Thursday, November 28, 2019

Because Love Offers a Wonderful Love Heal Journal and Big Hug Blanket -- Both Great Gift Ideas for Those Battling Cancer This Holiday Season (Review)

Disclosure: I was sent samples from the vendor in exchange for an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.

Christmas has become a bittersweet time of year for me ever since I was diagnosed with stage 2 nasopharyngeal carcinoma back on Christmas Eve in December of 2007.  I still remember the call I received from my ENT doctor telling me that I had cancer.  Even though I dropped the phone and went numb after the I heard the words, "I'm sorry to tell you that you have cancer," I knew my life was changed with that one phone call.  Cancer has wrecked havoc on my family, and has taken so many loved ones from both sides of my family.  Before my diagnosis, it was only my mom left on her side of the family, as her sister and family had passed away from the cancers at early ages.  But, after I was able to speak and picked the phone back up and hung up with the doctor, I knew the first person I had to mother.  I knew this was not the news she ever wanted to hear, but I needed her more than ever.  And, in record time both her and my Dad raced down to my home in CT from MA to be with me.  I was so distraught over the cancer news and couldn't be alone.  Shortly after they arrived, my husband came home, and together we started to make a plan of the next steps.  Ultimately, I ended up seeking out treatment at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston as my cancer was rare, and the small country hospital in my town had never seen a patient with my type of cancer.  I wasn't going to be the first for them, as I was fighting for my life, and hoping that I would hear "You are in remission" after treatment.

My cancer treatment included 40 rounds of radiation to my head and neck area, as the cancer had traveled to my lymph nodes, in addition to being behind my nose and in the back of my throat.  I also had weekly high dose cisplatin chemo treatment, which had to be scaled back and spaced out after the first two treatments as I developed ringing in my ears and neuropathy in hands, and the doctors hoped that by spacing out it would save my hearing and hands.  They couldn't decrease the dosage, as they didn't want to give my cancer time to spread.  While my treatment lasted from March 1st to the end of May, the recovery from the radiation and chemo took over a year. I couldn't eat due to the burns in my mouth and throat, so I had a feeding tube put in my stomach for feedings. This was kept in until the end of the year, as was the port a cath they inserted in my collarbone area to do the chemo infusions and hydration treatments.

I am thankful to say that while I sit here and write up this post, I am celebrating 11 years of remission. While the doctors will never say I am cancer-free because of my type of cancer, I will take hearing "no noticeable cancer" and "you are still in remission" with each annual oncology visit.  There have been ups and downs and cancer relapse scares over the years, but knock on wood that this will be my one and only cancer I have to battle in my lifetime.  When I think about my cancer, I always find myself thinking that while I wish I never had to go through all this or deal with the life-long side effects (some of which are painful), I am glad that it was me and not my parents or brothers. My parents were so strong (while at times I knew they were falling apart inside) and helped me get through my treatments, even on the dark days when I wanted to give up.  I don't think that I could have been as strong as them support wise, knowing the history of cancer in my family and how no one else beat their cancer.  I love my family so much, and I am so blessed not only to be here with celebrating the holidays eleven years later, along with my two healthy and happy girls, but that they haven't had to get a phone call like I did on Christmas Eve 12 years ago.

The reason I wanted to share my cancer story is that while in treatment I had family and friends asking my parents and I what they could get me for a gift to help with this bump in the road/difficult time in my life.  Many people wanted to help in some way, but had no idea what to do or say.  All I really needed was a hug and reassurance (even if they didn't know the outcome) that I would be OK, and that I "got this."  I also would have wanted them to know that my concern at that moment in time was my parents.  They were my support team and without them I wouldn't have been able to get through my difficult treatments and be here writing this post today.  I found myself journaling a lot while sitting in the chemo chair for the 5-6 hr. treatments.  Mainly, I was putting together a bucket list of things I wanted to do when I beat cancer's butt, as well as just writing inspirational quotes and song lyrics I read or listened to that seemed to resonate with how I was feeling and what I was going through.  I ended up going through a handful of notebooks during my treatment, and still have them to this day.  It has been some time since I flipped through them. But, just knowing that I have them, along with all the cards and letters sent to me by family and friends sharing their love and support, means the world to me.

With the holidays fast approaching, there are so many people battling illness including cancer that will struggle with the holidays.  Some may be stuck in the hospital or need to stay away from groups due to their compromised immune system. I was just like these people back in treatment and the holidays were a lonely time.  While I was fighting for my life, the world was still going on around me.  It wasn't waiting for me, and I think that was kind of a shock, but also a blessing, as it made me starting putting my life into perspective and realizing that life is precious and we are all living on borrowed time.  We need to cherish every moment we have, and be sure to tell those we love just how much they mean to us.  

Because of my cancer diagnosis and journey, I have had many friends and family, as well as blog readers reach out to me asking about gift ideas that they could give loved ones who are battling cancer or an illness. Some are clueless on what they could give to someone fighting for their life.  I have to remind them that we aren't dying..and they are trying out hardest to fight to stay alive.  While their support is a blessing and much needed, if they want to provide a gift, there are few things that would help with our journeys.  Recently, I had the opportunity to check out two products from Because Love, and wanted to share them with you, as you think about what to give those family and friends who may find themselves like I did all those years ago with a cancer diagnosis, or other illness that will turn their world upside down.  When I saw the Love Heals Journal and Big Hug Blanket, I couldn't help but tear up. These two products from Because Love were the perfect gifts that I would have loved to have received to help me with my cancer journey.  And, I was so thankful that I found out about these so that I could share them with you this holiday season.  

