The power of words

By: Jennifer Pretty Oct 02, 2012
Dear Deb

Cancer. Few words are as recognizable as this one. Everyone is touched by this word.

Heinous as cancer is, it does some things little else has the power to accomplish. It has the uncanny ability to heal broken hearts, mend fractured relationships, bring people together who have little else in common with one another, to bring about introspection, stamp out vulnerability and to necessitate acceptance and humility.

I came across this article that tells the story of a friendship that developed between two women. There is an interesting twist to the story, which is why I felt so compelled to write about it this week.

It All Started with a Few Kind Words

Deb and Margaret met through church and they became what they termed, “faith friends.” Not long after their friendship began, Deb was diagnosed with incurable lung cancer. In her attempt to distract Deb from the ravages of the disease, Margaret started writing letters with short inspirational messages to Deb.

As Deb’s health took a turn for the worse, Margaret began to wonder how fearful Deb must be. Suddenly her short bursts of hopeful epistles somehow felt trite and clichéd. As Margaret puts it, “Her reality made me want to send letters about real things; things I’d never told anyone. Painful things, big mistakes, things filled with wonder.” She continues, about “…my dad coming in and out of our lives and my mom’s mental illness… about life… All I knew was that I had to write her something every day.”

As Margaret wrote to Deb, Deb shared Margaret’s letters with other faith friends of hers – many who lived in parts of the world that Margaret had only seen on maps. Just as Margaret had been doing, “so many people had been praying for Deb those six months, believing in her miracle, and I realized we were all connected because of her letters. People wrote me about their struggles with illness and loss as they connected with my stories. They shared their search for hope and some talked of their own miracles… It was that connection that made me see that healing can happen in vulnerability… and that gave me the courage to fulfil the promise I made to Deb.”

With letters written to Deb about things Margaret had secreted away which included “a brush with shoplifting, divorce, drug addiction, a 20-year estrangement from a parent and other family difficulties,” weeks before she passed away, Deb encouraged Margaret to turn the letters into a book.

“I want you to know that if my illness inspired you to write these stories, the cancer was worth it."  —Deb

Getting the permission of her sons and the numerous people written about in these letters to Deb, in her passing, Deb was able to perform the ultimate selfless act. “Deb’s illness gave me the chance to press my face against the window of my life, and what I saw was startling – I saw miracles that had been waiting for me to give them a voice.”

Called Dear Deb, Margaret’s memoir is available through Amazon. You can also find Dear Deb at your local bookstore or Chapters. For more information On Dear Deb and Margaret Terry, please visit her website or Facebook page. 


Until next time,

Peace, love and vitamin C!


Jennifer Pretty began her career as the director of artist development for a well-known Canadian music label. Branching out on her own, she then started her own PR business “Pretty Media Management” planning and hosting various charity, entertainment and fashion events. As a dance and fitness class enthusiast Jennifer is a firm believer in the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. She also loves to cook, travel, spend time with family and friends and most importantly living life to the fullest!