Cancer Survivor Story: The Cards She Wished She Got

By: Kristine Alarcon


When Emily McDowell was 24-years-old, she survived Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma after nine months of radiation and chemo before going into remission.

With a background in design, Emily McDowell launched “Empathy Cards” when she was 38-years-old. She started this project to say the things she wanted to hear when she was ill. As she was undergoing treatment, the hardest thing for her was isolation and loneliness. Her family and friends were at a loss for words and sometimes expressed things that were hurtful even though they were not meant to be. The greeting cards are meant to find better ways for families, friends, and patients communication with each other whether it is mental illness, chronic illness, cancer, etc.

The Empathy Cards have a minimalist style with bright colors and a homey feel. McDowell hopes that the cards allow people to connect and that those who receive the cards feel that they are loved, understood, and seen.

Kristine Alarcon is a senior at the University of San Francisco working towards a Bachelors of Science in Biology. She is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine.


Hohenadel, Kristin. “A Cancer Survivor Designs the Cards She Wishes She’d Received From Friends and Family.” Slate. Retrieved on May 9, 2015.

Photo Credit: (McDowell, Emily)



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