Writing Through Cancer is an online resource designed to encourage anyone living with cancer, debilitating illness or difficult life circumstance, to write out of that experience.
Why write from the pain and struggle that comes with cancer or other life difficulties? Studies have shown it can actually be good for you. When you repress emotions and silence your stories, your ability to heal is weakened. Writing offers you the safety to unearth and express all that you think and feel. When you begin to shape those thoughts and feelings into stories or poems, it helps you to make sense of things and to cope more effectively with the emotional roller coaster that a cancer diagnosis can trigger.
Writing is also a form of creative self-expression readily available to anyone who wants to do it. You don’t need a special place or a lot of special materials. You can write almost anywhere: at home, on the train, in a waiting room, or at a cafe. All you need is a pen, paper or a laptop and the freedom to express what resides in your heart and mind. The prompts can serve as a way to get started or be the inspiration for a poem or story.
The weekly writing prompts featured on Writing Through Cancer are inspired out of my personal experience with cancer, my two books and the many writing groups I’ve led over the past thirteen years for patients, survivors and caretakers–men and women whose lives have been touched by cancer, hardship or loss. Little by little, the word has spread, and the numbers of individuals who regularly visit this site has grown. Whether your life has been affected by cancer or you are struggling with some other serious illness or painful life situation, you’ll find most of the prompts are adaptable to any life circumstance and to anyone who wants to write for healing purposes.
Here’s how it works: Each week, I post a writing prompt designed to inspire your stories or poems that arise out of your cancer experience. Each prompt will be available on the site for one year, allowing you to refer back to them or even use the same prompt to write something different or expanded upon from your first effort.
I hope that you’ll find some inspiration and encouragement from the prompts, and that they offer you a gentle nudge to write and discover its healing benefits.
Best wishes from Sharon
(Content is copyrighted, 2013, by Sharon A. Bray, Ed.D., unless otherwise stated. Permission is required to cite or use, in part or whole, any of the author’s posts on this site. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sharon Bray, Ed.D.
I’m a writer, teacher and author of two books on the healing power of writing during cancer: When Words Heal: Writing Through Cancer (Frog Books, 2006) and A Healing Journey: Writing Together through Breast Cancer (Amherst Writers Press, 2004). In 2007, I co-edited, together with Pat Fobair, LCSW, Learning to Live Again, an anthology of cancer patients’ writing published by the Stanford University School of Medicine. I founded and led the writing program, “Writing Through Cancer” at Breast Cancer Connections, Palo Alto from 2001-2007, and later, at the Stanford Cancer Center from 2004 until September 2013). Now based in San Diego, I lead expressive writing groups for men & women with cancer at Scripps Green Cancer Center, and UCSD Moores Cancer Center in La Jolla, CA, and continue to lead three one-day writing retreats for The Writers’ Workshop at Stanford Medical School for faculty, students and staff of the Stanford Medical School, a series I began leading in 2005. Since 2003, I’ve taught an annual week-long summer course, “Writing as a Healing Ministry,” at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA, and since 2007, online classes in transformative writing and creative nonfiction for the UCLA extension Writers’ Program. My professional affiliations include the Global Alliance for Arts & Health, Arts & Health Network of Canada and the Transformative Language Arts Network.