for when you’ve been diagnosed

Hello my dear,

It is hard to be the person who just got the diagnosis. It feels surreal and terrible, and I’m sorry that it’s you. I really am. 

Your world has been reordered. You are now at the center of a universe that you weren’t trying to create. But it’s not your fault that things are different now. It will be difficult to ask for the care you deserve. It will be difficult to remember that you are not the bad thing. I know things have changed, but that doesn’t mean you’re less you.

Below you’ll find a small care package we put together to love, support, and encourage you when you’re facing difficult medical news. Or maybe someone you love has been recently diagnosed and you want to be a support. We hope these resources will be of some use and, in the meantime, sending you so much love.

Bless you,

a blessing for
you who feel like the bad thing

Blessed are you who try to hide your humanity.
You who temper your complaints,
who avoid mentioning your next appointment,
who pretend you are doing better than you are
to make reality a little more palatable for others.
You, who try and try and try to make yourself easier to love, easier to be around, easier to manage.

But, dear one, blessed are you
because you are not the bad thing.
Your illness or grief or despair or addiction is not too much. It’s just your humanity showing.

And blessed are we who get to see it up close.

Who, despite our own fears and reminders of our finitude, get to hold your hand as you face each day with courage as you face things you didn’t choose. It is this kind of courageous living—
the kind that shows all the shabby edges—
that we are so thankful to see up close.

You, blessed one, remind us that life is so beautiful and life is so hard.
And we feel lucky for the privilege to do life with you—no matter how difficult, no matter how messy.

You are not the bad thing.
You are a gift.
And we love every bit of you.

Be the first to know when we release a new resource like this one.


So you’ve been diagnosed. What now? 

It’s hard to be the person who just got the diagnosis.


The Toll of a Diagnosis: A Conversation on Life, Death, and Healing

There are so many people whose lives are impacted by a difficult diagnosis. Kate had the chance to talk to cancer advocate and journalist superstar Katie Couric about it. This lovely mini-documentary talks with a patient (Kate), a widow, and a death doula about the toll a diagnosis takes.


If you need a reminder that you are not the bad thing or you would like to pass this reminder along to someone you love, click on the image. Then save, print, or set as your phone wallpaper. 

“Seeing pain up close can give you an experience of awe. It’s like seeing a garment turned inside out and all the rough seams are showing. You see someone’s absolute humanity shine through all the pain, and that vulnerability makes them more, not less, beloved.”

—From Kate’s conversation with writer Suleika Jaouad on the Everything Happens Podcast


You are not the Bad Thing

In an American culture that is obsessed with individualism and an exhausting triumphalism, we need each other. We belong to each other. The fact that we are delicate is nothing to hide. So, no, you are not hard to love. You are not too much. You are not the bad thing.


When Breath Becomes Air by Dr. Paul Kalanithi

This poignant memoir finds hope and beauty in the face of insurmountable odds as an idealistic young neurosurgeon attempts to answer the question: What makes a life worth living?


Everything Happens for a Reason (And Other Lies I’ve Loved) by Kate Bowler

Kate attempts to reconcile chronic cancer in a society that insists everything happens for a reason. Even when we are  stripped of certainty we may recognize that life is hard but beautiful in a way it never has been before.


Barbara Brown Taylor:
Life After Dark

For when you want someone to acknowledge the pain


John Green:
Chronic Not Curable

For when the healing takes longer than planned


David Fajgenbaum:
Hope Wears Sneakers

For when you need a boost of hope


Sunita Puri:
The Uncertainty Specialist

For “new language for walking the borderlands” around pain and sickness


BJ Miller: Loving What Is

For when patience is hard to come by


When Your Child is Diagnosed

Kate’s mom wrote this essay about what it is like when your child is the one who is diagnosed.


If you are someone who has been recently diagnosed, consider this:

1. If you find yourself a citizen of the kingdom of the sick, first, let me say: I am so sorry this happened to you. This is not fair. This is just awful. I wish I could take it all away. Writer Susan Sontag distinguished between the “Kingdom of the Sick” and the “Kingdom of the Well.” How would you describe the kingdom of the sick? 

2. Everything does not happen for reasons we can easily determine or assign to others. Do you feel pressure from others or yourself or maybe your faith to find purpose in your pain? 

3. Who is a safe person to show your humanity to? Someone who will be able to hold your hand and who will listen without giving you false hope or try to fix it? How can you ask for what you need this week? Reach out today.