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Writing on the 4th

Posted 7/3/2014

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 Today is July 3rd, and I posting a second blog, pretending that it is tomorrow. If you are a regular reader, you know that I occasionally post ahead when I know that a particular day is going to be busy or otherwise difficult for this purpose. In Maine, I am more wary about the 4th than I would otherwise be because the internet connection at our cottage is so bad, and it takes me so very much longer to accomplish this daily entry.

  The weather forecast, sadly for tomorrow is also not so good, and when it is cloudy, our satellite connection is even spottier and slower than usual. Today the sun is out, and things are going along fairly well, so I am taking advantage. If we get lucky with the weather tomorrow, our plan is to spend the day sailing.

 This is a nice essay from ASCO's CancerNet about the value of writing. For those of us who love language and are comfortable with this kind of self-expression or exploration, it is no surprise that a number of studies have confirmed the value of writing for cancer patients. It does not matter whether you ever show your work to anyone. The process of picking up a pen or sitting in front of a computer and letting your unedited thoughts flow is soothing and sometimes surprising. I hear from from women, who kept journals through their treatment, how valuable it is to go back and read them in the future. It is remarkable what we forget.

  Here is the beginning and a link:

The Power of Writing

Amber Bauer, ASCO staff

I have always believed in the power of the pen—as if you probably couldn’t already surmise that given my choice of profession. But first and foremost, writing has always been very personal. Since about the time I could string a series of sentences together, I have kept a journal. A couple of years ago, my mom finally made me clean out my childhood bedroom, and I found a stack of them, teeming with pages upon pages of my innermost thoughts—my highest highs and my lowest lows—as well as more angsty teenage poetry than I would care to admit. Still, flipping through these pages, I saw the way my younger self coped with the stress and confusion of growing up and saw the foundations of how I cope with the world and my life today.

For many people, keeping a journal is an easy way to express their feelings and document their journey. And as David Tabatsky showed last week, writing about something as stressful and difficult as cancer can be healing. In fact, there is scientific research showing that expressing your innermost thoughts and feelings can reduce stress and promote a range of other physical, emotional, and social benefits.

Early research into the benefits of expressive writing for people with cancer found that women with breast cancer who wrote about their deepest thoughts and feelings reported the fewest symptoms and had the fewest unscheduled visits to their doctors. A more recent study showed similar benefits in reducing symptoms and improving physical function for people with kidney cancer who did expressive writing exercises.


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