Empathy Cards For Serious Illness

Hi, friends.

Today we’re launching something new. They’re called Empathy Cards, and they’re designed to give to people with a serious illness. I’ve been working on the idea for these cards for a long time, and this project is really important to me.

Empathy Cards for serious illness: Treatment on the Internet

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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.

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.

One More Chemo Down Empathy Cards for Serious Illness

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As a cancer survivor, I have a very personal stake in this game. I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 24. After 9 months of chemo and radiation, I went into remission and have been incredibly fortunate to be cancer-free since.

I Didn't Know What To Say Empathy Cards For Serious Illness

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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.

In our increasingly digital world, when it comes to someone in crisis, greeting cards have never been more relevant or appropriate. 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.

As a result of my own experiences as a patient, friend, and caregiver, I’ve wanted to create this collection for a long time. I considered including these cards in the initial launch of my wholesale line two years ago, but I decided it would be more impactful to wait until we’d built a bigger platform and made a bit of a name with the brand. We’re launching this series with 8 cards, and we’ll be adding more with each new release.

I think Empathy Cards are the most important things I’ve designed so far, and they’re some of my personal favorites. It’s not often that you look at a greeting card and think, “The world needs this,” but in this case, I really believe that’s true.

Empathy Cards for Serious Illness

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If these resonate with you, I’d love your help in getting them out into the world. I’ve never asked you guys to share our stuff before, but I’m asking now, because I want to connect these with as many folks as possible who could use them.

As a small thank you, everyone who posts one of these cards on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter with the hashtags #empathycards and #emilymcdowell will be entered to win one of two $100 gift certificates to our online shop. You can use any of the images in this post or on my instagram feed (@emilymcdowell_), or grab images from the shop. Two winners will be announced on Monday, May 11th, a week from today.

Also! If you have a contact at an illness/research organization, in the media, a blogger, etc., who you think might be interested in featuring these or working with us, please email Sara, our head of marketing, at sara@emilymcdowell.com. We’re happy to donate cards, too — our main goal is just to get these in front of the people who need them. It’s hard to make a big difference with a greeting card, but I’m hoping these can make a small one.

Thank you so much for your help and your support. You guys are the best.


Died of Lemons Empathy Cards For Serious Illness

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Fuck Cancer Empathy Cards for Serious Illness

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Friendship through cancer empathy cards for serious illness

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illness is not a journey empathy cards for serious illness

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703 thoughts on “Empathy Cards For Serious Illness

  1. i am so glad these are out in the world! I shared your Instagram pictures of the first two cards with my neighbor who had a rare cancer (which is now in remission!) and she loved them. You are right these cards are truly something special! Thank you

      • Beautiful and funny. I feel like these work for the baby lost too. (Or anyone grieving from unexpected loss.)

          • I only had two early miscarriages and that was hard enough. I can imagine someone saying that things happen for a reason and asking acidly “And what do you think this reason might be? To see how much one person can cry?”.

            One person told me that it was God’s will and I told her that God could kiss my ass. I would also have really appreciated one of these cards.

        • Yes, these are SO AMAZING. I think you should expand the line to include infertility, miscarriage, and baby loss. The “Punch the Next Person Who Tells You Everything Happens for a Reason” one works perfectly! There is a Facebook page called Still Standing that deals with those issues if you decide you are interested and want to research. These need to be everywhere. Thank you.

          • I had a full term stillbirth 16 years ago and the FIRST thing I thought of was how amazing these would be for that time! Our culture has no helpful words at that time. These are powerful thoughts you have given people to share. LOVE!

          • Such wonderful cards! And in addition to cards for people who have lost a baby, how about for us aging (I’m 73) caregivers who take care of an aging and totally sick partner and are burned out and exhausted and sick and tired of being invisible to “helping” agencies and going through crap most people are unaware of until it happens to them.

            “Get counseling!”

            “Join a support group!”

            “Call the Agency on Aging!”

            “There’s help out there for you!”

            For *some* people there is help. For many of us it’s just jumping through hoops and if we’re lucky we may get a band-aid that doesn’t do much of anything.

            And I agree that the “Punch the next person who says that everything happens for a reason” is a good one. It fits just about all of these impossible situations.

            Thank you for your work.

          • I despise that Happens for a Reason crap! Nope, no way, never! There was no reason for my nephew to be born with fatal brain cancer. There is absolutely no reason my daughter’s first child stopped developing at 7 weeks gestation and her body didn’t let go of the baby without medical intervention one month later. There’s no reason for my West Nile survivor father to now battle multiple myeloma. I could go on!

        • I was just thinking the baby thing too. I think however there probably needs to be a more specific one or two for that. What a brilliant idea and something that I have often thought was needed. Well done you.

        • Totally! I would have appreciated something like this when my partner died.. I don’t know how many times I got the ‘everything happens for a reason’.

          Thanks Emily, these are just wonderful!

      • I had the exact same thought! Before I had my son I suffered four second trimester miscarriages and I got so tired of hearing about how things happen for a reason and how life was a journey. I would have really appreciated one of these cards 🙂

        • Yes! I came on here to say that. Infertility is something that is very lonely and people always know how to say exactly the wrong thing that makes you feel even worse. I wish I had response cards like this to hand out when those comments came.

    • I love these cards! They’re beautiful and made me laugh. You captured all the things that I’ve had people say to me–awesome job!

      • I received the “things happen for a reason” from a friend. We lost our daughter to cancer in May last year. loved the card. I just wish she was around so I could send her the “Life gives you Lemons” card. When she was fight to beat her cancer she would get so frustrated with the “friends and strangers” who would tell her about friends and relatives that had suffered from the same disease and DIED! So insensitive. Thanks for your great cards.

    • These cards are amazing. How can I order them as I have so many friends fighting cancer and I have spent hours searching for the right cards. I have been trying to find a card that in essence says, ” I have no words – other than I care SO much, I am So sad you have to experience this, and I am here for every second of every step. Your amazing cards do this.

      I am sorry you had to experience this tough illness.

  2. Love these, Emily! I’ve always admired your ability to speak the truth in your cards while making it lighthearted. You keep it real, and I appreciate that a lot. These cards are really incredible + I am happy to share them! I hope I never *have* to use one of these, but it’s nice to know cards like these exist that come from someone who gets it. Cheers!

  3. Hooray for you !! Thank you for being courageous enough to create and distribute these cards….My cancer has recently come out of remission and I am starting round two of my cancer crap. I greatly appreciate the honesty of these cards. — love them! Well done!

  4. I LOVE these. (also second that some of them are great for people who have suffered a loss, especially the loss of a child…) Are they available for retail purchase yet?

      • Love, love, love the “journey” card. At my first infusion, I wanted to slap the nurse who patted me on the arm and told me I was on a journey when I was trying to ask questions about the process. I’ve drafted my obituary and left instruction for whoever tweaks it not to use the word “journey”.

          • Great cards, Emily. I would have loved to receive one when I first got diagnosed with MS (not cancer, I know, but prognosis was poor back then). A well-meaning but not thinking colleague said how sorry she was as “after all, if you don’t have your health you don’t have anything”….
            Also great article on the Silk Ring Theory. I need to use this – my boss has stage 4 ovarian cancer and we struggle to hit the right note with her. Thanks for the link, Cynthia Wardle.

      • You might want to look up the definition of journey. It can be an apt description of dealing with cancer: “a long and often difficult process of personal change and development.’ (Oxford)

        • Thanks for your feedback, Bill. It can be an apt description, sure, but it isn’t always. As evidenced by my own experience and the comment above yours, there are many people for whom this concept doesn’t resonate. This card just provides an alternative.

        • I’m going to go with NO on that one, Bill. Yes, technically many cancer experiences could be defined that way. But if every Bachelor and Bachelorette gets to characterize his/her experience with trying to find love on TV as an incredible/profound/life-changing “journey,” I think cancer deserves a better word. Just speaking from my own experience with it.

        • Journey may be appropriate, but it is too soft a word for some occasions. As a widow who is finishing up her first year without her husband, his fight with mantle cell lymphoma wasn’t a journey – it was sheer hell. Not just for him, but for me and our two teenage children. He put up a brave and good fight. Journey was just not the right word for what we went through.

        • It’s not that it’s not a journey. (I’m a two time cancer survivor – Hodgkins also, and BC – and it absolutely was for me.) It’s that no one ELSE has the right to tell someone what it is or isn’t, what it should mean for ME. These cards are awesome. I laughed and cried, especially at that one about the lemons.

        • Bill, you might want to look up the definition of “shanghai” cause when I got cancer that’s what it seemed like to me, far from a journey, which I equate with something I would choose, rather than being kidnapped against my will.

      • Thanks! PS can you please consider making a Mother’s Day card for loss moms (and Father’s Day too)? I spent a very frustrating 15 minutes at the drugstore looking at cards for my friend because nobody makes a card for moms who have lost their little ones (at least I’ve never seen one). Or a “today would have been his X birthday” card. Sigh.

        • What a wonderful idea. My best friend has been motherless since the year before I met her, our freshman year in high school. Every mother’s day for her sucks. Her dad died 3 years ago, so Father’s Day isn’t that great either.

        • I second this Laura! Being a bereaved Mom and now working with other bereaved parents – and having just given a bereaved mother’s day event, I would love these cards!

        • I have to say I’m a bit of a bitch about mother’s day. I always joke (well, half joke) with my daughter that I will celebrate mother’s day by picketing the Hallmark Card store. Oooh, mother’s day is almost here, and I promised my daughter I’d behave myself and not trash the place this year.

          If society really cared about mothers, how about better childcare for working mothers, how about looking at the needs of single mothers? Women’s rights, grumble grumble….if society really cared about the lives of mothers……

          (But here’s a card neither my daughter and would want! Neither of us wants to be reminded. Please don’t bring it up for us! My daughter got pregnant, and she wasn’t married. She gave her baby up for adoption. What a horrible painful thing! When the lawyer and the social worker came to take Baby Brian away my daughter stayed in her hospital room and couldn’t bear to look. But I as the grandmother wanted to hold him just once, please, just once let me hold my baby grandson, let me say Goodbye to Baby Brian. And when they took Baby Brian away they took my heart along with him.

          It was awful. Took me a long time to deal with it. If I were in a department store and saw baby clothes I’d have to run out. And Care Bears…his adoptive parents sent baby clothes for him to the hospital, and his little onesie (isn’t that what they call those little baby things?) had a blue Care Bear on it. I still can’t see Care Bears after all these years – Baby Brian is now a grown man of 30.

          Writing this right now is bringing it up again. Thirty years now, and writing this has me crying after all these years. Do people who adopt babies ever wonder about the birth mother and grandmother? Here I am crying now.

          What card for this? The “Everything happens for a reason” card works here.

          And how about “It’s all part of God’s Great Plan.”? Don’t tell me that!! No damn platitudes here!!

          These cards are so needed, and thank you for coming up with this idea and making it happen!

          • Laurance, ten of my kids are adopted, and I am grateful to all of their mothers.

            Our twin girls were two days old when they were left on a street in South Korea. I can only imagine the grief and desperation of their mother who felt she had no choice. This was not abandonment–someone left them in a very public place so that they would be picked up. They have brought us joy since the day we got them—they were wonderful children and now they are wonderful women. I would have gladly shared pictures and visits with their birthmom–she deserved to know how well their lives turned out and how thankful we are for the choice she made.

  5. Thanks so much for creating these. I had a miscarriage a few weeks ago and hearing “everything happens for a reason” just made me want to cry. Miscarriage is such a lonely experience as it often happens before the world can tell that you are pregnant. A card from one of my close friends helped assuage some of that loneliness. Texts and emails can be re-read, phone calls replayed in your mind, but a card? It can be carried in your purse where you can pull it out and touch it and know that someone cares and is with you. Or it can be hung on your office/cubicle wall, taped to your bathroom mirror, stuck on your fridge with a magnet where you can see it and remember there are people who love you and will help you through this.

    • Amelia, I’m so sorry for your loss. I had ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages, and I so know how lonely it is. And you are a better person than me, because I wanted to strangle people who said “everything happens for a reason.” And I so agree that these cards would have helped me, for just the reasons you say.

  6. I have 2 clients/friends (mother and daughter, sadly) who are both going through cancer and I’ve struggled with the “appropriate” sentiments to share, especially since mama has such a great sense of humor. You want to be funny without being disrespectful, and this hits that nail right on the head! Thanks for creating these and sharing them! I hate that I have occasion to use them, but glad to have such great options now!

  7. I think these cards are amazing! I’m so happy I discovered you. You have the perfect message! My seven year old niece was diagnosed at 6 with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma and I’m in the midst of being diagnosed with some type of sarcoma. The punch you in the face card would be a perfect one for me to give my sister. I want to scream every time I hear someone say things happen for a reason, it’s a journey, and things like, you will get through this and come out a better person. Thank you for creating these!

  8. I just came across your blog today after seeing one of your empathy cards Brene Brown shared on her Instagram account! 🙂 I love them so much. I love your writing and honesty, and desire to connect with people on universal human emotions. It’s so crazy how we can all go through such different circumstances, come from various cultures and backgrounds, but can connect on so many levels of joy, fears, sorrows, etc. Thanks for also being so generous with sharing your tips and steps for growing a small biz and doing what you love!


  9. Finally! Someone understands! I love these, especially the last one. My sister and I have both had breast cancer, and believe me, neither of us ever felt as though we were on a “journey!”

  10. As a 20 year breast cancer survivor, these cards are much needed and spot-on! People say the craziest stuff to you!

  11. As someone who’s gone through six shoulder surgeries, I really appreciate these cards. It’s hard for people to understand that sometimes it’s just not going to get better. They want you to get better, but you know that’s not going to happen. It’s hard for people to understand that “this” might be as good as it gets. Thank you for making such wonderful, witty and honest cards. This is the kind of card that I would really like to receive.

