Get well cards don’t exactly work when the recipient of such a card might not actually get well. And when a friend, family member or loved one is diagnosed with cancer, it can be very difficult to know what to say that’s supportive, without being condescending or hurtful.
That’s where these empathy cards, as created by writer and illustrator Emily McDowell, come in. As a cancer survivor herself, McDowell is all too familiar with that struggle of what to say to someone with the disease. When she was 24-years old she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and thanks to nine months of chemo and radiation she’s been cancer-free ever since.
“The most difficult part of my illness wasn’t losing my hair, or being erroneously called ‘sir’ by Starbucks baristas, or sickness from chemo,” she says in a press release. “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.”
McDowell goes on to write that she feels society needs better, “more authentic” ways to communicate about illness and suffering.
“In our increasingly digital world, when it comes to someone in crisis, greeting cards have never been more relevant or appropriate,” she continues. “A card resonates in a way that email and text can’t. It’s a personal, simple, tangible way to be present for someone struggling with illness.”
So far there are eight cards in the collection, which is available at her online store. They’re currently going for $4.50 US each, plus taxes and shipping, with a discount of 25 per cent if you buy six or more.
Check them out, below. Even if you don’t buy one, they’ll definitely help you figure out what to say the next time you find out someone is battling cancer.