Writing toward well-being - New article available

As part of our program of research on cancer survivorship, we recently conducted a pilot study of creative writing with 12 women who had experienced breast cancer.  Our findings have now been published in the Canadian Oncology Nursing Journal (CONJ).journal photo unsplash

Key themes were related to safe spaces, the seeking of permission to write, and fear/uncertainty.  As with our research on fostering hope and coping with lymphedema, the creation of a safe workshop space was connected to a variety of factors.  Interestingly, safe space is not limited to the physical location of any of the workshops we have facilitated across various projects.  Rather, safe spaces are also about process and even the provision of appropriate materials to enhance creativity.  With the writing study, some participants also felt that they needed to give themselves permission to write about negative experiences related to cancer, and that they also needed to give themselves permission to take the time from their busy lives to be creative.  Finally, participants showed that writing helped to relieve some of the fear and uncertainty associated with living with a chronic illness.

For more information about the study and our findings, download the article here.

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Findings from Creative Writing Pilot Study

Two of our Creative Practices Centre teams recently shared research findings with women who have experienced breast cancer and health professionals.

Our Creative Writing project was one of the studies we shared.  Women participated in writing workshops, wrote independently, and created collages as part of our program.  At our presentation, we discussed three key themes that emerged from our data which consisted of audiorecordings/transcripts of the workshops, photocopies of journal entries, and workshop evaluations, as well as collages which were photographed.  The background of the slides appearing here are snapshots of the some of the collages that the participants created.  The three themes are summarized in the following slides, but more information can be found in the full presentation (link appears below). 

Theme 1 creating safe spaces

The first theme is connected to ideas about safe spaces.  These spaces extended beyond the workshops and into the process of writing.  Such spaces provided participants with the opportunity to express emotions that they were not able to share with other people.

Theme 2 permission and balance

Some of the women felt they needed to give themselves permission to take the time to write and to adjust priorities, given the demands of work and caregiving, as the second theme illustrates.

Theme 3 fear and uncertainty

All of the participants expressed some anxiety about the future and fears of recurrence.  Writing provided opportunities for the women to develop a sense of strength, as well as acceptance about the uncertainties associated with breast cancer.

For more information and the complete presentation:


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What do Running & Creative Writing have to do with Breast Cancer?


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