Writing as Therapy

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Therapists and counsellors are increasingly encouraging the practise of journaling to supplement therapy.

Writing it down is like letting it out. Release your fears and anxieties and you’ll often be amazed at how that diminishes their power, set free your hopes and dreams and see if they grow in the light. Make a gratitude list, and keep adding to it. Address your cancer, your body, your doctors – say all the things you don’t feel you can utter out loud.

Longhand, shorthand, typed, drawn, doodled. Lists, records, poems, random words, letters, blogs, fiction, cartoon strips. Moleskine notebooks, legal pads, scrap books, Airbook, phone, giant sheets of paper, tiny Post-Its. For your friends and family, for anonymous strangers, for your therapist or for your eyes only. There is no right or wrong way to record your thoughts, dreams and fears. There is only the way which works for you.

Reading about other people’s cancer journey and how they write it can be as therapeutic. And serve as inspiration to start writing your own.

British novelist Frances Burney could be one of the first recorded examples. She wrote a detailed account of her mastectomy in a letter to her sister, 9 months after the operation which she underwent without anaesthetic in 1811. (link: http://newjacksonianblog.blogspot.com/2010/12/breast-cancer-in-1811-fanny-burneys.html)

Locally, Beverly Rycroft published her poetry anthology, Missing (link: http://www.kalahari.com/Books/Missing_p_38135710), after her diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer. Read some extracts here. (link:http://peonymoon.wordpress.com/2010/07/12/beverly-rycrofts-missing/)

And this, equal parts amusing and wry, Open Letter to the Mammogram Machine at Beth Israel Hospital (link: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/an-open-letter-to-the-mammogram-machine-at-beth-israel-hospital)A woman called Melinda wrote a poignant and funny Letter to My Boob (link: http://community.breastcancer.org/topic_post?forum_id=91&id=741285&page=2 ) on an online American Breast Cancer Discussion Board.

There are countless blogs, writings and similar projects initiated by cancer patients online. Seek them out and explore ways to find your own voice.

Keeping a diary of your emotions, however you chose to do it, is often cited as an integral part of a Patient Active Approach (link: http://www.cscpasadena.org/about-us/our-history/patient-active-concept) to managing diagnosis and treatment for cancer.

Write. Explore.Voice. Heal.

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