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From Me to You; letter writing and cancer

12 Apr 2021

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We are delighted to have Alison Hitchcock, the founder of the charity From Me to You, share more about their work. 

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 group who really understand the emotive power of letters and the positive effects receiving them can bring, is the charity From Me to You.

Set up by Alison Hitchcock and Brian Greenley (pictured right), From Me to You was developed as a result of Brian being diagnosed with bowel cancer; In a bid to help him through his treatment, Alison began writing letters to him, 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, family and strangers suffering from cancer.
Their Donate A Letter scheme invites us all to write anonymous letters which the charity then delivers to hospitals and to people at home. The letters are designed to alleviate some of the isolation so often experienced, give a boost and quite simply distract from the day to day reality. 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 Happy Box is where anyone living with cancer can dip in and request a letter. Letters are sent out monthly or you can just request one whenever you feel in need of a boost.

Happy Box letter recipients happily share their experience with the charity.

The letters have been wonderful to receive, I’ve had some very tough times over the last couple of months with the news that the cancer has spread despite chemotherapy, the letters always seem to arrive when I’m having a really bad day. (Donna)

“I have applied for letters before. I’ve received two so far. I can’t tell you how uplifted and encouraged I feel after receiving a letter. Thank you so much for all you do.” (Jeff)

“When I read the letter, just for that moment I felt normal.’ (L

Many letter recipients turn into writers for the Donate A Letter scheme, wanting to give the same comfort they have received. Alison encourages anyone currently receiving letters to also write if they feel they would like to. From Me to You’s website is filled with writing resources, toolkits and a community to help anyone interested in writing letters, including online workshops, tips on what to write and handy opening lines. Alison and Brian have created a hub of expertise to guide you along the 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.

We all know how difficult a cancer diagnosis is to deal with 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.

Twitter: @frommetoyou01

Facebook: FromMeToYouLetters

Instagram: FromMeToYouLetters