Writing Your Cancer Journey
“Sharing what you’re really thinking and feeling with others who understand helped me move on.” - Cancer Survivor
The Transformative Power of Writing through Cancer
Eleven years ago Ali Meyers had just undergone surgery for colon cancer and was about to start chemotherapy. She was looking for support and found a class through Stanford Cancer Supportive Services called Writing Your Cancer Journey. She stayed with the group for the next several years and knows it was an integral part of her treatment and healing. Ms. Meyers, who has a background in social work, group therapy, writing and teaching, was so impressed with the power of writing that she completed additional training and became the group facilitator in 2013. She has been leading the group ever since.
“Participants are so vulnerable when they come to the group,” says Ms. Meyers. “They are literally fighting for their lives; and facing one’s mortality so immediately triggers a host of emotions and thoughts that many people would prefer to leave alone. Patients may be overwhelmed with the side effects of treatment, the uncertainty of their diagnosis, and the often tumultuous impact of cancer on their lives. So, it’s difficult to show up and express what’s going on inside; yet, this is the very thing that often leads to great healing, comfort, and transformation.”
Shaping and Sharing Narratives
According to Ms. Meyers, participants get to write, or re-write, their experiences. “The power of shaping one’s own narrative cannot be underestimated,” says Ms. Meyers.
Writing group participants are invited to respond to writing prompts and share their responses if they would like. The group responds with positive feedback. One of the group’s participants stresses the importance of this group in her own recovery from cancer:
“Sometimes you can’t share what you’re really thinking and feeling with your family, friends and the doctors who are treating you. In the group I could write about some of my fears, my grief and my anger. Everyone understood. For me, the writing group is what held me together during my treatment and helped me move on after everything was over.”