Cancer Survivor Designs Cards a Sick Person Would Actually Want to Receive

"Please let me be the first person to punch the next person who tells you everything happens for a reason."

Photo via Instagram | @emilymcdowell_

Photo via Instagram | @emilymcdowell_

Cancer, mental illness, debilitating chronic pain: These are all big beasts to confront, whether you’re fighting them yourself, or just know someone who is. And because they’re scary, people whose loved ones are struggling with these sicknesses often end up falling off the face of the planet and not saying a word or, on the other end of the spectrum, blabbering at lighting speed and saying all the wrong things. Read: “Everything happens for a reason,” and “This is just a part of your journey. You will get through this.” 

And this is exactly why Emily McDowell, a 38-year-old designer and cancer survivor, decided to create a series of empathy cards that said what she really wanted to hear when she sick herself. Cards that read “I’m really sorry I haven’t been in touch. I didn’t know what to say,” and “I’m so sorry you’re sick. I want you to know that I will never try to sell you on some random treatment I read about on the Internet.”

As McDowell explained to Slate, “The most difficult part of my illness wasn’t losing my hair or being erroneously called ‘sir’ by Starbucks baristas, or sickness from chemo, it was the loneliness and isolation I felt when many of my close friends and family members disappeared because they didn’t know what to say, or said the absolute wrong thing without realizing it.” Her hope is that this line of cards will help people who are sick feel the opposite. As she told Slate, “I want the recipients of these cards to feel seen, understood, and loved.”

And, unlike most empathy cards you find lining the Hallmark aisle, not a single one of her cards reads “Get well soon,” because as McDowell told Slate, “‘Get well soon’ cards don’t make sense when someone might not.” You can check out the full series of cards here.

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