Thursday, September 30, 2010

Using Your Gift of Writing to Fight Cancer (WOW-Women on Writing Blanket Tour )

I wrote today's post as part of the WOW-Women on Writing Blanket Tour for Healing with Words: A Writer's Cancer Journey by Diana M. Raab, MFA, RN (  The book includes Diana's experiences, reflections, poetry and journal entries, in addition to writing prompts for readers to express their own personal stories.  A survivor of both breast cancer and multiple myeloma, Raab views journaling to be like a daily vitamin--in that it heals, detoxifies and is essential for optimal health.

Diana, the author of eight books, spent 25 years as a medical and self-help writer before turning to poetry and memoir.  She teaches creative journaling and memoir in UCLA Extension Writers' Program.

If you comment on today's post you'll be entered to win a copy of Healing with Words:  A Writer's Cancer Journey.  To read Diana's post about breast cancer and a list of other blogs participating in Diana's Blanket Tour visit The Muffin.

                                       Using Your Gift of Writing to Fight Cancer

We all have God-given gifts and we as writers can use these talents to report, inform, entertain, encourage and spread hope to our readers.  We all know someone who has been diagnosed with some form of cancer and here are some ways you as a writer can take advantage of your profession and use your gifts to fight this disease:

*The gift of time:
Writing is basically a home-based business and with laptop and the use of other technology, or just a pen and tablet we can write anywhere.  Having this flexibility of my time, I have been able to arrange my writing hours to accompany my best friend, my mother, and my husband to doctors’ appointments, and treatments. Depending on the person’s wishes and permission from medical staff, I have accompanied my friends and family members into just about every type of screening test-treatment that exists.  I have worn gowns, lead-shields, ear plugs, shoe coverings, and masks; and slept on couches, chairs, and even a hospital bed so I could be there for my loved ones.

*The gift of listening-interviewing-advocating:
Writers are good at posing questions that others may not have thought to ask.  Persons with cancer are often so overwhelmed with the entire experience, that they cannot remember all that is said or their care instructions.  You can be that extra “pair of ears,” to help your loved one understand the medical jargon; and write a summary of the doctors’ directions for him or her.  You can also be her-his advocate, to ensure medical staff will follow their wishes.

*The gift of research:
As most writers are good at researching facts for their fiction and nonfiction projects, you can help people find the best doctors and treatments for their cancer.  When one surgeon wanted to remove most of my husband’s colon because of possible pre-cancerous polyps, my research found a surgeon with less-invasive methods.

*The gift of writing:
--When two of my closest women-friends died of lung cancer (neither they nor their husbands ever smoked), I interviewed medical researchers and wrote an article on some new research findings.

--I love a “cause,” like my great-grandmother who was a writer-poet and suffragette.  I regularly write “snail mail” letters to politicians, urging them to fund more cancer research.

--We can write press releases for nonprofits' upcoming events or to help them get grants for funding.

--We can help persons with cancer in writing their memoirs; or as with Diana M. Raab, our featured author, we can journal and share our experiences in battling cancer.

How will you use your writing gifts to help us win the battle against cancer?

* * *

                                               What I Never Knew about Cancer…

I never knew…that cancer could strike anyone, at any age or time in his or her lives, no matter what their physical condition.

I never knew…that so many others have also suffered along with their loved ones and friends who have contracted some type of cancer.

I never knew…that cancer is an alien in disguise, fooling one’s body into thinking it is developing friendly cells, when all along it is insidiously robbing the body of its nourishment, its dignity, its very life.

I never knew…we spend billions of dollars on weapons of war, and so very little on
research to develop tests to detect cancer before it gets a death grip that cannot be loosened by any number of medicines or treatments.

I never knew…there were so many compassionate and caring medical professionals and
aides who bring comfort and support to not only their patients with cancers but to their family and friends as well.  And they do this today and every day during both work and after work hours.

I never knew…how many people—friends, relatives, neighbors, church members, and
those who never even met the person with cancer—will visit, call, send letters and cards.  And not just once, but over and over again to let that person know she or he are in their prayers as well as the family members caring for that person.

I never knew…that even in the “dying days” there could be laughter in exchanging
personal anecdotes, watching “chick flicks” and reading “Howard Huge” and “Garfield” comics, eating DQ ice cream and animal crackers at 3 AM in the morning; and sharing the tales of grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s accomplishments and antics.

I never knew…that God could be so close to a person with cancer and to those who
love her.  He eases the pain and suffering and takes her hand as they walk
into Heaven, while laying His other hand on the bowed heads of her loved ones
to comfort them in their grief as they say their “Good-byes.”

I never knew…that cancer really does not “win,” but is soundly defeated by God’s love and by all those who care.  With their courage, and with God’s support, some day… people will be able to say, “I never knew there was something called Cancer!!”
Ó2002 Priscilla Y. Huff in memory of her mother, Helen, thyroid cancer, her mother-in-law, Gladys, colon cancer; Aunt Betty, breast cancer. And dear friends, The Revered Pamela A. Chomitzky, lung cancer; Joan, lung cancer. AND to Caren, my sister-in-law and courageous breast cancer survivor.


  1. Fabulous post!

    Let's all do what we can to promote early detection and treatment of breast cancer during October Breast Cancer Awareness month.

    Thanks for mentioning my book, HEALING WITH WORDS, which I hope will help many women.

    Diana Raab

  2. Very moving first post in the tour. Well done :) Thank you for sharing your time and experiences.

  3. I love the way you've highlighted ways to use a writer's natural gifts to asssist in the fight against cancer. Sometimes you feel helpless to make any difference; I love your point that one's talents can be put to use.

  4. What a beautifully written post. I always have my mammogram screenings in October, not because it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month but because my birthday falls early in the month. Yesterday, though, I went because I found two lumps in one breast. My doctor feels they're too close to the skin to be anything more than calcifications, but I won't rest easy until the test results come back. Suddenly, cancer doesn't seem like a faceless demon that possesses others.

    Thanks for using your gift to promote cancer awareness. And thanks for this very moving post.

    All my best,
    My blog: One Significant Moment at a Time

  5. That extra pair of ears is very necessary - I heard - in your case the treatment of choice is mastectomy - and his mouth went on moving, but I heard nothing more.