    • Great comment, Megan! I know a lot of people have commented about the appropriateness of these cards for people going through cancer, and given that my mother battled breast cancer for 14 years before succumbing at the age of 56, I agree. However, it’s also really good to see messages that are appropriate for non-terminal but still serious and life-changing illnesses and injuries. Yours is a good example. I suffer from Fibromyalgia and really battled in the past with the fact that people didn’t consider my life-changing, lifelong condition to be comparable to other friends, family members, colleagues’ better known illnesses. I remember one instance where a colleague was sent a card and flowers when he was off work for two weeks with a bad back, whereas my condition didn’t warrant the same when I needed to take leave of over a year at one point due to crushing pain and fatigue. The comments that bug me (and other members of my support group) the most are the ones related to miracle cures or the miracle recovery of someone else and the people (sadly including my own father, who say ignorant of the condition: “You need to get up and do some exercise and stop moping around, and you’ll be fine!”. If only… Have also had several friends go through pregnancy loss and I agree 100% that some of these messages would be brilliant in light of the many well-meant but offensive platitudes that get bandied about. One friend suffered a miscarriage at 15 weeks, and a lady at work made two appalling comments: 1. “Oh well, it’s not like it was planned, at least”. 2. “It’s probably for the best, the baby was probably deformed”. My friend was devastated. Unbelievable what people think is appropriate.
      Anyway, thanks for the great cards, will definitely be buying some!

    • Thank you Karen! We aren’t doing official boxes of these (yet — we may in the future), but we have a deal on our site where if you buy 6 or more cards, you get 25% off all of them, so a lot of people end up buying several that way. Then it’s easier for us to track inventory (mixed boxes are awful for this) and everyone can get exactly what they want.

  12. These cards are fabulous! I’m a fellow lymphoma alumna–I identify so much! All the lines about cancer being a journey, or even a #$%^^& GIFT, blah blah, it’s just insufferable. It’s great to have these cards to help people get real and supportive instead of making it about their own fears . . .

    I personally got some gratification out of saying “cancer sucks.” If this is a gift, can I take it back to the store?

  13. Hey from Portland, Emily! I shared these on FB and they’re being shared by friends. Passing on the love!

    • Hi William! We aren’t doing official sets of these, but we have a deal on emilymcdowell.com where if you buy 6 or more cards (you can mix the styles), you get 25% off all of them, so a lot of people end up buying several that way. Then it’s easier for everyone to get the exact mix of cards they want. Thank you!

      • Oh the infertility cards would be so awesome. As the mother of an IVF daughter, I’d particularly like:
        * I promise to punch the next person who tells you to just relax and forget about it/go on vacation/adopt
        * I don’t know anyone, or have a friend of my next door neighbors cousin who gave up and then miraculously got pregnant 3 months later
        * I’m happy to help with any of the several hundred injections
        * Here as a shoulder to cry on
        * Anytime you want to avoid going grocery shopping or going to Target so you don’t have to walk past the baby aisles, I’ll go shopping for you
        * I share your irritation at all the lousy parents who don’t know how lucky they are to have those kids they’re treating so badly
        * I’m not offering you one of mine if you want

  14. These are so great. I’d love to see even more that are open ended (not cancer specific). The “everything happens for a reason” one really resonates with me and my delightful “journey/adventure” with infertility. Though with this particular disorder we tend to get the “my friend made the most amazing iced lemon bunt cake and then when she wasn’t expecting it twenty lemon muffins popped out of her oven” rather than “died from lemons”…

  15. These are not just for cancer either. My mom recently died of multi organ failure. These cards would have been awesome for her, and actually would be great for me or my brother rather than a traditional sympathy card. Love them!!

    • Wonderful cards. I agree that there is a need for similarly “empathetic” cards to send when a loved one has died from non-cancer causes, especially when the deceased suffer from a long and debilitating illness, was extremely elderly, had irreversible brain damage, etc. There must be something better to say than “At least he/she is no longer suffering” or “It’s a blessing that his/her ordeal is over now.” I have confidence that you will create cards with messages of comfort.

  16. I own a small herbal apothecary in Columbus Ohio. Would you be willing to sell batch of these wholesale, so folks can get them locally here? They are fabulous!

    • Absolutely! We have a very active wholesale program, and these are being launched to the trade in two weeks at the National Stationery Show in NYC. If you go to emilymcdowell.com/wholesale, you’ll find a short application form to become a stockist. Thanks Lily!

  17. These are awesome. My 3 year old son is 2 years w/o recurrence of his brain tumor. A friend is finishing her 5th of 6 planned chemo sessions (curative, we expect) for breast cancer, and another friend has done chemo, radiation and surgery for her metastatic cancer and is in hospice now. I don’t do Instagram, Twitter or pintrest, but I’ll share it on Facebook.

  18. I made a ‘cheer up’ bracelet (her favorite color and using beads that have personal meaning for her) for a friend going through chemo. It was so hard to find a card. “Get well soon” didn’t work, she’s going to be sick for months. “Sympathies” wasn’t right either, she’s sick, not dead. I finally found a blank card with a pretty picture. I think she would have loved getting one of these (she’s been cancer free for a year now!).

  19. Absolutely brilliant. I especially love the one with “everything happens for a reason”-NOT. One of my best friends has chronic illnesses and was recently widowed, and I can’t tell you how often she said this exact thing.

  20. Wow, thank you, they are amazing. I never comment on anything online but these really moved me and they will truly make a better world.

  21. I love them too. I have spent countless hours looking through card stores for cards that don’t say “get well soon!” In some situations those are NOT appropriate. And I agree, some of them work for loss as well. Thanks for creating these!

  22. Your cancer cards are terrific – I went through the whole shebang of cancer treatment last year and would have loved to have received any of the cards. ..it would be good to have card that acknowledges (but does not celebrate) the end of treatment. Everyone wanted to celebrate and I was still trying to figure out what had happened to me.

  23. I am six months away from my daughter going OT for ALL and this post and these cards made my day. Made it. They are everything I wish people had said to me and everything I wanted to tell my friends whose kiddos were just getting diagnosed. Thank you.

  24. LMAO….as 9 year survivor breast cancer survivor I would have rather had one of these cards than some crappy sympathy card. These are the best! Just shared with my ladies from support group!

  25. Trying to get my employer to pick it up as a story, or at least to share it with our social crowd. Empathy Cards are world-changing. Sending love.

  26. Check this out! I just shared these with Dr. Susan Love – internationally known breast cancer specialist, head of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, and cancer survivor – and she shared them on her facebook page!! I do not have first hand experience with something as serious as cancer, but as someone with a chronic and painful condition (ankylosing spondylitis) you had my attention in a huge way with the first card you listed, and I just thought all of them rocked.


  27. It is a year since my best friend died of a rare cancer. I remember that her favorite tee shirt said, “I pooped today”.

    We both cringed over all of the cards and Caring Bridge posts that said what an inspiration she was. Her take on it — “I am not a hero. I am just a woman with no other options”

    Thanks for the smiles.

  28. When my daughter was suffering through an injury and subsequent nerve condition, the best thing that someone said to me was “I just don’t know what to say.” No platitudes. No false cheer or false hope. Just a straightforward statement, which I appreciated so much. These cards are great! So honest and real. They will serve many people well. Thank you. #butyoudon’tlooksick

  29. These are amazing and important. Thank you for lending an insightful voice when our own voices fail to find the right words.

  30. Love these! As the mother of a 26-year-old who just lost his 4-year battle with brain cancer, I especially like the one about punching the person who says “everything happens for a reason.” I have yet to understand what “reason” there could be for my son to have died. Cancer sucks and your cards tell it like it is. Thanks.

    • I agree, Leslie. My 23 year old son died of Lymphoma and we heard all kinds of shit from people. I have to say the card that made me laugh the hardest and the one I think my son would have loved the most is the one about the cousin who “died of lemons”. But really, they are all so great. And so needed.

      There is no reason for your son to have died. Cancer sucks. Take care of yourself, my dear, take care of yourself.

  31. I love these!!! How do I order some?
    I am a cancer survivor and have lost so many to cancer,
    including young people.
    I have 3 friends going through very serious stage 4
    cancers right now and would love to send them a card or two like
    Thanks for having the courage to create something so

  32. Yes. Truth is so much better than bullshit and sentimentality. Thank you. Those of us who make it through are forever changed; it’s good to see the reality expressed.

  33. OMG! These are soooo wonderful! You have hit it out of the park, Emily! I’m a Stage 4 rare and weird gynecologic cancer. I do have a blog and I’ll definitely give you a shout-out. I’ll let my doctor’s office know for their newsletter, as well as an organization called Nine Girls Ask?for a cure for ovarian cancer. They have a pretty long outreach arm. I’m also a psychotherapist and can see their applicability in so many domains. Brilliant!!!

  34. I love these more than I can muster into words. I am totally going to feature these on my website. My website may be about horror films, but I was extremely candid about my own battle. Pancreatic Cancer at 23. Now, three weeks shy of 25, I have to be checked out for thyroid cancer thanks to the radiation treatments. Gross.

    These are wonderful and I am so glad someone finally made something like this.

  35. Thank you so much! My son has a lovely combination of Meniere’s syndrome and cluster migraines, and he really appreciated several of these.

  36. I second everything that’s been said about how great these cards are. They are such a refreshing change from standard “get well” cards. I would love to know more about where they will be available for purchase. (I’m in Pittsburgh, PA.)

  37. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I know this will sound strange but just reading through your cards made me feel better. That someone gets it! Did I say thank you so much? I was wondering if you could possibly add another card to this fabulous line. I know it’s a great deal to ask but it would be wonderful to have a card like these directed to the care giver of someone seriously ill. You know the person who fills out the forms while you are puking then cleans up the puke? That person needs a card too!

  38. Emily! These are amazing — thank YOU for doing this! Twelve years ago I kicked cancer’s ass (non-hodgkin’s lymphoma) & would have loved loved loved to have received any one of these cards. I especially love the lemons one 😉 I’d love to help you get the word out and buy them as a pack of empathy cards to have on hand. How can I do that?

  39. Pingback: Emily McDowell Cards | Bigfoot Child Have Diabetes

  40. These are perfect. I was first diagnosed with a serious illness in June 2012, but held off telling anyone but a *very* few *very* close friends and relatives for over six months (until I was about to start treatment), precisely because I didn’t want the kind of responses that these cards satirize.

  41. i love these! My mom has metastic lung cancer, I often find myself saying some of this to myself. Thank you for another way to expression concern.

  42. Emily, I LOVE you for making these. You GET IT! I have a rare incurable disease and my husband has been through kidney cancer. I can relate on so many levels. I was also a crisis line worker for 8+ years so I love that you are calling them empathy cards. I love that you’ve taken something that really needed a voice and made it available. Someone is going to get one of those cards and feel deeply seen and understood and YOU will have done that. I have some ideas for shirts that I would love to make (along the same lines) and so I am going to take a screen printing class this summer just so I can make the shirts and get them into the hands of women who deserve to wear them. I am going to add your blog to my feedly so I can keep up with you. You are made of *AWESOME*!!

  43. As someone diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago who has just finished treatments, I have to echo what you already know: these cards are awesome! I can’t wait to share these with friends. Here’s another one for you…” I promise not to tell you how brave/strong/inspiring you are. I realize you are just trying to make it through the day.”

    • Thank you Lynda! That’s a great one too — I also hated being told I was brave. I didn’t have a choice! I was just putting one foot in front of the other. I just replied to another comment in the same vein upthread, and said I think brave is running into a burning building to save people you don’t know. Congrats on finishing your treatment. 🙂

  44. Just posted 7 cards to Pinterest. Yep. “Happens for a reason.” “Your journey.” “My cousin’s friend died.” Those are all beauts. They are so true for everyone who has had lethal health issues.

  45. These are great! I wish I thought of it! I especially like the I didn’t know what to say card. So many people expressed that after seeing me after I recovered. I find myself in that position sometimes, too. It’s perfect.

  46. I love all of these. Every last one. I’m a triple-negative cancer survivor of 6 years. There isn’t a card in the bunch that wouldn’t have made me laugh, smile and re-read. Going to the “Shop” page right now…

  47. Great idea. My son has Leukemia and he is so tired of hearing “stay strong”. If I had seen these in the early days of his treatment would have bought them and given him one everytime he had chemo. He still has 12 more months so if I find them maybe I will!

  48. I am facing probably terminal cancer – I’d love to get some of these cards.
    My wonderful elder daughter knows exactly the sort of thing that gets my goat, and so pointed out these cards as an antidote.
    Excellent. I’ve posted them all over my FB timeline!

  49. As a survivor of a rare cancer, I’ve heard almost all the counterparts of these cards (except I didn’t lose my hair – that’s not a common side effect with the chemo I had, which prompted someone to tell me that obviously the chemo wasn’t working!)

    Another thought: “I won’t tell you I know you’ll be all right; nobody ever does. But I will tell you I’ll be beside you through thick and thin.”

    I hated the people assuring me they knew I’d be fine, that my scans would be normal (and then being afraid to call me if they hadn’t heard from me in case I was dead!) They didn’t like my response “If my drs were certain I’d be fine, I wouldn’t be having all these tests to see if it was coming back.”

    Sharing in my Rare Cancers group.

  50. Emily – these are a breath of fresh air. I’m the head of marketing for a small hospital in northern Michigan and would love to talk to our gift shop about carrying these cards. Can you send me some info? You are an inspiration!

  51. These are works of pure heart and beauty. I got the “Lemons” sentiment shoved down my throat by everyone who needed to contextualize my medical condition with their autobiography, so that card made me howl. I love the genuine affection these cards get across. Thank you.

  52. Great idea! I recently went looking for a card for a man diagnosed with advanced cancer. Really hard to find something that was appropriate. Well done.

