It’s hard to know how to behave around people with cancer. Do they want sympathy? Are they comfortable with jokes? Do they want you to pretend it’s not happening? Should you just leave them alone? There’s no easy answer, but cancer survivor Emily McDowell is here to help.
At 24, McDowell was diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. After enduring nine months of treatment, she got word that her cancer was finally in remission. It must have been a terrible, long ordeal, but what bothered her the most was the fact that family and friends drifted away because they didn’t know how to deal with her illness.
Now 38, her health has been restored, but she’s left with the memory of the isolation she felt. So she’s trying to remedy that for other cancer patients and their loved ones. She has designed a line of smart, honest “empathy cards” with messages she wishes she’d received from loved ones when she was sick.
It’s pretty incredible what cancer and other serious illnesses can bring out in people. I feel very lucky that I get to spend part of each day looking for the beautiful. It’s introduced me to some really remarkable things and remarkable people. I’ve bookmarked her shop. I hope never to need it, but if disaster strikes, at least I’ll have a way to let my friend know how I feel.