By WESLEY KERRICK
Cancer isnâ€™t funny. But thereâ€™s a brand of greeting cards now available in Louisville that are designed to cheer cancer patients up with a little humor.
Cancer Girl cards spring from the creative mind of an entrepreneurial retailer who lives in Minneapolis. A survivor of stage 3A breast cancer, Kathy Honey-Murphy knows what itâ€™s like to battle the disease. She also knows what helped lift her spirits.
â€œIn talking to survivors, they all say a good attitude helps,â€ she said over the phone from Minneapolis. â€œBut there was nothing really out there that spoke to what we were going through in an uplifting and positive way.â€
Before her diagnosis in August 2011, the 49-year-old mother of three had been running her own gift and home decor stores for 16 years. And because her mother had been through breast cancer, Honey-Murphy wasnâ€™t overwhelmed by her own diagnosis.
â€œIâ€™ve gone through a lot of difficult things in my adult life, and just learned that keeping a positive attitude helps,â€ she said. â€œAnd thatâ€™s just kind of the way I think Iâ€™ve always been.â€
Honey-Murphyâ€™s ability to laugh in the midst of suffering helped her conquer the disease. She emerged from her battle cancer-free and inspired to help others going through the same thing.
She was ready to get back into retail. But this time, it would have a different spin. â€œI had always had the idea of doing my own product line at some point,â€ she said. â€œHaving cancer was kind of a catalyst.â€
Honey-Murphy started thinking about a product line that would encourage cancer patients. Thatâ€™s when a sales rep and longtime friend suggested greeting cards, and Cancer Girl was born.
Honey-Murphyâ€™s cards are now sold in 180 stores across the country and in Canada. Six of those stores are in Kentucky.
â€œIâ€™ve gotten a lot of personal messages on Facebook,â€ she said. â€œWomen have thanked me. Theyâ€™ve said, â€˜Itâ€™s about time. Thank you for making me laugh.â€™â€
Honey-Murphy has found that the family and friends of cancer patients usually need encouragement, too.
â€œPeople are so worried about getting it themselves that they donâ€™t know what to do, and so they get tongue-tied,â€ she said.
And oftentimes you find yourself comforting them more than theyâ€™re comforting you.â€
Thatâ€™s why Cancer Girl Cards are designed to put family and friends at ease, too. Honey-Murphy learned from her own experience that if she could stay upbeat in spite of her cancer, it relieved the anxiety others felt.
â€œThey think youâ€™ve got one foot in the grave, and you really donâ€™t,â€ she said. In fact, breast cancer is highly curable and the survival rate is high.
â€œYou donâ€™t hear about your neighbor down the street whoâ€™s a 20-year cancer survivor, but you hear about your friendâ€™s husband who got cancer, and two months later they were gone,â€ she said.
Honey-Murphy almost singlehandedly runs the Cancer Girl brand, which also offers personal care products and has begun adding a line of cards for men. Next year, she expects to hire some help. Also in 2015, she plans to introduce a line of â€œwords of encouragementâ€ cards, designed specifically to help family and friends know what to say.
You can purchase Cancer Girl cards in Louisville from Baptist Health, Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital and Home & Leisure in Prospect.