  53. I love these. I am the mother of a child with a chronic illness. I teach writing workshops for parents of kids with chronic illness and also for teens who live with a chronic health issue. These are so right on.

  54. The “let me punch the person who says everything happens for a reason” one is my personal favorite. Congrats! Great work!

  55. The current illness in my life is Type 1 diabetes, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the lemon one. So many times people have told me about their diabetic grandpa’s foot amputation or stroke. Just knowing these cards exist is a huge relief!

  56. These are so right-on! I shared this link with my relapsed/refractory Hodgkin’s lymphoma Facebook group!

  57. How about one on “he looks good.” Meaning he looks good considering he has life-threatening cancer. No, he doesn’t look good as he’s still sick and he is still in chemo and he could die soon, so how he looks doesn’t matter. And another – he’s so brave, courageous. No, he’s not. He’s trying to stay alive. He has no choice. Check out Stuart Scott’s (ESPN) autobiography released last month (he died in January). Lots of good sayings along these lines that can become cards. Also the book I’m not Lance. Just a regular Joe in chemo who wants to do the normal things he did before cancer: if you had coffee with me before I got cancer, then keep having coffee with me.

  58. I would love to buy some of these. 2 weeks after my daughter was diagnosed with cancer, my brother found out he had cancer. I sent him a card every week, but pickings were slim. These would have been perfect. Where can I purchase them?

    • Thanks Kellie! Right now you can buy them in our online shop at emilymcdowell.com. They’ll begin to show up in stores at the end of this month; our products are carried in about 1,500 shops (you can see the current store list on our Retailers page), and these will be available for store buyers to order in two weeks as part of our Spring wholesale catalog.

  59. Love, love, love these! My husband is recovering from a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) which is a long and slow process. Would love to see more ‘general’ cards in this line (not specific to cancer, for example) and as someone else stated, more for the caregivers of the long term ill.

  60. these are amazing. Totally sharing. Was told by a friend who was in his last stages of life with cancer “I wish people would stop telling me to keep fighting. If I thought that anything I could do would reverse, this, I would do it. There is nothing I can do and people don’t get it. I’d stand on my head all day if it worked”.

    – sending my friend Will one of these in heaven tonight! Love you

  61. As someone with 4 chronic autoimmune diseases, who can barely move. Ive always wanted to just hear. That sucks, Im here if you want to make fun of bad twitter feeds. My best friend linked me over to you and I will totally share your cards around. Contest or not, what you are doing is important and there are so many people they can touch. Sparkle thoughts to you love

  62. These are wonderful! I work in hospice and know some of my families would much rather have these than the platitude-filled cards they sometimes get. Or worse yet, the “Get Well Soon” ones. Thank you so much for making these!

  63. These are lovely cards. They radiate love and compassion and truth and honesty. I’m not clear where you sell them.

    • Thank you Diane! We sell them in our online shop at emilymcdowell.com right now, and they’ll be launching to store buyers in two weeks. My line is also carried in about 1,500 boutiques, so those buyers will have the opportunity to add them to their shops when our Spring wholesale catalog is released later this month.

  64. Emily, my life is such a SH**t show you cannot not even imagine. actually, you totally can. these are SO good! I will be ordering them all. to frame. in my house.

  65. YES! *Thank* you!! Oh goodness, everyone thinks they know how to cure you, or how if you just have a positive attitude the autoimmune will melt away, or–one woman was describing this lovely getaway where they pamper you and understand about your health condition and it hit me that she was taking about being in lockdown in an asylum. Seriously. Uh, thank you, no need.

  66. I live with an incurable mystery disease. My least favorite greeting goes something like “I just don’t know how you do it! I could never put up with 1/10th of what you suffer!”

    My own son once told me “I can’t be around you, because I can’t stand the pain.”

    And then there is the “Oh. My cousin had that. He died.”

    I am not my disease. I don’t need to have someone keep my disease company, I am the one who needs the human interaction! Let’s talk about something other than what is wrong with me, shall we?

  67. I’ve always hated people telling me how brave I am. It feels like code for ‘don’t cry because I can’t handle it if you cry.’

    • UGH ME TOO. Also I always felt like, it’s not brave when you don’t have a choice. It’s just life. Brave is, like, running into a burning building to save people you don’t know.

  68. I kind of want a case of the one about punching the next person who says everything happens for a reason… So many uses. These are fantastic.

  69. How about a line that includes miscarriage/infertility?!
    I’ll punch the next person who says “at least you know you can get pregnant”, “relax and it’ll happen”, have some maitais in Hawaii, worked for my cousin”

    I really like the one that says “sorry I haven’t been in touch, I didn’t know what to say” works for so many things.

  70. Oh, these are amazing. A very very close friend of mine who lives a few hours away
    went through months of chemo last year, and I mailed her a card every single week. There were usually blank, or just funny, but a few of these interspersed would have been wonderful.

  71. Absolutely Brilliant! There is a need for these cards, I really hope they are a smash, I already emailed them to those I thought could use them.

  72. Perfect. My husband has had three bouts of cancer in 10 years…he is now 48 with stage four. I LOVE these cards and it made me tear up just reading them…you truly understand. Thank you.

  73. I can’t describe how much I appreciate these cards. I am going to keep these in stock in our house. If you’re looking for ideas, I would love to see some for guys and for caregivers, only because that hits home for us (my husband went through cancer). But I do love ALL of these so very much and shared them on Facebook as that’s the only social media I have 🙂

  74. Yes! Yes! Yes! I had brains surgery four years ago. The amount of cards that were downright insulting (they didn’t mean it) poured in. I couldn’t believe how thoughtless get well cards could be. These rock my socks off. <3

  75. These are great! I also think miscarriage and infertility cards are a good idea.

    My least favourite thing that people say is about how strong I am because I’ve lost a parent. Or, “I wouldn’t be able to handle that”. There’s also that horrible thing about god never giving us more than we can handle. Ugh.

    Thanks for making these!

  76. I’m mom to a 5yr old cancer survivor and LOVE these- wish they were around when we were going thru treatment. Your sense of humor is spot on and much needed!

  77. These are awesome and perfect. Thank you so much. I’d like to add another inspiration to your card list – something to the effect of – “Let me be the one to deliver the first throat punch to the person who refers to your scars as your “roadmap.”

    It’s a little like the journey card – and a statement said to me by a former oncologist. What a douche.



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  79. These are awesome! The most comforting thing anyone ever said to me when my mom died was “I’m really sorry. That sucks.” And the worst thing was when I miscarried and a nurse told me, “Your baby is with god now.” Speaking of deities, what about a card that takes on the “God/dess, the Universe, etc. doesn’t give you anything that you can’t handle” garbage? I always want to rip the faces off of people who say that.

  80. As a survivor myself and friend/relative of so many who have dealt with this crappy disease, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these! Thank you!

  81. Thank you for getting it! I am a tongue cancer patient getting ready to start radiation after two difficult surgeries. I’m not brave, I’m not strong, I am just a mama who wants to make sure I am around to watch my littles grow up. This is just an incredibly painful, awful hiccup along the way, but if I don’t stop to laugh on this roller coaster, I might not make it! I would love to feature your cards on my new blog…as soon as I figure out how (I am a newbie in the blogging world!). Keep on keeping on…you are giving lots of us out here a reason to smile!

  82. I lost my brother to cancer as a child. I’ve also lost aunts, an uncle, and a cousin to cancer. My mom is a three-time cancer and two of my cousins are breast cancer survivors. Growing up surrounded by so much sickness and loss was very lonely. People never knew what to say so they didn’t say anything at all or they would say cheesy things. Its really refreshing to read these cards. They are honest, heartfelt, and have a sense of humor. Well done!

  83. I wouldn’t have understood how perfect and necessary these cards are before I had to go through chemo and radiation myself. People get so twisted up with sadness and confusion over what to say that some can’t even look you in the eye anymore and avoid seeing you, which feells terrible because you really need the connection and to be treated like yourself, instead of as just a diagnosis. These cards will be a wonderful tool for keeping people connected and helping them laugh during a time in their life that’s truly awful. Thank you so much!

  84. These are perfect. I have a friend who lost a baby a few years ago, and I’ve wished I could make cards to describe some of these “this sucks” moments. Thank you.

  85. Absolutely love these – especially the journey and lemons one. (The one thing I REALLY DO NOT NEED when heading into chemo is horror stories of someone’s uncle’s neighbour’s friend who was vomiting every 5 minutes).

    If you’re looking for further inspiration, I feel like “This is shit – be as negative/realistic as you feel necessary” and “I promise not to ask if this has made you think about getting to know (my version of) Jesus” would be cards I would welcome if next week’s scan results are bad.

  86. I have said for decades…”You don’t have to know the right thing to say. You just have to be there.” Lost my mom to cancer 30 years ago next month and two babies before the two I got to keep. People do the best they can, but we are not taught how to deal with death. Until you experience it, you are at a loss. Those people would probably think these cards insensitive or even rude. Not a club I’d want anyone to join, but when you get it, you get it. Thanks for some reality in a world of well-meaning phonyness.

  87. Omg these are so awesome. I posted on both Facebook AND Pinterest about it, because the world has so needed these to exist. Thank you for mixing the right amount of humor and straight talk ^.^

  88. These are great! Another thought: Not sure about how I feel about being told I look great when you and I both know I don’t look great. I look really awful. Not sure how you would put a slant on this one. Thanks for the great selection you have put out there. Really appreciate the one about the relative who died of lemons. Happens ALL the time. There are times when I am not sensitive about it (getting used to it) but for the newly diagnosed, it can hit hard. THANKS FOR YOUR TIME AND EFFORT DOING THIS.

  89. Emily, these are so beautiful and so meaningful to people who are struggling with serious illness or injury. I’ve seen friends experience miscarriages, the deaths of loved ones, and serious illnesses, and seen them be as impacted by the silence of others as they were by the illnesses or injuries themselves. As an assault survivor, I have to say that the “I’m so sorry I haven’t been in touch. I didn’t know what to say” was especially meaningful to see, because so often I had wished for someone to just reach out while I was healing (and dealing with the resultant PTSD). These cards will change so many lives for folks who are already dealing with so much. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  90. I LOVE your new cards and can’t wait to snag them! Somehow I had never seen your designs until this morning on Instagram. This afternoon I randomly walked into a shop in Minnesota, saw them, and had to buy some. Upon checking out and mentioning “discovering” you this morning and the luck of happening upon them this afternoon, the woman I was purchasing them from told me that she is your sister… Random– check! Serendipity– check! Feeling slightly like a stalker– check! Regardless, I’m so happy I found your work!

  91. I’m so, so impressed with these! You could do loads and loads for other diseases too! I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Autism and it’s so hard to move for inappropriate offers of ‘cures’ when both are life long and EDS is expected to get worse as I age. Maybe one that says “I’m so proud you have come to terms with your lifelong condition, I promise I will help you explain to the world that you are not interested in cures, just positive ways to live happier and easier.” Or similar?!

  92. Wow, these are GREAT!!! How about adding one about the people who tell you that you’re not ‘thinking positively’ if you are facing into terminal cancer and ACCEPTING that you’re going to die?I finally took on my neighbor about that one. I understand that she can’t deal with the fact that my cancer is terminal but…… I CAN. NOT being in denial is NOT being ‘negative’. . I have a rare cancer, stage IV, and am just about to start chemo. Chemo will not save me but my oncologist is a GEM and my overstressed midlife daughter who now has ME to take care of on top of her full-time job and three kids is a real trooper. What saves us completely is that when the stress is overwhelming and we start chewing on each other, we inevitably fall into hilarity as the stress becomes so extreme that it hits the wall. That’s when we start making up things we’d rather be doing—- how about a card FROM the ill one that comments, ‘ Chemo? I’d rather be a professional beachcomber!!’

  93. f*cking brilliant! After going through cancer treatments 4 years ago… I can easily recall a time where each of these cards would have been WELL received by me.

  94. “Everything happens for a reason” – my answer was always “Yes, it does… And that reason is ‘Life is random, capricious, and sometimes very cruel’.”
    Watching the faces of the people trying to explain exactly how spinal tumors have a life-affirming purpose was meanly fun, I admit!

  95. I’m getting ready for my next round of chemo. I love these cards. You really have captured our “journey”. :-). When people tell me I am on a journey, I say, yeah an f-ed up one. I’m scared, pissed off, sad and determined to beat it all at once. I wish there were cards for my family too (husband, teenage daughter) as they could use some levity. Thank you Emily for “getting it”. You are making a wonderful difference ❤️

  96. These cards are wonderfully empathetic and sweet and funny and fierce. I work with a chaplains department in a large hospital, and will share these with the staff. I wonder if you would consider making incarceration cards as well — the cards that exist make inappropriate jokes, and miss the opportunity your cards give to offer compassion, humor, and frank understanding to someone who is suffering.

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  98. Emily, these are the best cards I have seen in a long time! This line fills a much needed void in the card industry. Thank you for your wisdom and creativity! I will be buying some.

  99. I wish someone had sent me the “everything happens for a reason card when I was sixteen. These are all wonderful, but what is special about some of them, like that one, is that they work for loved ones who are going through this as well. My sister suffered a traumatic brain injury when I was 16 & wasn’t really capable of processing things people said to her, & definitely doesn’t remember them now. But I clearly remember that urge to punch someone telling me that “it all happened for a reason.” Thank you for making these. The only thing wrong with them is that there should be more of them!

  100. These are absolutely perfect, and a wonderful antidote to a lot of the platitudes out there. My mum died of cancer and I suffered a late miscarriage shortly afterwards; I wasn’t really up for ‘learning to dance in the rain’ or to believe that ‘it has happened to you because you needed to grow as a person’. If I’d been able to give Mum any of these cards I know she would have laughed like a drain – the kind of breathlessness we both liked to hear! Congratulations on such a brilliant idea.

