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Cancer Sucks - These Cards Don't

31 Mar


Hello again. My son Aaron found Emily McDowell’s Empathy Cards online and showed them to me. They’re to send to people with cancer. I read a few, and it immediately hit me: there’s been a sea change in attitudes about cancer.

A diagnosis is no longer a de facto death sentence, as it used to be when I was a kid. Nowadays, people get cured. Many others live with cancer as a chronic disease for decades, going about their business, leading full and robust lives. Nowadays, people can laugh about it, even.

Case in point: these Empathy Cards are just as they’re named: hugely, delightfully, reassuringly empathetic.

They are also hilarious.

The messages on them were written by someone who knows the score. They are the product of experience - with cancer and with people’s reactions to it. They reveal a perfect ear for gritty truth, irony, platitudes, and what most pains and irritates cancer patients and the people who love them. They sure did resonate with me.

Check it out – we chose these 5 messages for starters:

 And I love this one, which is not funny, but badly needed by people who’ve been avoiding a cancer patient they care about, and feeling awful about it – a truthful apology that says: 

So, we love these cards. We think they represent real growth in our collective response to cancer, a maturing of authenticity and attitude. We salute Emily McDowell and thank her for them. And now I’m going to brighten the spirits of a half dozen people I know by sending them, along with one of our guided meditations for chemo.

Take care and be well.


Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award