Try not to send lotions that are heavily scented as this can increase nausea often associated with cancer treatments.

2) Nice soft, warm bed socks as feet can be cold during treatments.

3) Lovely new slippers for walking across cold floors or to the bathroom.

4) A tri-pillow for added comfort while in bed or sitting in a chair.

5) Special pen & journal for writing notes, reminders, or journaling.

6) Magazines.

7) Soft eye-mask to block out light and aid sleep and naps especially with bright lighting in hospital wards.

8) Soft beanies to keep head warm during treatments.

9) Comfy throw-blanket for keeping warm during chemo treatments. Lovely to use while in the hospital or at home for daytime naps on the sofa.

10) Soft pyjamas for hospital stays.

We could only find one New Zealand online store that specialised in gift hampers for cancer patients. Visit Love To Give for more hamper ideas for both men and women.