Cancer Patient Makes Cards She Wishes People Sent Her


We all know someone whose life has been blighted by cancer. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one to the disease; maybe you’re a survivor. Cancer affects everyone in different ways. It can also make some people very uncomfortable. What do you say to someone who doesn’t see their future in terms of goals and plans, but odds?

Emily McDowell is a cancer survivor with some words of advice for those looking for the perfect words to say to a cancer patient. The 38-year-old was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma in her early twenties and got the all clear after nine month of gruelling chemotherapy and radiation. McDowell has created a range of ‘empathy cards’ that she wished she received from family and friends. Forget your flowery get well soon, McDowells creations are honest and genuinely heartfelt.

As McDowell wrote on her site:

“Most of us struggle to find the right words in the face of a friend or loved one’s major health crisis, whether it’s cancer, chronic illness, mental illness, or anything else. It’s a really tough problem; someone we love needs our support more than ever, but we don’t have the right language for it.

I created this collection of empathy cards for serious illness because I believe we need some better, more authentic ways to communicate about sickness and suffering. “Get well soon” cards don’t make sense when someone might not. Sympathy cards can make people feel like you think they’re already dead. A “fuck cancer” card is a nice sentiment, but when I had cancer, it never really made me feel better. And I never personally connected with jokes about being bald or getting a free boob job, which is what most “cancer cards” focus on.”

Here’s her collection of cards available to buy on her site.

Emily McDowell

Read Louise McSharry’s essay on battling cancer and coming to terms with losing her hair.

Follow Jeanne Sutton on Twitter @jeannedesutun

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