Cancer Survivor Creates Empathy Cards For People With Serious Illnesses

Emily McDowell was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 24. After 9 months of chemo and radiation, she went into remission and, according to her blog, has been cancer-free ever since.

Having experienced a serious illness of her own and knowing the kinds things people say to try to show support, Emily decided to design “Empathy Cards” to give to people with a serious illness:

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.

As it turns out, Emily just-so-happens to run a successful greetings card business in Los Angeles, and she was able to work on card ideas and eventually start a collection of “Empathy Cards”. More from Emily:

“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.

With Empathy Cards, my goal is to help people connect with each other through truth and insight, which is one of the founding principles of this brand. I want the recipients of these cards to feel seen, understood, and loved.

Below are some of the cards from the collection.

267-c-illness-is-not-a-journey-empathy-card_1024x1024Emily McDowell
266-c-died-of-lemons-card_1024x1024Emily McDowell
270-c-i-didnt-know-what-to-say-card_1024x1024Emily McDowell
170-c-awkward-sympathy-card_1024x1024Emily McDowell
264-c-one-more-chemo-down-card_1024x1024Emily McDowell
265-c-treatment-on-the-internet-card_1024x1024Emily McDowell
269-c-fuck-cancer-doesnt-help-card_1024x1024Emily McDowell
268-c-friendship-through-cancer-empathy-card_1024x1024Emily McDowell
232-no-good-card-sympathy-card_1024x1024Emily McDowell
263-c-happens-for-a-reason-card_1024x1024Emily McDowell

To view even more Emily McDowell greeting cards, click here.