Here is more about the Big Hug Blanket, which comes with fabric tags that can be personalized with thoughtful messages and attached to the blanket, as well as the Love Heals Journal, that offers up creativity-inspiring pages to help you navigate your cancer journey and help you put your words to paper...

"The holidays are the best time of year to spread love and comfort to people who need it - for grandma, someone far away, or a loved one who is going through a difficult time. Because Love’s Big Hug Blanket is a personalized lap blanket to remind someone special they are loved. Use permanent marker or fabric paint to write messages, silly notes, uplifting quotes, prayers - anything you want!

The founder of Because Love and the creator of the Big Hug Blanket used her art therapy background to create one-of-a-kind gifts when her best friend was diagnosed with cancer. Made with luxurious grey knit and glittering metallic thread, the Big Hug Blanket is designed to wrap someone you care about in love and make them feel special no matter where they go.

The Big Hug Lap Blanket includes:

  • Big Hug lap blanket - 28” x 40”
  • 6 grey velvet-back tags (4 grey grommet closures, 2 rhinestone jewel closures)
The Big Hug Bundle Kit includes:

  • Big Hug lap blanket - 28” x 40”
  • 24 tags of grey grommet closures
  • 9 tags of rhinestone jewel closures

Cancer is hard to talk about.  But the conversation can be made easier with Because Love’s Love Heals Journal . 

This journal creates an outlet to navigate the wide range of emotions that come along with a diagnosis, all while reminding the patient with cancer that they are loved and supported.

More than a traditional journal that is just blank pages in a book, it is a complete kit for heartfelt personalization from the gifter and provides a medium to make the difficult conversation and emotions around cancer a creative and individual experience filled with love.

 The Love Heals Journal kit includes:

  • One (1) instruction key for the gifter outlining how to personalize the journal before gifting
  • Two (2) metallic sticker sheets
  • One (1) embroidered sticker sheet
  • Two (2) small envelopes (retail therapy, and inspirational words from a stranger)
    • Retail therapy funds to be provided by the gifter
    • The gifter asks someone who does not know the recipient to write inspirational words to look to during the cancer journey
  • Three (3) gold paper clips tassels
  • Silver glitter washi tape
  • One (1) embroidered fabric bookmark with purple velvet backing and tassels
  • More than 160 journaling pages
  • 28 guided journaling prompts to help with all the emotions that come with cancer
  • 14 inspirational quotes and messages
  • 90 blank pages with space to write, draw, and create

The Love Heals Journal features pages including:

  • Writing & Doodling prompts
  • “Get your anger out” and throw a “crayon temper tantrum”
  • Cancer “Chuck It List” - tasks you’re going to stop doing now that you have cancer (e.g. folding laundry)
  • Draw Your Doctor
  • “Treat Yourself Permission Slip” - grant yourself permission to do anything you want
  • A retail therapy wishlist & envelope for funds

Like I mentioned above, I was sent samples of the journal and blanket, and really liked them.  I truly wish these were around when I was battling cancer, as they would have been a nice gift to receive.  But, now that I know about them, I will definitely be gifting them to those near and dear with me, who find themselves being diagnosed with cancer, and needing a little pick me up gift that reminds them that they are loved and supported.  One thing I have done since my cancer journey is helping others who are battling cancer.  I walked in their shoes and want to be the shoulder to lean on or be there to listen to them cry or vent.  Cancer brings a whole range of emotions that go up and down based on the day and how you are feeling.  Journaling really helped me get through my treatment, and was an outlet when I didn't want to burden my parents with my fears or how I was feeling. I wrote everything down as a way to get them off my chest and out of my head, as I knew I needed a clear head if I wanted to stay strong and positive.  And, when I found myself sad and wanting to give up, I would wrap myself under a blanket and sit with my parents or snuggle with my dog, and just be in the moment, and let myself experience all the emotions so they didnt' stay bottled up.  Eventually I would get out of my funk, and have a fire inside me that would push me to continue and not give up, as I knew my parents, family and friends wouldn't want me to either.  The Big Hug Blanket would have been great to have, to have those loved ones leave me positive messages to read when all I wanted to do was hide under a blanket and hope I woke from this bad dream.  Also, chemo rooms are really cold and a nice blanket like this would have kept me warm and cozy. :-)

I could go on and on sharing about my cancer journey, or these two wonderful gift ideas from Because Love.  But, instead, why not pick one or both up to gift to that special someone in your  life battling cancer or an illness this holiday season. These personal gifts will remind them that they are loved and supported, and that is the best gift of all, as we all need to be reminded that be are loved.  So, stop overthinking what type of gift you give someone with cancer or a life-threatening illness, and gift them the Love Heals Journal and/or the Big Hug Blanket from Because Love.  They will thank you for, and cherish them for years to come! :-)

To learn more about Because Love and the journal and blanket I mentioned above, head on over to

Disclosure: I was sent samples from the vendor in exchange for an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.

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