Cancer empathy cards: They say what patients REALLY want to hear

So McDowell started a freelance career designing greeting cards. As her business grew, she knew she wanted to create empathy cards for illness. On Monday she finally released her line of Empathy Cards: Support for Serious Illness, designed to blend wit, awkward truths and understanding.

“You start to feel like you are only cancer, but I am the same person as I was yesterday before I got the news,” McDowell said. “Finding things that are universal emotional truths about [illness] and using them to create products to connect with people — this is really how I approached it.”