I have found in my two bouts with breast cancer that when you get cancer, people want to give you stuff. They also offer to cook for you, drive you to appointments, even clean your house. But something in the human psyche seems to make us want to give tangible things to those who are sick.
For instance, when I was first diagnosed I received several books on breast cancer; on how to live with cancer; and even books of people's personal philosophy (Deepak Chopra was big in this category). I kept a copy of Rachel Naomi Remen's Kitchen Table Wisdom because it was so well written.
Then there was the pink stuff -- cans of tea from The Republic of Tea labelled Sip For The Cure; socks bearing the pink breast cancer ribbon; a fleece vest with same purchased via The Breast Cancer Site; even a stuffed dog version of Sparkle , Gilda Radner's pet.
I am sure a percentage of each of these items benefited breast cancer research, mammograms for low-income women and other worthy causes. But how much? And wouldn't the recipient organization be better served by a straight donation of $10 than a few cents from the purchase of a tchatchke?