Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be incredibly isolating, no matter how much love and support you have around you. And we all know how exciting it is to receive a letter or a handwritten card in the post - I will always remember when Mum was in hospice, she received a gift of a hand-knitted pair of socks together with a little handwritten note and she was so thrilled to read the note - the power of that little note really touched me.
So I was especially excited to find out about the amazing charity From Me to You who are on a mission to encourage us all to better connect with our loved ones going through cancer, by writing them a letter.
We all love receiving a handwritten letter through the post, the feeling you get. That rush of excitement, the anticipation of ‘what’s inside?!’ - Reading well thought out words from someone close to us, offering an opportunity of reflection and even becoming a tactile keep sake for the future. Letters provide us with such a wholesome experience.
A much loved quote by Phyllis Theroux describes the art of sending a letter perfectly
“To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.”
Set up by Alison Hitchcock and Brian Greenley, From Me to You was developed as a result of Brian being diagnosed with bowel cancer; In a bid to help him through what is an incredibly isolating and terrifying experience, Alison began writing letters to Brian, providing the support and distraction he needed. Four years later Brian had fully recovered and together with Alison their mission is to encourage and inspire people to write letters to friends and family suffering from cancer.
The idea is simple: write a letter, put it in an envelope, stick a stamp on it and send it on its way. Yet, the impact of such a simple task on the recipient is an incredibly powerful, emotive and supportive experience. There are so many reasons, ‘why it’s good to write’, as Brian and Alison explain. For the recipient the positivity that comes from receiving a letter is undeniable, from holding it in your hands and evoking the senses with its tactile nature, offering an alternative to today’s digitally driven world. Plus, the act of writing can be just as good for the writer, with research showing how the routine of letter writing can increase levels of contentedness and lower instances of depression.
From Me to You’s website is filled with writing resources, toolkits and a community to help anyone interested in writing letters, including workshops and letter writing days, tips on what to write and handy opening lines. Alison and Brian have created a hub of expertise to guide you along experience. And as COVID-19 has left so many cancer patients even more isolated and vulnerable, the simple act of sending a letter is more needed than ever.
Want to get involved in another way? From Me to You also run their Donate A Letter campaign where people write anonymous letters which are distributed to cancer patients in hospitals across the UK. To be involved in this project, contact From Me to You here.
We all hope that we would never be in a situation where a loved one is diagnosed with cancer but with a multitude of reasons why letter writing can be beneficial to both the writer and recipient, it is easy to see how such a simple act can offer an individual suffering an isolating illness warmth, positivity and companionship.
If you’d like more information on From Me to You follow their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts for regular updates and posts.