Jackie Adams 2016-09-01 07:30:14
Handwritten notes provide words of hope and encouragement to those diagnosed with breast cancer. Thanks to a proliferation of pink ribbons every October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the ubiquitous disease is well known. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 224,000 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 alone. Yet, despite all of the media attention, it’s impossible to know what it’s like to face breast cancer until the threat becomes a reality for yourself or a loved one. However, Girls Love Mail (GLM) founder Gina Mulligan knows firsthand. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, she dealt with the feeling of sudden isolation. “You feel kind of alone,” Mulligan says. “Even though you know others have cancer, you just feel very alone.” During this time, Mulligan found great comfort in letters sent from strangers: People from her church and friends of friends sat down with pens and paper and wrote thoughtful words of encouragement to her, and the effect was wonderfully healing. After finishing her treatment at the end of 2009, Mulligan decided to organize a group of volunteers and start sending handwritten notes to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients to pay forward the kindness and support she received. Since those initial letters, the Girls Love Mail organization has sent more than 66,000 handwritten notes. The letters come from cancer survivors, elementary school students, and even fraternities sending their own survival stories and warm words of encouragement. “We hear from letter recipients quite a bit and I’m always surprised at the ones who tell me that not only do they keep the letter, they read it every night,” Mulligan says. “They would read it in the morning before they went for treatment. I think having that tangible reminder that you’re not alone—it’s very powerful.” Those constant affirmations are what motivate Mulligan and her team to keep growing and distributing more letters. This year, GLM plans to collect and send 26,000 notes as part of its Miles of Mail campaign. To help with the effort, or for more information on how to become a letter writer, visit girlslovemail.com and send your own words of encouragement.
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