Paula, I've very sorry to hear about your aunt and hope that her treatment goes well. The idea of a hat is a good one and so is the sweater. What about a shrug or a shawl that's easy to make? Here's one pattern
for a shrug and a search on Ravelry (free to join) may bring up others. If you have yarn already you could try an advanced search specifying the yarn weight and needle size. Hope all goes well.