  101. I love these empathy cards for serious illness! I am a stage 4 lung cancer survivor and these are so spot on! Thank you, thank you!

  102. Bloody love these! A friend tweeted me with them so there will be lots of sharing going on. If we can mutually help each other in any way please feel free to contact me as always have s lot of ideas!! x

  103. I love the “One more chemo down” one. At one point my daughter (now completely cured of Hodgkin’s lymphoma) could only eat buttered toast and mango. Put her off mango forever, though.

  104. You ROCK! These are totally fabulous! I am Vice Chair of a Charity who champions the patient voice in the design and delivery of health and social care within the NHS and I have worked and interviewed 100’s of patients with long-term conditions. One of the things my patients tell me is that those around them don’t know how to react and that ‘get well soon’ cards are just not applicable when you have something that is not curable! Yup, these are awesome! C x

  105. After two years of barfing into a bag, I knew who my real friends were. You, my dear, would have been one. Your cards made me cry. Definitely sharing this with the world.

  106. Emily, Nicely done. My mother and her best friend both died of cancer, but both supported each other through their illnesses. Her best friend, Roseanne, was the author of the attached book with the same motivation as your cards (but not as funny!)


  107. If you’re taking suggestions . . .
    “I’m so sorry that Monsanto’s poison in the food supply chain has caused yet ANOTHER cancer. I’ll bomb their headquarters next week in your honor.” –

    Shared your cards on FB.

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  109. What a fantastic idea! I suffer from a genetic condition with lots of complications and it’s not going to get bette. I eespecially hate the “everything happens for a reason” sentimen. Luckily, my illness is pretty widely known among people who know me so at least they’re not trying to cure me via everything online. That said, if you open the door for submissions to your product line, I would love to contribute. Because I think there is a huge need in the mark for these whether Hallmark realizes it or not.

  110. Australian Breast Cancer survivor, literally weeks from my 5 year Cancer free anniversary. I LOVE these. My pet peeve was those who told me “God only gives these trials to those He knows can handle them”.

    I’m very honest when people tell me how brave I am, and respond with “you should have been there when I sat in my front yard and howled with pain and grief”. The legacy of my Cancer is anxiety and depression. There are so many people in my life who don’t understand what I have to be depressed about, when my Cancer is “cured”.

    Thank you for these cards. There are several that I would have loved back then, and even some I would love today. If you don’t have an Australian stockist, I hope one day soon you will.

  111. Dear Emily,

    I am amazed by this project. As a designer, as a researcher on empathy and as a human being who has seen someone close suffering and dying of cancer, I feel amazed by your clarity to express what a person going through a serious illness needs to heard from a friend or loved one. This clarity reflects your understanding and your emotional connection with this issue, and makes a powerful—and empathic—statement in a world full of “get well” cards that are completely disconnected of their recipients’ realities.

    Thank you for doing this amazing work in terms of content and visuals. I’ll certainly share these cards within my friends and family.


    Andres Tellez

  112. Hi Emily, I wish I could send these cards to my dearest friend, who passed away because of leukaemia. Thanks for creating these cards. You did a wonderful job!!!!!

  113. These are wonderful, I completely identify with the sentiment. I haven’t read all the comments above, but as a kidney transplant recipient who’s dealt with dialysis and long term renal failure, I’d be really pleased if you could extend the sentiment and provide good cards for people in that situation too.

    The “I didn’t know what to say” card is perfect.

  114. Awesome, awesome, awesome!
    As someone who has lived with chronic pain in the past, and still lives with mental health issues, and knows many people with chronic illnesses and who have battled/are licing with cancer, and HATES all the cliches, and new-age fantasy fixes, and “positive thinking” stuff, I LOVE these cards.
    Thank you!

  115. I’ve shared these on my LJ and Tumblr. I’ve been through breast cancer and the sentiments you express are perfect. Empathy, that word says it all.

  116. I know these are meant for serious illness, but I just lost my dad and many of them apply to loss too. People just don’t know what to say or how to deal with a grieving person. Many people said the wrong thing, most people just disappeared. I love these cards. Thank you for this meaningful contribution to the world Emily!

  117. F A B – U – L O U S !

    Now add some for sympathy. My friend’s husband just died, and the things people say to her!!!

  118. I worked in the greetings card industry for 11 years, and cannot tell you how often we had customers struggling to find just such cards. These are terrific.

  119. Beautiful, honest, comforting cards! This is really filling a void! Wish I could have shared some of these with my mom when she was sick. She would have loved them!

  120. I love these! Some of theses can be applied to traumatic brain injury. Or brain fog as I like to call it.

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  122. What fantastic cards! I will be sending some both to friends who are currently battling breast cancer as well as a very young cousin who is in autoimmune liver failure. Thank you for giving words to what I wanted to say but didn’t know if it was okay or appropriate.

    As the mother of a child with severe congenital heart defects which required 3 heart surgeries before he turned 6 months old, so many of these resonate with what I was feeling. It would be so fantastic if in your expansion you would create some cards for children (& adults) with CHDs and their caregivers. CHDs affect 1 out of every 110 children, and tragically, kill more children than all childhood cancers combined. I would think that Mended Little Hearts (http://mendedlittlehearts.org/), The Children’s Heart Foundation (http://www.childrensheartfoundation.org/), The Adult Congenital Heart Association (http://www.achaheart.org/) might be good organization with which to partner.

    Thank you again for creating these fantastic cards!

  123. Emily, my daughter sent me this link, and I’m happy to share it everywhere I can think of. My sister is receiving hospice care now, and I truly appreciate what you’ve done here.
    She tires easily, but so far is too polite to tell her visitors to leave. I was thinking she needs a little sign that says “STFU” on one side, and “Thanks for coming, but I’m tired now” on the other. You’re welcome. Really, these are great.

  124. My only criticism of these cards is that they heavily reflect the struggle of cancer patients, and not necessarily all chronic, serious illnesses.

    • Thanks for your feedback! Cancer was my own personal experience, so it seemed like a good place to start. We will be adding new designs to this collection with each new product release (twice a year) and will definitely be adding more options for different situations in the future.

  125. Yep. Sometimes you just have to acknowledge that being seriously ill is seriously bad. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to punch someone for (optimistically, lovingly, wrong-headedly) assuring me that my mother with Stage 4 brain cancer would be OK. I suggest adding a card about “battling” cancer. Ugh.

    These are great cards.

  126. Wow. You are bad-ass. These cards are sorely needed. My husband has ALS, and has been the recipient of most of the comments you cited. Somehow, being told it’s “part of God’s plan” for you to have a terrible progressive terminal illness just doesn’t feel comforting, and I’m sure he’d love to punch people if he could still use his arms. There’s a lot of talk about being a “fighter” or better yet a “warrior” in the “battle against ALS.” His battle is being able to breathe or scratch where it itches. He needs people to come over and watch rugby games, refresh his drink, and not ask him questions when he’s concentrating on swallowing. He does not need bunnies and rainbows and attaboys. Anyway, thank you for filling a huge void. I am forwarding to the local ALS chapter as well as the national organization.

  127. Those of us who suffer from non-lethal chronic illnesses can also relate. I have psoriatic arthritis, a lifelong autoimmune condition that causes vicious flareups of pain and immobility, and I am SO tired of people telling me about their tennis elbow or whatever in a misguided attempt to empathize. Emily, you are doing a great public service by creating messages that truly resonate for seriously ill people. I posted this link on a closed Facebook group called Psoriatic Arthritis Sufferers Unite, with more than 7,000 members worldwide – I know they’ll love your cards as much as I do. Thank you!!! <3

  128. Brilliant idea. Please can you add one that’s says ” I promise not to tell you how brave you are being about your cancer treatment because we both know you have no f@cking but to take this sh&t”.
    As a breast cancer sufferer it’s the thing that sends me ga ha. Also “you look so well” as it in now way correlates to how I’m feeling.

    I’m going to send the link to your site to the people organising Walk the Walk in London, think they will love these. Thank you xxxxxx

  129. These are great. Wish there were more of these around. I have never wanted to buy a traditional, crappy get-well card (because as you said, how could you tell someone ‘get well’ when they’re dying?). Thank you for these, and not only for the great idea but the execution is tasteful and well-designed, too.

  130. I’ll say it again – thank you for coming up with these! I am one of those people in need of a ‘I didn’t know what to say, I’m sorry’ card…

  131. I had never heard of your line before a friend shared this post on Facebook. Now Inwant to support your company because of the humor, thoughtfulness and -yes- empathy you’ve imbued into these cards.

    I remember breaking down in the card store while looking for a birthday card for what we knew was my mother’s last birthday with us. They all talked about the amazing year to come, while she only had days left and none of them would be amazing. I would have bought her one of these cards instead, had they existed at the time. But now they do, and I’m thankful for that.

  132. I love your cards, especially the one that says “I didn’t know what to say” as a lot of people stumble around trying NOT to say certain things when in the proximity of someone with a terminal/sserious illness. We’ll done !

  133. I am so in love with these. I was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2013 and went through a year of chemo. Unfortunately my tumor can’t be surgically removed but it is slowly shrinking. That year of chemo was hard and not for the reasons you’d think. People don’t know what to say to you so they say nothing and that’s tough. These cards are amazing for those times. Thank you for getting these out there. You’re doing an amazing thing. 🙂

  134. I think it’s strange when people tell me I’ m brave for suffering illness. Like I had a choice ? Sometimes I’d like to tell them that I’m not so brave so wouldnt be opposed to a different situation.

  135. Wow, did the world ever need these! These are just so wonderful they make me teary. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  136. Wonderful!! A couple of these would also be amazing to give to people recovering from domestic abuse.. I survived domestic abuse and so many people have just disappeared and not said anything, sure they might not know what to say but a couple of these cards would be so perfect.. and so welcome! Fantastic!

  137. I saw these linked from a chronic illness blog on Tumblr, and just had to say that I think the idea is fantastic. I would also like to encourage you to include more cards that aren’t cancer specific — by my count two of the eight currently available would only work for people with cancer, and a third only for cancer or alopecia, as it mentions wigs specifically — as there are many, many, many people with serious chronic illnesses who are frequently told, “hey, at least it’s not cancer.” Which is crap, and just as hard to hear as “everything happens for a reason”. As terrible of a disease as cancer is, there are many other horrific, painful diseases that don’t get the public attention, research dollars, or basic human empathy that cancer gets.

    For me, I have two autoimmune diseases, a heart condition, and a genetic disease (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome) that took 86 years to kill my grandmother — 86 long, painful years, with far too little sympathy offered her, and absolutely no treatment options. I know I have another 50+ long painful years ahead of me before this disease kills me too, and already I’ve been too sick to work for years now. I have *no* chance of remission, *ever*. I will never have a medical procedure as easy to understand or as likely to help my condition as chemo. There is nothing for my friends or family to rally around as with cancer.

    This is the case for the majority of people living with non-cancer serious chronic illness. Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, Crohn’s, Celiac, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Cystic Fibrosis, ALS, etc etc, accounting for tens of millions of people in the US alone. No cure, little chance of full remission, insufficient treatment options, and massively painful while being almost entirely invisible. But hey, at least it’s not cancer, right?

    I love love love the concept for these Empathy Cards, but I would love to see even more that are illness-agnostic, that would work just as well for cancer as for ALS or CRPS or EDS. Cards to express empathy for a health situation that will never let up and will only ever get worse, but will take its sweet time in killing you. Cards to express empathy for low spoon days (google spoon theory). Cards that address chronic pain, nausea, fatigue, etc, as difficult experiences worthy of empathy, separate from whatever illness is actually causing it. There are so many of us out here, so many of us with rare and complex conditions that no one we meet has ever heard of, and which even our families can’t understand. Cards that express something more helpful and empathetic than “hey, at least it’s not cancer” would do a world of good in so many peoples’ lives.

  138. Love these, thank you so much!
    If I can be so bold as to suggest a card, how about: “I am so sorry for your loss, and you totally have a right to feel sad about them dying even though they weren’t a partner or first-degree relative…” Or something.

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  141. Thank you for these, Emily! I have RA and Fibromyalgia and would love to receive one of these from a friend. I would be interested to see a line of buttons from you, or signs to be hung around necks of the chronically ill. I would purchase and proudly wear one that read: “Don’t ask. When I’m better I’ll tell you!”

  142. These are wonderful – my mom has terminal cancer and the one I tweeted today says it all…..Love them and will be getting a few for people I know – thank you so much….tweet Emily Gareis @earthyoga

  143. Wonderful! Marvelous! Terrific! And what is even better, many of these work for mental illness as well. May is National Mental Health month. Remember family/friends who are struggling and need support.

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  145. Hi Emily,
    I just wanted to congratulate you on your creative success! These cards that you have created are wonderful and I’m sure will go a long way to acknowledge someones difficulties with their health or personal loss. There is definately a huge hole in the card industry for these types of sentiments, so thank you for your creative words that wont be a typically awkward exchange of concern and offer of help.
    I was diagnosed with an invisible condition some 9 Yrs ago…. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, which is an illness of chronic pain. Cards like these would have meant a lot to me, as it is a very isolating condition the have. Because people can’t see the pain, they dismiss it and I feel like I have to constantly justify myself to others because I can no longer do what a wife and mother does, instead I rely on my husband and children to do things for me.
    Anyway, I think your cards will be very popular and I wish much success.
    Kind Regards

  146. I have no idea how to use twitter or instagram, but I shared this MOST MARVELOUS POST on my facebook page. What wonderful cards, and I’m happy you survived to create them. Will be ordering soon…sadly, there’s no way I won’t need these. You have filled a profound need, and I thank you.

