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).
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.