There’s something so special about receiving a hand-written holiday card this time of year. They’re usually filled with cheerful messages of glad tidings and great joy. However, for someone with cancer, even a simple, well-intentioned greeting like “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” could come off as insensitive. With that in mind, as you fill out your cards this year, we’ve come up with a few tips to help you write a holiday card for someone with cancer.
KEEP THE HOLIDAY CARD POSITIVE
First and foremost, make sure you keep your message positive and simple. They’re likely going through one of the most challenging times of their life, so a few words of encouragement can go a long way.
When writing a holiday card for someone with cancer, try to focus on what’s special about them. What makes you grateful for this person? What positive memories do you have that might put a smile on their face?
For example, you could say, “During this holiday season, I’m thinking about that year we went to the special showing of White Christmas and sang along with Bing and his friends! I’m so thankful for your friendship.”
DON’T IGNORE THEIR CANCER
While you want to make sure the tone of your holiday card for someone with cancer is positive, it’s also important not to ignore the fact they have cancer. Show interest in their journey and ask how they’re feeling or how treatment is going.
Your acknowledgement of their cancer doesn’t always have to be serious either. You could lighten it up with a joke like, “If cancer had a butt, I’d tell you to kick it.” Or remind them to stay strong with a line like, “If I was cancer, I would be scared messing with you!”
LET THEM KNOW YOU CARE
One of the most important things you can do when writing a holiday card for someone with cancer is to let them know you care. Make sure they know you’re thinking of them and hoping for better days in the new year.
If the person was recently diagnosed, offer to be a listening ear by saying something like, “I’m thinking of you. Call me any time!” If they’ve already started treatment, remind them you’re there for them and are willing to help with anything they need. Support them and encourage them with phrases like, “I’m rooting for you,” “Your strength inspires me,” or, “I’m so proud of you.”
WHAT TO AVOID IN A HOLIDAY CARD
Of course, when you write a holiday card for someone with cancer, there are a few things not to do. Don’t overpromise things that are of your control. For example, avoid saying things like, “Everything will be fine.”
Also, don’t assume you know how the person is feeling or what they’re going through. Every cancer patient’s journey is unique, so trying to equate it to someone else’s experience can sometimes miss the mark.
Lastly, avoid cliches like “Everything happens for a reason” or “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Those phrases tend to minimize someone’s pain. Instead, focus on validating their feelings and sharing positive thoughts.
Ultimately, the goal of your holiday card for someone with cancer should be to let the person know they have a supportive friend in you. By writing a simple, positive message; acknowledging their situation; and showing that you care, you’ll be able to accomplish this goal without running the risk of sounding insensitive.