Writing to Cope with Cancer

Last updated: September 2020

Hearing the words, "You have cancer," is like getting a punch in the gut. Your feelings can go from shock to disbelief, anger, and even depression. What can you do with all those emotions? Bottling them up is not a good thing. One thing that some people find helpful is to write about their disease.

Writing can benefit patients and caregivers

Keeping a diary can be so therapeutic. Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help to relieve some of the stress you are going through. If you are a caregiver helping your loved one to get better, writing may also help you to keep track of everything that needs to be done, as well as giving you an outlet to express your emotions. Many people take up blogging as a way for them to relieve their stress or share updates with loved ones, while others keep a journal. Some people even write for a site! Whatever you decide to do, getting your thoughts and feelings out is really helpful.

Knowing you’re not alone

My daughter, Crystal, started writing about her blood cancer journey not long after finding out about her diagnosis. She is a local meteorologist so she is a public figure in her area. Crystal started blogging as a way to share updates about her health with her job and with her viewers. If you aren't familiar, blogging is an online version of writing and allows people with similar interests or concerns to share their thoughts, feelings, and stories. It also allows people to respond, so, sometimes, a bond is formed between people who share an interest or, in this case, a disease.

What Crystal found is that it helped her to get her feelings out as she wrote them down on paper. She was then able to move on from them and feel better emotionally. It also let her see that she was not alone. This period in her life was tough, as many of you know, and blogging helped her to better understand her own feelings and hear from others who shared similar thoughts.

Connecting with others helped her to realize there were other people out there that were going through and feeling the same things she was. Crystal had felt so isolated at first, and after sharing her story, she realized she was not alone. She no longer had to feel as isolated as she did at first. The other nice thing that happened is she made a few online friends that she still keeps in contact with. Crystal is better now, but blogging has allowed her to look back at that time and see how far she has come.

Finding your own way to cope

Blogging isn’t for everyone, as many people do not want to share their feelings with others. Some of us do not even want to talk about our feelings with others, even if they are family or friends. But keeping all of our emotions bottled up is not healthy. Finding some kind of an outlet is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your health.

What works for me is taking a walk and talking to myself about whatever issue I have going on. This serves two purposes. I get some exercise and I get my feelings out. I always feel better when I’m done. I realize this option doesn’t work for some. It couldn’t have worked for Crystal because she was very sick a lot of the time and so wasn’t up to taking a walk or any other type of physical activity. After seeing a few blogs, she knew this was what she wanted to do and, for her, it was very therapeutic. Whatever you decide, get your feelings out in some way. It will help you on your healing journey.

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