  147. Omgoodness! So perfect, I just laughed and cried and then cried some more. The random internet cures..o seriously you got them all. I reckon there needs to be one that says, you’re so inspirational, that must be tiring, heres a hug. Im really sick of people saying o breast cancer, youre lucky, they can treat that. I am, they can, but my family doesnt feel lucky I have cancer. These cards are wonderful. Quietly Uplifting

  148. Thank you so much for making these. I’m not a very easily offended person, and I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but when you live with a lifelong, visible, severe disability, it’s those with the best intentions who can say some of the most bizarrely unhelpful things. I hope you release more, I’ve come up with about a half million since I started reading this article. It’s clear that this means a lot to you with how you’ve responded in the comments, so I wanted you to know there’s one more not-so-sensitive person who still feels like this is ultra-important work you’ve done here and as someone who’s directly addressed by it, I am grateful.

  149. These are incredible! I am also lucky to be in remission, but anyone who has ever had a serious illness can appreciate these! Now if I had just had the friends that didn’t suck and ditch me when I got sick…

    Simply amazing and heart warming! Thank you thank you thank you!

    And can I get an amen to no stupid internet cures!!!!

  150. Tomorrow is my 2 year anniversary of a stage IV cancer diagnosis. I’m on my 4th type of chemo. I tend to try to laugh as much as possible through this …..thing. (I agree journey isn’t my favorite term). These cards hit me just right. I appreciate the ideal behind them and how they apply to cancer as well as the other life changes and experiences others commented they’re appropriate for using as encouragement to friends and family. You’re doing a great thing here!! I know the ladies in my support group who are either in remission or treatment would agree with me. 🙂 My very favorite is the pledge not to offer cures. I want to frame it.

  151. Love these!!!!! Wish they had been around/I had seen them 6 months ago when my husband was dying from cancer!!

  152. I’ve seen these mentioned a few places today and just now was the first chance I had to read the post & see the cards. I’m fighting back tears thinking of how much I wish I had one of these back when my mom was sick with cancer. Thank you for this! (The Lemons card is my personal favorite).

  153. As a 2 time cancer survivor, I love your cards. My favorite was the one in which someone volunteered to punch the next person who said something hackneyed and stupid about everything happening for a reason. I would suggest a similar card for people who say that “the most important thing is to keep a positive attitude.”

  154. These are fantastic!

    Hope they make it to the UK – they’re the only cards I’ve seen that express how I really feel about sick friends, and at least three of them are excellent ripostes to the most common comments I’ve had since developing chronic pain. Really great work, and definitely needed.

  155. It is wonderful that you have created a means by which both the inflicted and his/her friend(s) can deal with this emotional avalanche. Most of us have learned if we cannot deal emotionally with an issue, run away!! I think that is why when we are inflicted, so many “friends” evaporate. Your product gives all a means for dealing and sticking around.

    I would like to tell a personal story related my first paragraph and to being a cancer survivor. My late-20 year old daughter’s closest friend was diagnosed with a rare and debilitating form of cancer and went through some horrid surgery and post-surgery treatment. My daughter was her constant companion through the whole ordeal. I had never met this friend, but she being close to my daughter and me being a survivor, I needed to do something. So I sent her and email. It was not a sympathy, soppy email. No! Instead, I introduced myself, told her I did not wish to send sympathy or soppy. She probably had enough of that. Instead I sent her all sorts of softly embarrassing stories about my daughter’s growing up years, ages 1-20! She laughed and laughed. The friend found it the best communique she received, especially from someone she did not know. Epilogue: We email from time to time and I finally met her face-to-face in March.

    Thank you.

  156. emily these are amazing!! I have 2 rare autoimmune diseases and have been told I’m on a. Long long road .. Journey , have you tried this or I don’t look sick but hey just ask me to walk or lift a cup then see how they respond when you struggle. But I found great support and when my friends with illness are struggling I think these would bring a smile to there faces.. I will def share these.. Thank you for sharing your wonderful talent with us . X

  157. Excellent…….I, too, do not believe “things happen for a reason.” Also, I do not believe that “this is God’s will”……..so, I truly appreciate your article and efforts. I’ve had breast cancer, our daughter’s had breast cancer…I currently have had non-Hodgkins lymphoma for more than 12 years…..so, I totally relate to your cards.

  158. You really “get it!” These are fabulous cards and so appropriate. To add another DO NOT EVER SEND THIS CARD: after my bilateral mastectomy a friend sent a card with a bandaid which said, “Ooops maybe it should have been TWO!” I still can’t get over it……. was that supposed to be funny?

    • My mouth has been open and face contorted in confusion for I don’t know how long as I stare at your comment 🙁 I am not even sure I get it, let alone think it is funny. I am so sorry for your pain.

  159. This is the most important thing I’ve seen in the illness outreach department. When my mom died of cancer in 2006, I made a pile of duplicate cards, cards I found offensive and cards that were helpful. I know she could have done the same with her cards. And as painful and frustrating as that is, I know those piles did not always correlate to the relationship or the care of the sender: I believe lots of sensitive, well meaning people still find themselves at the hallmark aisle. But this is a step toward actually caring for our hurting friends with humor, honesty and realism. Thank you for this breath of fresh air. Grief cards next? I’ll help you start: “I promise to not make this about me and my mortality issues”.

  160. Thank you for this wonderful endeavor, it is much needed. I would like to see more cards that are not specific to cancer – there are many chronic illnesses like fibromyalgia, MS, Lyme, rheumatoid arthritis and all sort of autoimmune conditions that are quite devastating and isolating, specially since other people can’t see them, and don’t understand how ill you are. Agree with glasscannon’s comment above – we need something better than “at least it’s not cancer”.

  161. These are so lovely 🙂 I can’t wait to see more from you! I struggle with several genetic, chronic and degenerative conditions and I definitely relate to a couple of these cards. Not the cancer ones – but I am glad that those are there for the folks who relate to them.

    People say the weirdest things to me, because they just don’t understand. “Get Well Soon” and “Feel Better” cards are awkward for sure, because well, that’s never going to happen for me. Have you heard of The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserando? It’s pretty awesome, and it would be so cool to see some cards that involve “spoons”! 😀

    <3 Sending hugs!

  162. Could only come from a survivor, others might not get it. 10 years post breast cancer and a missed dx for over a year, I now deal with the devastating effects of Taxol. Yes I have definately changed but this was never a gift! I did not need a horific dx to become grateful for my life. My husband found it hard to understand my feelings when I said “If one more person gives me that sad look, I m going to punch them in the throat” lol NED, never gave me comfort I guess the realist in me always thinks NOT YET, anyway. I am (was) an RN, so was aware. I always felt guilty when people said GET WELL SOON. These are awesome! Will share

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  164. I went through the cancer treatment ‘wringer’ 10 years ago and I think these cards are brilliant! Love them!
    I don’t use Twitter, Pinterest or Instragram but will share on Facebook and by email.
    All the best to you!

  165. I cried when I read these. I wish someone had found them to send to me duringy breast cancer treatment! They are exactly the right tone. And they’re adorable to boot. Thank you so much!

  166. Hi, The cards are great. Just adding some thoughts in general. While I certainly agree with pretty much everything on the cards and everyone’s comments, I do feel some grace is needed for the people who mean well but just get nervous and don’t know wht to say. Sometimes these pat phrases are just the result of people who mean well but who tend to babble when they are uncomfortable! But certainly not all the time-I have definitely heard my share of callous, idiotic, blatantly selfish, cold, CLUELESS comments to which deserve the outrage some people have expressed. For those of you who have endured that during your hardest moments, I am so very sorry. And for all the loss shared here I share your pain and pray for your healing and peace. And as one person shared, it shouldn’t matter who or what the loss is or what you as the outsider think of it. If someone is hurting, that is THEIR business. I teach my son all the time-YOU are not the judge of someone else’s pain level or timeframe for healing. They have the right to grieve or hurt for whomever or whatever and for however long they need to. I find that most of the time silence is best. Just a long, warm embrace can speak what is really needed. Blessings to you all~

  167. These are so great. Wish I had these when my mom was diagnosed and going through chemo. Glad you created them!

  168. Dear Emily, thank you for creating these cards. I just ordered a set. I’m hoping not having to use them, but I know they will be needed. Awesome work!

  169. brilliant, and soooo needed. Thank you so much, I need to buy some, I know someone right now who’d really appreciate them. I used to design children’s stationery and I did ‘birth’ announcements for babies who were still born or only lived a short time after birth, the cards were so needed by the families and yet it was such a difficult piece of news to tell anyone, if I helped those families in a small way I felt really privileged and humbled by their courage.

  170. I have looked for years for cards like this. Could I also suggest a birthday card range for people struggling with issues, whether they be health (physical or emotional), financial, grief or whatever – it’s impossible to find a birthday card that isn’t cheerfully upbeat, and therefore wholly inappropriate at times.

    For that matter, another type of card I’ve struggled to find is the obligatory card you’d rather not send. For me it was the Father’s Day card – all full of gushing sentiments about being the world’s best dad, and always there for me, and my hero, and mine just wasn’t. But I still had to send him a card.

  171. I don’t have cancer, but I have spent years trying to be kind to friends and relatives who thought they had “the” cure for my invisible illness, and the very first card I saw promised not to do that. I would love to get that card. I would love to have had these cards over the years to say the things I’m terrible at expressing. I will be thrilled to share!

  172. I am so tired of people telling me: God sends special needs kids to special parents. Really? I am not special. Just doing my job the best way I can. If you learned your child has special needs you would do the same exhausting hard work. Please don’t tell me I am special.

  173. My friend who passed away last month from stage 4 (multiple) cancers would have LOVED these. thanks for keeping it real, funny and still full of love.

  174. Emily, you have done a great service to so many by acknowledging the awful parts of loss and illness, and allowing us all to still share love and humor. Thanks so much–I’ll start tracking down stores that sell your cards….

  175. These are great! I have terminal cancer & am an atheist in the Bible Belt. These cards are particularly useful for us nonreligious types who often see cards intended more to demonstrate the sender’s piety than to acknowledge the difficulties being faced.

    Oddly enough, the period since I received my death sentence has been the happiest time of my life! Go figure….

    I am not brave, strong, or being negative by acknowledging the reality of my situation. I am simply living the most joyful life that I can for as long as I can.

    I will definitely be sharing these w/ my Metastic Cancer Support Group.

    Thank you for giving us a non- cliche way to share our support for those facing serious trials.


  176. these are absolutely fabulous! as a fellow hodgkins survivor, i applaud your efforts. i, too, was called ‘sir’ more than i care to admit, being 5’10” and bald certainly did not help. i would have thought the triple Ds were obvious enough though :/ sadly, our world just does not know how to deal with serious illness in a productive way.

    the best thing i heard during my illness was from my bro who told me that for the duration of my illness that he was head of my personal ‘point and kick’ plan. if anyone bugged me for any reason, all i had to do was point and someone’s ass would be kicked. feel free to use this if it works for you.

    bless you for your efforts, you have made the world a better place. congrats to us!

  177. Love these cards!
    It seems so disrespectful and so inappropriate to send a ‘Hope you get well soon’ card to someone who is dying. I just lost a very close friend. She knew she was dying and I knew she was dying…. I wish I could have found a card that said: “I’m here for you, no mater what. Any time, day or night, just call me and I’ll be there”.

  178. These cards are real feelings. BC 7 year survivor. Please do one about how God only gives you what you can handle. I threw up a little in my mouth every time I heard that.

  179. (Accidentally posted this comment in the Mother’s Day Cards section of this blog, but I meant to post it here with the Empathy Cards. Sorry, Emily!)

    LOVE these!

    You need to hook up with The Bloggess, these are right up her (and her many, many followers’) alley.

  180. My husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor almost 3 months ago. We look at each other and laugh everytime a doctor or friend says “Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint!” We HATE running…period. Funny what key phases get used over and over again and start to drive you crazy. Love, love all of your cards 🙂

  181. Hi,
    I love these! I just finished treatment for breast cancer last week! I would have loved one of these cards. I have a blog for young women dealing with breast cancer. Can I feature your creations on my blog? I’d love to get the word out.
    Again, these are great!!!!

  182. Thank you so much for creating these! Prior to my own illness that has had me sidelined these past six months I was a Hospice social worker. These cards reminded me so much of my dearest spunkiest patients, and the things they shared with me about the crazy things people would say to them out of discomfort or ignorance. Now that I am struggling with my own life changing illness, I can relate to many of these cards on a deeply personal level. They are spot on. Good job!!!!

  183. Great to have these cards available . We also need cards for those who will not get well. We need to acknowledge people who are dying.

    • Completely agree. I’m going to do my best to add those for our next release. One of my best friends died of cancer in 2011, and her husband has challenged me to make some good ones for people who know they are dying. Thanks, Jan.

  184. These are great. I’d love to see one that says something like, “I won’t just pray for you; I’ll visit you, help you get out” or something along those lines. I get so many folks say they’ll pray for me to be healed, and while I appreciate those prayers, on days the pain is bad, I’d really appreciate a hot dish I can throw in the oven for me & hubby, or a driver so I can take pain meds & still get errands run, etc. Practical things, as well as prayer.

  185. These are wonderful…..hopefully you’ll be able to expand them to relate to children suffering serious illness. While I understand that cards aren’t terribly significant to kids….people need ways to relate to children who are ill, ways to say I love you, and ways to tell them the same type messages in the non-adult version. Kids may not survive childhood cancer but they are the best at living life to its fullest. Good luck….I hope these are enormously successful

  186. Emily, these are brilliant and needed and lovely and loving. Thank you for making them. I will be purchasing in large quantities!

  187. Thank you so much for these cards. They remind me of my friend who’s been diagnosed with a very rare collagen disorder and she’s so misunderstood. I really wish I could send her a few of these cards to really let her know I care in a way that isn’t demeaning or placating, and respects her, her life, and her challenges. Thank you for being bold.

