Playing "The Cancer Card" by collecting and distributing gift cards to cancer patients – 6,368 gifts to date


By on Mar 6, 2017 in cancer, oral cancer |

Spring 2007

“The biopsy came back. It is cancer.”

As luck would have it, I wasn’t even the one to hear these words first. My husband was, while in the middle of a round of golf. My doctor couldn’t reach me by phone, so he called my husband’s number. It was the day after Mothers Day.

A week or so before I had undergone a surgical biopsy of the suspicious ulcer-like spot on the side of my tongue. Oh, and I was pretty pregnant with our fourth son.

My husband called me and all I heard was cancer and MD Anderson and Houston and rescheduling the movers. Yeah, we were moving into a new house, too.

We moved and headed to MD Anderson 2 days later. We walked dazed through weeks of tests, appointments, blood work, ultrasounds, talk of chemo, radiation, premature birth risks and, ultimately, another surgery there.

Except one night. One night we went to dinner at a fun Mexican restaurant BECAUSE friends told us they had called ahead and there was a gift card waiting for us. We had a normal night out during a scary time.

Spring 2017

It never occurred to me 10 years ago that we would still be going to MD Anderson for biopsies, tests, appointments, blood work and ultrasounds, but we are. Two years ago, I had another surgery at MDA for a recurrence of my oral cancer. Again, my husband was the one who had to shoulder the news while I was still under anesthesia.

We have gone back every few months for checkups and scans. We will be there again next week for a two year post-surgery follow up. Thankful to be under the care of the same expert doctor. It is familiar, but never feels routine.

I’ve lost count of how many times in all we have made the trip to Texas in the last 10 years and it doesn’t really matter. We eat at that fun Mexican restaurant every single visit. My doctors and his staff have become our friends. And our fourth son is that cute, shortest one in this picture.

photo by Red Bardes


The Cancer Card Xchange is personal. 10 years ago, someone did something nice for me because I was facing cancer. So I decided to start doing nice things for people who are facing cancer. My hope is that some of those 2,000+ people have done something nice for someone. And that we can continue our mission to brighten the day of people facing cancer. What a chain reaction of kindness and generosity!

Overwhelmed with gratitude,

Emily Tickle Thomas