Long-time "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek announced in March that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Within days, he offered thanks to "the hundreds of thousands of people who have sent emails, texts, tweets, and cards wishing me well regarded my health." Then last month, Trebek reported that his cancer was in "near remission," saying that his doctors "hadn't seen this kind of positive results in their memory."
Although the odds remain stacked against Trebek (advanced pancreatic cancer has a 3 percent 5-year survival rate), his experience raises an intriguing question: What are the benefits of such well wishes?
Greeting card industry statistics amply demonstrate the relevance of the question to most Americans: We buy about 6.5 billion greeting cards a year, and while birthdays constitute the number one occasion, "Get Well" cards figure heavily in the mix.