  188. These cards have made me tear up, and that doesn’t happen as often anymore! I suffered from severe Hyperemesis Gravidarum for my entire pregnancy in 2012. I spent 20 days in the hospital over 3 different stays, and I had PICC lines and TPN and a zofran pump. People thought I was a cancer patient at the beginning when I didn’t have a visible baby bump and I was carrying around my zofran pump. These cards are perfect for situations like mine. I found out about them because someone shared your link on the HG support group I’m a part of. Thank you for making these.

    • I forgot to add, I hated when people would say to me, but it will all be worth it in the end when you’re holding your baby! Yes, that may be true, but I couldn’t honestly say it while I was so sick. I couldn’t even really agree with it after I had my baby, even though I loved her! It was like everything I went through was minimized by that saying.

  189. So love these. I have some friends who spend most of their time trying to persuade me to try the latest quack treatment. They mean well, but so not helpful. Thanks for these, I will dispense them appropriately
    (btw I don’t suppose you are related to the Ballynahinch McDowells?)

  190. These are fabulous. I would add “I’ll happily slap silly anyone who says your condition is caused by their conspiracy theory of the week”

  191. Dear Emily,
    Your cards are amazing and exactly the sentiments that should be conveyed to people who were going through some pretty tough times. I had a tear in my eye while reading them. I have one comment and, that is, your cards seem, to me, to be leaning to the feminine end of the spectrum.
    Some of the most common, and obviously embarrassing for some, cancers are testicular and prostate cancers. Although there have been some wonderfully successful media campaigns to reduce the stigma and embarrassment issues with these cancers, it’s the individual and personal issues that stay with you the most.
    Generally the whole ‘Bloke’ attitude is, unfortunately, all we have, however subtle. I have intelligent friends who want to convey how they feel but struggle with the correct vocabulary to put across a heart felt, loving line or two in some generic ‘Get Well’ card. A few additions to your collection fashioned to the masculine may help a lot of men emotionally connect with friends and family members who they might not normally be able to.
    There are, of course, many other illnesses men might have that a card with one of your quotes would help cheer them up wonderfully.
    I understand this may be a direction you have considered and are already underway with some research into this. If so, I’d be happy to help in any way possible.

    Keep up the good work

    • Thanks so much, John, and I completely agree! This initial collection did skew a bit more feminine than it maybe should have. Future releases will include designs that are more “manly.” 😉 Much appreciate the feedback!

  192. right on the button. The moment I saw these I knew they talked to people and not at them. Posting a few images – linked back to you – on my blog, if that’s ok. If you ever do an Irish-language run, I’ll be happy to offer my services for the translation!

  193. Hi
    These are amazing. I saw them on the Facebook and now I’m sharing too!
    Might I be so very bold as to suggest:
    “You are not alone” With a space marked out like an address book so the sender can put in their phone numbers and email. I’m sure you could also make it bittersweet, whimsical and funny cos you’re clever like that 🙂 xxxx

  194. Do you have any cards for children who are ill? There are children wh o have life threatening and life shortening illnesses as well as adults..
    Cards for the family who are also suffering.

  195. These cards are fantastic – please get them into all the major retailers to reach as wide an audience as possible.


  196. Such a wonderful idea, and so beautifully.done.
    Could you create a valentine’s day card for someone whose husband has terminal cancer? Nothing like knowing you only have a few weeks/months left together to make all the “rest of our lives” and “all eternity” cards a bit like rubbing salt in the wounds. .

  197. These are great. You could also include some cards for the parents of special needs children.

    Please, yes, tell me ONE MORE TIME, “It must be so hard,” “God bless you.”

    How about you shut your piehole!

  198. Dear Emily,
    I thought I was past reacting to my cancer but your cards have brought tears to my eyes. They are honest and to the point. I too just wanted to hear that people were supportive and there for me.
    Good luck with your launch.

  199. I can’t tell you how touched I would and would’ve been to receive one of these cards. I’ve a chronic condition that hospitalized me for a while. Well-meaning people can say the most outrageous things when one is ill (one of the best, in retrospect, was the friend who was convinced I would be “cured” if only I used organic, fair trade coffee enemas, and was upset that I didn’t follow her directions since to her mind I was refusing certain cure). These cards also help the non-sick work out how to support a person suffering from a serious illness or loss even as the person who receives the card would feel like the giver had understanding, compassion and sympathy for what the lived experience of illness actually is. Thank you for these.

  200. These cards are great! They open up a whole new possibility in the language of empathy: Here are a few more suggestions: I promise not to tell you about my cancer scare that turned out to be nothing.
    And, let’s not forget: I promise not to tell you that my uncle’s second cousin had what you had and you’re going to be fine.
    lol and keep up the good work.

  201. I’ve just shared this with my endometriosis support group – endometriosis is a painful, long term and chronic condition so we might get temporary symptom relief from treatment but we aren’t ever going to get ‘better’. People don’t know what to say. The answer is THIS. Thank you.

  202. Emily
    Your “Sorry I haven’t been in touch didn’t know what to say” card is brilliant. It is so easy to lose touch with friends when suffering from a serious illness or in my case – recurring clinical depression.

    if you know someone with a mental illness and have not been in touch with them for a while – send them this card. It shows you care, is not like a call, text or email which has more pressure to respond and will help keep lines of communication open.

    Well done

  203. I love these cards! I’ve been battling a rare tumor for the past two years and have had several major surgeries, each with their own complications. Getting a card like one of these would have really made me smile! They truly speak the truth! All the well meaning platitudes are nice and people mean well but when you are in the midst of the storm it just makes you feel that no one gets it. I constantly felt like others were essentially saying suck it up and just be glad it’s not worse. I felt like my disease was trivialized because I didn’t always look sick on the outside. It can be the same now…the more my scars fade the more people assume my “journey” is all over. When in health I live in fear of reoccurrence or development of more side effects, or choking to death when I eat because I was left with right sided paralyzation of my tongue, soft pallet, vocal cord, and muscles in my neck. I will always have to deal with follow-up…for life. It doesn’t just end now that the primary tumor is gone from my neck. Thank you for developing and sharing these awesome cards!

  204. These are amazing! Empathy is one of the things that people seem to have less of these days. Can I ask you a favor? Could you expand the line to include people with chronic illnesses? There are so many people out there that suffer from what are called invisible illnesses. People say ‘but you look good, so you must feel good’, yet so many hurt, feel ill and yes, have to count their spoons daily…have you read the following? http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/?utm_content=bufferb427d&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer ? I highly recommend it. The chronic/’invisible illnesses’ include but are not limited to: Lupus, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Ehler’s Danlos Syndrome, Joint Hypermobility, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Chronic Pain and many others. I suggest googling Invisible Illness. I may be one of the affected, and although I’m not as affected by my (5) invisible illnesses as the writer of the Spoon Theory, I, too, get tired of people saying “just get out and exercise and you’ll feel better” (If I exercise like they think I should, I’ll be sick for days). Or…have you tried this supplement to help with your immune system (my immune system is working overtime killing not only the bad bugs, but also the good ones too)…or this medicine or this diet which is supposed to help your energy? When I see my friend who has Lupus and I ask her how she’s feeling, she’ll inevitably tell me “I’m good”…to which I respond “Liar” and she smiles that little smile and thanks me for understanding. She looks fantastic, but if you look at her (or most of us), really look her in the eyes, you’ll see she’s really not as well as she appears. In her eyes you see how tired she is, that she really is struggling with not feeling well today. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not looking for sympathy…but getting a little empathy from someone means so much.

    Anyway, thanks for considering the idea…and if you want any ideas, let me know! Signed, ‘I used to be called the Energizer Bunny and now I’m more like a Sloth’. 🙂

  205. These are great! I’m a social worker who counsels patients in a cancer center and these are the things they tell me every day! I would love cards for myself and to have our gift shop sell in the hospital. Can you tell me when they are available to buy on line? Do you have an etsy shop? Thanks so much for filling a big need!

  206. When I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 1999, I wish someone would’ve given me a card like this. I still have days where I would want one. It would be nice if in the future you could add one specifically geared toward “invisible illnesses” such as Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and MS. There’s still a lot of stigma regarding these illnesses. They’re lifelong, often degenerative, and since so many people judge others based on what is seen, there’s little emotional support for them.

    These cards are such a wonderful idea. You’ve given me a little bit hope that I’ve never had. Please continue with them! I hope you don’t mind if I share these to my Facebook page?

  207. I’m not on twitter, instagram or pintrest, but I did post/share this on facebook. As a breast cancer survivor myself, these are perfect.

  208. Pingback: Superheroes | Blooms and Bubbles

  209. Brilliant idea, and I can already see in the comments how there are ways this could be expanded. I’ve had a mother die of cancer – lung cancer never having smoked – a friend lose her only parent to a car crash, another lose her mother to cancer in 6 months who she provided the care for, a beloved boss who died of cancer who’s mum still works with us, and an ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage myself. I’ve never found the ‘life is a journey’ thing helps in coming to terms with these experiences, and not being religious the ‘everything happens for a reason’ one just makes me want to go all hardcore atheist debater on people’s asses (which is a little unfair because they usually haven’t even thought through the implications of that statement). I think we’ve got a bad habit of requiring people to put a brave face on the terrible things that happen to us, and that’s not only not fair but devalues and undermines the very real need to grieve – for yourself and for others. We could do with being better at allowing the person grieving to dictate the pace and learning to be better at dealing with the discomfort it creates in us as our problem, not theirs.

  210. Pingback: I’m really sorry I haven’t been in touch. I didn’t know what to say. | The Pregnant Physicist

  211. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    How about one for chronic pain: “I believe you.”

    Or an acknowledgment: “I know you’re not ‘over’ your illness just because your treatment was successful. I know you’ll always carry it inside you. I’ll always respect that. And you.”

  212. Wonderful idea!!! As a medical social worker, a cancer survivor and one who has lost too many friends and family in my life I would love to sign up to send these cards via e-mail.
    How can I do that. I buy at least 5 each month.

    • Hi Marcia! We have a partnership with Paperless Post, which enables you to send a selection of our cards via email. We will be adding these to their offering as soon as we can, and we’ll announce when they’re available on this blog/Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/carrier pigeon. 🙂 Thank you so much!

  213. Emily, I feel as if you’ve been reading my thoughts. Thank you for the creativity and determination needed to develop these cards. As someone who has advanced cancer, I’ve wanted to, at times, donkey kick people in the throat who have said some seriously wtf things to me. For the most part it was not malicious, just thoughtlessness. Your cards are things that I really would’ve loved and would continue to love to hear. Cancer is difficult enough without people who know you getting all weirded out. These cards are a master class in what to and what not to say. May you continued to be inspired to come up with many, many more simply amazing awesome cards and sayings!

  214. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THESE! I will share it on Instagram right now ! I’ve recently been given some pretty devastating news about my fertility & some of these cards fit what’s going on in my life right now! and as some others have stated for miscarriage or infant loss etc. too. Thank you for creating cards that help us with a way to say something but unsure of the words to say!

  215. Hi Emily,

    Thank you for this post. I work for a nonprofit organization called Family Reach, and we alleviate families’ financial burdens while they are in cancer treatment.

    Each member of my team has a very personal connection with cancer, and I sent this link along to all of them. They all agree you hit the nail on the head. Judging by this comments section alone, you’ve successfully connected hundreds of people who also have likely felt isolated and alone during such a shit of a time in their lives (excuse my language).

    Thank you for using your beautiful talent and creativity to share something so powerful with the world. You rule. Now, I have to go rethink our org’s approach to best wishes cards…


  216. You are a genius! THANK YOU. After a long recovery from a roll-over car accident, I can relate to feeling abandoned by “my people” when I needed them the most. I don’t know you, but I am proud of you. It takes great strength, courage, and determination to turn something so painful into something so positive. Keep creating!

  217. Beautiful work. You are so right. When my mom had a stroke many friends had no idea what to say. It’s always better to say something than nothing at all. Love your lettering!

  218. I love these! Thanks so much; they are needed! So many excellent comments above, too. Michelle’s comment reminds me of people who say, “Call me is you need anything.” (they don’t really mean it). Last time someone said that to me, I said, “But I AM calling you. I really need someone to come over and vacuum.” Oops, they didn’t have time for that. Well, they wanted to bring me a meal sometime maybe, but because of my severe asthma, I needed vacuuming. I just hate it when people say things that they do not mean.

    Also, I would love to see something more for people with invisible illness and disabilities. The kind that never go away, never get cured, and can maybe kill you, though. Like lupus–that’s what I have. People don’t get it. Even my therapist. She once said, “Everyone has something” I had to stop going to her. Or they say (or think) “At least it’s not cancer. People get cancer. I saw a lovely video of a young woman seriously ill with EDS and when she explained to the person what it was and not cancer, the person just said, “Oh.” and walked away. So so sad.

    Maybe this can never be fixed. I don’t know. But it is hard.

  219. thank you for your bravery in creating these amazing cards!! Now I have something tangible to give my Dad who’s in his second round of Rad/Chemo… He loves cards & always have since I was a kid! We give them to each other & make a point to hand write something special on them! I will help spread the word… Gratefully, Melissa

  220. Pingback: These Empathy Cards Are Extraordinary - What They Say Is Amazing | Baton.com

  221. You… are just EVERYTHING! I’d like to say that I don’t have a need to buy these cards but unfortunately I do know many people I can send these to and who will gladly appreciate the laugh.

  222. I just saw these on Slate. LOVE!

    Some of my other favorite things people said to me when my mom had breast cancer:

    1. “I’m sure she’ll be ok.” Because you’re a doctor and you’ve examined her? Because this isn’t a deadly disease? Because you’re a prophet?
    2. “She’s such an inspiration.” Inspiring you to…get cancer? I understand you’re trying to be nice and respectful of how hard life is for her right now, but we all deal with the cards we’ve been dealt. She’s not extraordinary, just sick, and trying to get better.
    3. “You know, so-and-so had breast cancer, and she’s fine now.” Because all breast cancer is the same, and no one dies from this.

