Honest Empathy: Emily McDowell’s cards for people with serious illness

When she was 24, American designer and illustrator Emily McDowell was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She went into remission after 9 months of chemo and radiation therapies, but the experience remained something of a formative one. 14 years later, she’s created a line of greeting cards aimed at combatting the loneliness felt by many cancer patients.

“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,” McDowell states. “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.”


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