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Los Angeles–based designer Emily McDowell was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 24, enduring nine months of chemo and radiation before going into remission.

“The most difficult part of my illness wasn’t losing my hair, or being erroneously called ‘sir’ by Starbucks baristas, or sickness from chemo,” McDowell writes on her website. “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.”

Emily is now cancer-free and has made a set of, quite frankly, amazing empathy cards.

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