    I would love to see those cards!

    Lots of people said plenty of nice things, and all were well-meaning, even if it didn’t come out right. Thank you for doing this, and helping us all help our loved ones with cancer.

  223. Brilliant! Please consider doing the same for the death of a loved one. I can’t tell you how many absolutely ridiculous things I received (verbally & on cards) when I lost my brother and mom. Keep on keeping on!

  224. I would buy these in a heartbeat!!! It’s sad tho that you had to make them. I know it’s hard for some people to convey their thoughts/feelings so they back off BUT that makes you just feel like a pariah!!! So happy that you’re in remission. Where can we purchase these?

  225. Completely awesome – your cards, and the comments. Having lived with Hepatitis C for decades, I’ve also lived with the challenging beliefs people (including me, at times) hold about illness. The expressions on these cards offer alternative vantage points to those so often held in our culture (the fight, the journey, the lemons, the reason, etc). Nothing wrong with those perspectives … I’ve tried them on at times too, and they seem to work very well for many folks. Just never felt right for me, in the end. Made me feel judge-y or judged. These are spot-on! Just being with someone where they are (including myself). I love them and resonate with them and thank you for going with your inspiration ~ a great gift indeed.

  226. Thanks to my mom, I can put a twist of humor into just about everything and every situation. My close friends rely on it. It allows me to put into words what they are the most afraid of when they have some real serious health thing happening. I do it by putting what I am most afraid of for them into words and twisting. Because there has been no resource available, I’ve resorted to creating my own ways of delivering my messages of hope and support. I’m happy to find that I now have a resource!
    Thank you.

  227. Pingback: Got A Friend With A Serious Illness? These Sympathy Cards Will Show How You Really Feel... | Unicorn Booty

  228. My best friend died of breast cancer nearly 25 years ago. She lived 2000 miles from me at the time and I wrote her often, but couldn’t ever find appropriate cards. How Joyce would have loved these! Thanks, Emily, and bless you.

  229. Every card is so right on! My friends and family, except for my Mom, also disappeared during my treatment. I’m recovered and so grateful to be alive, but definitely purged my “friend” list. I now know that when cancer shows up, people will treat you as if you are highly contagious or dead already! LOVE these cards and posted the Slate article on Facebook to let everyone know that there is something small they can do to help, and running away isn’t it! Thank you so much Emily, this is a huge public service and I hope you sell millions!

      • Hi Terri, OK, just saw this comment with the Kickstarter. Any similarity is purely coincidental. The sentiments on my cards are based on universal truths that people with illness hear constantly.

        That said, I see absolutely zero similarity between this project and my work, other than the fact that they’re both cards for people with cancer, which is hardly a new concept. I was concerned that I’d inadvertently released something similar to someone else’s work, but the wording is very, very different. Thanks for your feedback.

    • I had a look at those Still Standing cards and the wording bears no resemblance whatsoever to the wording in Emily’s cards.

  230. Love these – found the link on Slate. I had melanoma 8 years ago and between surgeries and chemo was in treatment for more than a year. Got only ONE funny card, everyone else treated me like a fragile (and humorless) flower.

  231. Pingback: The cards a cancer survivor wishes she’d received | danconnolly.co.uk

  232. Pingback: Appropriate cards for chronic illnesses | Sick of Crohn's

  233. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s when I was 20. I know people meant well, but I wish I could’ve received a few of these cards back then. Might I suggest you add one that simply says, “Well, that sucks.” 🙂 Keep doing what you’re doing!

  234. Hi Emily; your cards are wonderful. They resonate with me for 2 reasons; first, my dad passed away from cancer last year, and I really wish we’d had the chemo card to laugh over together.

    And second, I’m a mom to a seriously handicapped son. Some of your empathy cards would work so, so well for parents in a similar situation. I’m looking especially at the “I’ll punch the next person who tells you everything happens for a reason”, and, mostly, the one about miracle treatments on the internet. So many miracle stories about kids with special needs just seem to emphasize that if I would just work harder (like the supermoms in the stories), a miracle would happen & all would be well!! Not so much. So, again, thanks 🙂

  235. Thank you so much Emily for these cards. I completed my final radiation today after breast cancer. There is another woman I met at treatment who finished two days ago. I looked and looked to find the right card and couldn’t. Yesterday as I drove home from treatment I thought “someone should make a set of ‘Cancer cards’ that say just the right thing during this whole terrible time…from diagnosis to what’s next”. Seeing this post on facebook just the day after having the same thought was definitely surprising. I will be ordering a set…or two. It seems there are many people going through their own personal Hell that I never knew about until faced with my own. Having these to send to them…just to tell them I’m here and I get it…will be great! Again….thanks so much for creating these!!

  236. Hey, I am from the UK and run a little gift co, and I came across your work via Brene Brown only this week. I just want to say how much I love and respect your work on these. So heartfelt and real. I have shared this on my ‘Empathy’ board on Pinterest. Thank you Emily (and team) x

  237. Your cards are great, but I think you took the idea from Still Standing Stationery. Your words are almost verbatim to those in the Still Standing cards. You also deleted my earlier post pointing this out. Any comments?

    • I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to delete any posts, and I honestly didn’t see your earlier comment. I promise I have never heard of Still Standing Stationery, and I had never seen any cards or work that was similar to this before creating these. As a designer and writer, it is VERY important to me to always be original and not copy what anyone else is doing — this is a founding principle of my brand, and designer ethics is actually something I teach about and speak about often. If I inadvertently created something similar to another product, I swear it was an honest mistake and by no means intentional.

  238. AAHHHH!!! These are amazing! I wish these were around when my mom had pancreatic cancer. She was always so embarrassed about her situation, and I always wanted to just give her a hug and watch House Hunters International with her all day. These cards would have given her a laugh.

  239. Emily,
    I love these. I lost my 6 year old son recently after a 2 year battle with brain cancer. 2 things I heard all the time made me crazy:
    1) You’re so strong. What about something like “I’m not strong. What I really want is to collapse in a puddle every night but other people are relying on me.”
    2) Or “Let me know what I can do… Really, so now I need to make a phone call on top of all this other crap I have to deal with?” But funnier…

  240. Thank you for your response! Both collections are great and there is enough room for both collections in the world. I just thought the wording of your cards seemed almost identical to Still Standing, the concept and story! It’s scary! It sure looks like someone copied! But thanks again for your response.

  241. Pingback: Cancer survivor creates brilliant line of 'empathy cards' | Fusion

  242. Emily, I want to thank you for these! I am 22 and was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s last month. These are the perfect representation of how I want people to respond when I tell then what’s going on! Congrats on your success, way to turn an experience as un-fun as cancer into a way to brighten others lives!

  243. These are fabulous! I also know a family whose six year old daughter is going through cancer treatment as well. You might consider partnering with a children’s hospital to work on a line for parents of little ones going through long illnesses. Those cards are also imppossible to find.

  244. So great! How about something referring to the annoying “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” saying that I keep getting. Or the “but you look so great”? Thanks, but I’m dying inside.

    Love them all.

  245. Emily, I have long been a fan of your work. And now I love it even more! I’m always that awkward friend/family member that just doesn’t know what to say in the face of sickness, and I appreciate these cards greatly. Thank you for being amazing!

  246. Amazing and well done. I would love to sell these in my store….I’m in North Conway, NH. Please send me an email when you have a moment.

    • Thanks Nanci! We have a very active wholesale program. To become a stockist, the best thing to do is to go to emilymcdowell.com/wholesale and fill out our short wholesale inquiry form with some basic info about your shop. Someone from our wholesale team will get back to you ASAP with next steps and a link to download our new catalog!

  247. Pingback: MeFi: What to send when you don’t know what to say | Stpetersburgday

  248. Pingback: Empathy Cards! | "I HAD Breast Cancer

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  250. My husband had two stage 4 cancer (NH lymphoma) diagnoses 3 years apart, and died 4 months ago after acquiring a very rare and horrible disease (PML) resulting from treatment. All of that left me wishing that there were cards like yours available to help people have comfort both sending and receiving “I heard you were sick/dying/whatever” cards. You’ve nailed the words and created images that feel easy and right. I also appreciate the lack of overt religious connotations. Thanks all around.
    p.s. I looked at the other site cited and felt there is no comparison. Very different.

  251. I love these. I have ovarian cancer and thankfully only heard the worst stuff a couple of times. I am very fortunate to know many people who can figure out the right things to say. But I know my circle of support is unique in this regard. It would be nice to have one that acknowledges that some cancers (and other chronic illnesses) never really go away for good. A struggle right now for me is that everyone acts as though my 3 or 6 month good checkup is the “end” of the nightmare, while I know that I have years to go before I can even begin to think that I am in remission, and even then it could come back at any time. It’s a roller coaster of hope and fear that never stops.
    Thank you for doing these. It’s clearly met a need and I know that your work will be well received.

  252. Thank you so much for creating these fabulous cards. We will put them up on our website ASAP!!! A little about us: BostonCancerSupport.org  is a non-profit in Massachusetts that functions both online and within communities. The web presence provides resources for cancer patients and their families at the state, region, city and town level, such as financial aid opportunities for prescription drugs, prosthetics, and respite care for caregivers. In addition, there are resources for palliative care, clinical trial information, free or subsidized lodging locations during treatment, support groups to fit various needs, and more. Boston Cancer Support also runs a Collective Impact Program called The CancerCollaborative™, which brings together a wide variety of cancer support organizations within the same community, to discuss how they can avoid functioning in silos, best work together to sustain collaboration.

  253. When I read these cards I laughed and CRIED! My sister would have LOVED them and these were everything we talked about. She passed away from cancer 6 weeks ago. I looked for cards like these and couldn’t find so I would make up my own. So glad to see someone finally doing them right! They are great and I’ve shared your link on Facebook. Thanks!

  254. Thank you so much for these! I did the ‘thing’ for a few years…was surprised at those who stepped forward and those who vanished…leaving skid marks.

    How about one that says…”I love you but I don’t know how to do this dance with you. You will be in my prayers, but that’s the best I can do.”

    These. Are. BRILLIANT.

  255. Brava! These are perfect. Something similar would be awesome as a card folks can give to friends, ” I’m sick, and I know it’s killing you to not know what to do or say- me too, let’s hang out and say nothing together because I miss your face for fucks sake” that would be good.

  256. Pingback: These Are The Cards You Should Really Send To Someone With Cancer | OK Fashion

  257. Pingback: These Are The Cards You Should Really Send To Someone With Cancer | bestindianheaddress

  258. These. Are. Amazing. As yet another person coming from the place of cancer, I love these. Ernest honest empathy. I’m excited to buy them. THANK YOU!

  259. Pingback: A penny for your positivity | fivefairiesandafella

  260. Thanks so much for these, they are wonderful. The messages are heartfelt and thoughtful – so much better than the endless array of “get well soon”s and other saccharine platitudes out there – and the illustration and lettering are beautiful and upbeat even when the sentiment is more subdued. I love the lemons one, particularly! A little humour can be a wonderful thing in a terrible situation!

    My mum passed away a few months ago after a six month illness, and she really wasn’t the kind of person to enjoy typical illness-related cards (nor were the “get well soon” ones all that helpful once it became clear the cancer was terminal). It’s often so hard for people to know what to say in that situation, but I know she would have loved to receive one of these cards. I hope I am not in the situation to need to give a card like this again, but if I ever am I’m glad you’ve made them! And I look forward to seeing more in the collection if you decide to expand the range.

  261. Fantastic initiative Emily! Can you also work on cards to give to parents of (young) children who are sick? Or is that something that is just as hard to relate to for you as it is for me? Good luck, and I’ll help spread the word about your cards!

  262. Pingback: Cards for the Seriously Ill | Loss, Grief, Transitions and Relationship Support

  263. These are great, it is interesting to see the different ways friends and family react when they are told you have terminal cancer. I know that some of them just do not know what to say or do. Some of them really just needed one of these cards.

  264. I saw these through a Facebook group called California Potsies, for people with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. They are so awesome!! Please please do a line of similarly awesome but non-chemo specific cards for all other chronic illnesss. They are so needed out there! Terrific work.

  265. Bless you. I clicked because they spoke to how I felt after my daughter died, and stayed because one of my friends was just diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkins. ♡

  266. Love, love, love. Will you be making sympathy cards too? Or do you already? I would buy you out for sure because what’s out there really blows. I love your spirit, candor, and tenderness all at the same time. You’re honest and real. As a mother who has had two children die, I refuse to buy others cards with platitudes. Ever. These are a breath of fresh air and life to my soul. Thank you.

  267. Oh I LOVE these. I have CFS/ fibro and have been going through a rough patch with it lately. These made me smile. So I’m just gonna pretend someone sent me one instead of some of the other things I’ve been told by one or two ‘understanding’ folk (real encouraging things like ‘suck it up’). I’m a special needs Mama too. My boy has Autism. There’s a great big range of folk out there who need this kind of understanding. Never underestimate the power of a simple card that says somebody cares.

  268. what an absolutely wonderful idea! I was just ambushed several hours ago at a store. The woman commented on my head wrap, then proceeded to ask me if I had cancer. I listened very politely for what seemed like an hour, as she ticked off a list of “alternative” treatments to chemotherapy. I appreciate people and their opinions, but obviously, I’ve already made my treatment choice, and I really just want to enjoy my brief moment out of the house, and get my shopping done!!
    You are a genius!
    ~Lynsey M.

  269. Found this through tumblr, and wow. I (a) wish I had gotten these when my dad was ill and (b) am probably going to get some to send to some friends of mine. These are great.

