Cancer Girl Finds Humor in the Battle

Editors Note: This article is the first of a series running in October to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Contributing Writer

Cancer isn’t funny. But there’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 it’s like to battle the disease. She also knows what helped lift her spirits.

“In talking to survivors, they all say a good attitude helps,” she said over the phone from Minneapolis. “But there was nothing really out there that spoke to what we were going through in an uplifting and positive way.”

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 wasn’t overwhelmed by her own diagnosis.

“I’ve gone through a lot of difficult things in my adult life, and just learned that keeping a positive attitude helps,” she said. “And that’s just kind of the way I think I’ve always been.”

Honey-Murphy’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. “I had always had the idea of doing my own product line at some point,” she said. “Having cancer was kind of a catalyst.”

Honey-Murphy started thinking about a product line that would encourage cancer patients. That’s when a sales rep and longtime friend suggested greeting cards, and Cancer Girl was born.

Honey-Murphy’s cards are now sold in 180 stores across the country and in Canada. Six of those stores are in Kentucky.

“I’ve gotten a lot of personal messages on Facebook,” she said. “Women have thanked me. They’ve said, ‘It’s about time. Thank you for making me laugh.’”

Honey-Murphy has found that the family and friends of cancer patients usually need encouragement, too.

“People are so worried about getting it themselves that they don’t know what to do, and so they get tongue-tied,” she said.
And oftentimes you find yourself comforting them more than they’re comforting you.”

That’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.

“They think you’ve got one foot in the grave, and you really don’t,” she said. In fact, breast cancer is highly curable and the survival rate is high.

“You don’t hear about your neighbor down the street who’s a 20-year cancer survivor, but you hear about your friend’s husband who got cancer, and two months later they were gone,” 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 “words of encouragement” 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.

For more information, visit www.cancergirlllc.com, call 763.458.8290 or email Honey-Murphy at kathyhoney.cancergirl@gmail.com. Visit www.facebook.com/cancergirlllc for events and updates.