  270. Thank you so much for this!! My father recently passed away from cancer, and it was a gut-wrenching experience for us all. It would have brightened my day tremendously for him or us to have received any of these cards during that time. It is wonderful to see it when people “get it”. We had so many cliches and otherwise unsupportive responses thrown at us and it’s exhausting at a time when you’re already exhausted. These are the antidote!
    I will share this!!

  271. YES! I would have LOVED to get the “punch the next person” card after I lost my job last year. Financial ruin isn’t something they make greeting cards for, but it was so nice to hear from the few people who reached out. Bookmarking your site – I know I’ll be coming back to buy some of these the next time I have a friend in crisis!

  272. Pingback: Empathy & Connection – Sabrina

  273. Marilyn Duman (Charlie’s mother-in-law) asked me to comment on these cards. I was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer 2 years ago and she thought I might have a certain perspective.

    First of all, I love the sense of humor. However, not all people having a tough time, especially if it is fairly recent, would be up for that quite yet. I think these are perfect cards for someone that has had a month or two under their belt and have had a chance to come to grips with it.

    I also would not have a card that offers help if requested. I know very few cancer patients that would actually ask someone for help. Caregivers need to just do stuff that they know would help. Not sure how you would develop a card along those lines but that is the challenge. “I’ll be over tomorrow to take you to lunch” or “your trash is hereby taken to the curb for the next month.” That’s why I don’t design get-well cards for a living…:)

    That said, I would have loved to get cards like this. I appreciate the unique humor that you typically would not get under such circumstances, A good laugh only helps the healing process.

    I might include some portion of these in my next cancer blog if that is OK.


  274. Pingback: 8 nontraditional empathy cards that are unlike any you've ever seen. They're perfect! - Seatbelt Guitar

  275. Thanks so much for these wonderful cards. I”m being treated for metastatic breast cancer [inoperable]. I had T shirts made up for my chemo treatments to cheer me up. One has Doris Day in her buckskin glory singing ‘Once I had a secret Love’, except on my Tshirt she’s singing ‘Once I had a secret lump, that grew up in the heart of me, all too soon my secret lump, became impatient to be free’. Cracked the chemo nurses up no end.

  276. words can not express how thankful i am for these cards, emily. i just wish they’d exist one year earlier.

  277. Pingback: To Share | Chantal

  278. Oh how I wish these were available 8 years ago. Bravo!!

    Your Starbucks comment made me snort. I was actually followed into the ladies room at a local science museum with my 6 at the time daughter. A lady was telling me I was in the ladies room, to which my daughter replied, “This is my *mommy*…she is a GIRL! And she has cancer!!” I have never seen a more mortified look! 🙂

    Be well and keep creating!

  279. Pingback: how to handle cancer…or infertility | littledragon84

  280. Loved the cards , especially the ‘one more chemo down’ , so true, my husband stopped drinking rum and took up alcoholic ginger beer as social drink during chemo due to taste changes. So many memories that can now seem funny and easier to deal with.
    Cancer sucks and not everyone has support and its true people stay away, but in this day and age it is so prevalent that it does get easier to approach.

  281. These are spot on. I was surprised by how touched I was to receive a personally written note or card in the mail. Texts and emails were nice, but for someone to make the effort to put pen to paper was incredibly meaningful to me. And these sentiments are so perfect.

  282. Pingback: 8 nontraditional empathy cards that are unlike any you've ever seen. They're perfect! - Ice Trend

  283. This is so great. I have a child with moderately severe autism and run a nonprofit for families with autism in the Houston area and would love to see some made for those of us with permanently disabled children too!
    An autism related card could be “are you sure he has autism because he looks so cute to me?”….
    Seriously we hear stuff like that all the time!

  284. These are great! I ordered one of each because I want to share them with as many people as possible. I have metastatic breast cancer and have gotten my share of “get well1” cards that just hammer home the fact that I will probably not get well. Awesome idea

  285. Pingback: eltounsi 8 nontraditional empathy cards that are unlike any you've ever seen. They're perfect! - eltounsi

  286. Pingback: This new line of greeting cards is sweet, touching, and perfect

  287. How about one for the caregiver? “I’m so sorry that the person you love is sick and you’re stuck holding all the pieces together, taking care of them and trying to stay strong while he/she gets all the sympathy. If you want somewhere you can fall apart and be a mess, I’m here for you.” My husband went through a year of cancer treatment while I took care of our 3 young kids (and him!), held down my job and kept everything in our live still going. My husband got about a hundred sympathy cards. I wanted to scream, what about me? This is wrecking me too, not just him!!!

  288. Pingback: When Life Hands Your Friend Lemons, Get Them These Sympathy Cards

  289. Pingback: Don’t know what to say to someone with cancer? | It's all about the Parking

  290. Emily, Thank YOU! Being a recent survivor (clean scan end of March) I totally fell in love with these especially the Chemo one. Thanks so much again and best of luck!

  291. I LOVE these! As someone with ALS, I would propose for spouses and caregivers: “I know this disease is just as hard on you. I’m here for you too.'”

    I have a ton of support, but my #1 concern IN LIFE is for my husband who is going to have a very hard road dealing with the progression of my illness and even harder time once I’m gone. I do NOT understand why people don’t get this. It makes me crazy and breaks my heart.

  292. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    My stepmom died of terminal cancer and in the end, she wouldn’t meet with people because they kept trying to feed her bull$%# platitudes. (particularly, “everything happens for a reason”)

    I saw firsthand all of the notions you communicate in your cards. Her honesty until the end is what makes her my hero.

    Thank you again.

  293. Cards that make you want to laugh and cry and wish you had them and wish you’d come up with the idea yourself. Love them. Please tell me how I can order these?…

  294. Pingback: Cancer Survivor Designs The Honest Empathy Cards She Wishes She Had Received From Friends And Family : TMG

  295. The cards are great and so needed! When I had cancer, some friends just disappeared for a while. I figure they didn’t know what to say or how to act around me. When I finished treatment, one person even told me “I thought everyone who had cancer died.” These cards would have made me laugh and we know that laughing releases healing endorphins! I hope you’ll consider some of the suggestions from other posters as to empathy cards for various situations. Great job!

  296. Pingback: Cancer survivor's cards give direction to the well-intended - Holy Kaw!

  297. Wow, these cards are great. Especially the lemon one. 🙂 I was very recently diagnosed with a severe chronic disease, and GOOD LORD people must really have no idea what they put me through by saying things about their auntie or friend’s husband who had the same disease. Thank you for this, I wish they were available in every Wal-Mart and similar, worldwide! xxx

  298. As a cancer survivor, I was told a lot words from people who felt they needed to say something to make me feel better. Most of the time the words did not help. When talking with friends who have also gone through cancer, it seems all of us have had that awkward experience. What you have created has captured perfectly what needed to be said. Thank you for making these. I know I’ll be sharing it with everyone I know. Any success you get is well deserved.

  299. You are a comedic genius!! Dealt with way too much cancer in my life, and YOU make me laugh! Hate the stupid things people say, I know they mean well…but if they would just think for one second before they move their mouth! Love every one of these cards!

  300. Pingback: Humour | PurrHiss

  301. These are absolutely fabulous!!! I went through cancer and can relate to all those cards. I’ve heard those statements from others and I know they were struggling with how to react to my illness but humour is absolutely the best way!!! Thank you for making these.

  302. Pingback: A Cancer Survivor Creates The Only Greeting Cards That Your Struggling Loved Ones Will Actually Appreciate | Thought Catalog

  303. Emily, please write a book! I am happy to know so many others are driven crazy by the misuse of “journey”. Thank you for your work!

  304. Hi, I would buy these cards except for one thing…the filthy language on them. Not everyone likes this kind of language.

  305. These are great. The thing my mom most hated being told was that she was a warrior against cancer, in a battle. She hated being a hero for other people, instead of a regular person who was very sick. And it felt especially bitter when the disease took her life much too early. I really thought the ‘journey’ card and the ‘lemons’ and the ‘all right in the end’ sentiments were right on. We heard this all the time and it didn’t help, although I guess I have to give people credit for trying to help in their own ways. We also had people who never said anything – writing a card for people who don’t know what to say is brilliant. I don’t think how to send one like that, but at least it’s one of those things people sometimes need to do. Thanks – this was fun! 🙂

  306. Hi Emily,

    First of all, I’m glad you’re healthy! Second, that you are sufficiently courageous and brilliant to have designed these cards!

    Almost everyone lacks the words for certain situations. First of all, it’s impossible to be in someone else’s head. Even if you’re wearing similar “shoes”. And like many here said, some of these work perfectly for other circumstances in which people find themselves at a loss. Even very silly ones! My boyfriend and I announced we were postponing our wedding because we couldn’t afford the celebration we want. Largest response? Silence…It just made me laugh because this, of course, is not a tragic situation. Many are assuming something is wrong with our relationship. What occurs in people’s heads when faced with tragic situations (real or imaginary )is what tends to be tragic. Anyway….GOOD WORK!!!! LOVE THE CARDS!!!!

    Eilat – Buenos Aires, Argentina

  307. Love this! I work at a nonprofit (Angel Flight West) that does free flights for patients who can’t afford to get to/from medical treatment. Can we share this on our blog? 🙂

  308. Pingback: 8 nontraditional empathy cards that are unlike any you've ever seen. They're perfect! | Bullet Metro

  309. Pingback: Legitimate empathy cards | A Melanoma Journey

  310. Having had the dubious joy of testicular cancer way back in 1985…. I have a couple of suggestions for extension on the “Please may I be the first to punch the next person who …”

    “Tells you you are so brave” – I didn’t feel brave, brave people have choice. The only choice I had was “sign here or die next week”

    “Refers to having cancer as a battle” – Being in a battle is an active thing – you are physically doing something to help yourself. Being treated for cancer is a totally passive thing – other people do nasty stuff to you day in and day out for weeks and months on end – describing it as a battle really offended me.

    Thank you

  311. I wanted to let you know how much I love these cards. 6 years ago my life changed forever after being diagnosed with gastroparesis (a paralyzed stomach). I have been unable to eat anything and am fed through a tube placed in my intestine for 18 hours a day and spent more time in the hospital than out. I even have a gastric pacemaker. Not easy, but the pain and isolation are the hardest part. People don’t know what to say, and often say nothing. I have many well meaning friends who offer the “cure” (right now there is no cure for GP) saying things like if you eat Activa you will be cured or if you exercise you will feel better” These cards are amazing and give friends and family a way to reach out and not worry about what to write. These cards say it all! I’m so happy you are doing well and I wanna say once more how much I LOVE these card and how much they make my heart smile!! TY!!

  312. I am another person who lost her baby. A card for that situation would be wonderful. These are perfect 🙂

  313. Pingback: Honest Empathy: Emily McDowell’s cards for people with serious illness | Desktop

  314. Thank you for creating these. I completely identify with people disappearing because they didn’t know what to do when a young person had cancer and these give people a way to show they care.

    I would definitely add ones for caregivers and family members who may be too young to understand but need to know that someone cares about them even when they are feeling forgotten in the midst of treatments. Also for chronic disease when someone has a bad day/week and needs that boost that you are there for them regardless of the disease.

    And on a more hopeful note, maybe ones celebrating remission and ones that acknowledge that for most survivors, recovery is actually a life long process with a life time full of side affects that no body else sees.

    I love that this goes beyond cancer and hope that these can bring hope to many more people.

  315. Hi

    Thank you for showing us such a wonderful card.
    My mother has alzheimer’s disease and she is not as she was.
    I have no words to say. Definitely Not get well.
    I wonder you can make Japanese version of those cards.

    Thank you
    Best regards,
    Toshiko from Tokyo

  316. Pingback: Cartões com as palavras certas para quando você não sabe o que dizer a alguém doente -

  317. Thank you so much for creating these beautiful cards. I finished breast cancer treatment this year and I was shocked by how lonely it was, that a person fighting cancer would go so many days without having a friend or family member check in. I know illness and death are uncomfortable things, but I really do not relate in the slightest to the impulse to disappear when a loved one needs you most. I’ll never not think it’s completely jerky. In love, you push past that.

    Your cards will prevent a lot of other people from experiencing that pain and I thank you for it.

  318. I would like to suggest one:

    ” I know you really don’t need something with a pink ribbon on it to remind you that you had breast cancer – as if you could forget!”

  319. Someone has probably already mentioned this… I didn’t read all of the comments, but some of these would be perfect for someone who was raped. I can think of some great additions specific to sexual assault that are sooo needed and I’d love if you’d consider making a few rape-specific cards. Regardless, thank you for creating these! What a wonderful idea!

  320. Hi Emily,
    I just heard you with Ina on NPR…had to check out all the commotion! Your line is fabulous – all the best to you and your staff!!

  321. Pingback: A Few Beautiful Things. | theOffice

  322. Oh Emily. If only I’d seen the empathy cards a few weeks back. My 23years old son had suffered from osteosarcoma for the last seven years and unfortunately lost his battle on 17th April, we had his funeral on 1st May As a close knit family we’ve looked in all the card shops trying to find the cards with the ‘right’ words, there’s only so many blank cards that you can buy and fill with your own witticisms, so your new collection would’ve been heaven to find. May I wish you all the luck in the world, not only with your Empathy cards, but with your own health. I shall be emailing you personally as well. Thank you.

  323. Emily – you are a goddess! These are stunningly perfect. Huge congratulations to you and enjoy well deserved success!!!

  324. I love these cards! They are also perfect for those of us who suffer from invisible illnesses such as chronic migraine or fibromyalgia which come with such stigma and which often result in a life of isolation because friends and loved ones really don’t know what to say or do. Really, any illness that involves chronic pain and a life profoundly changed would be perfect for these cards. I can’t tell you how many times people ask me “have I tried…” when in reality what I really need is support, love and understanding. Thanks again!