Jamie heard the words, “You have cancer” over a decade ago. She became a member of Gilda’s Club, and, while perusing the library one day, found a book about the healing power of writing groups. “While I was in chemo, I thought, ‘I need something to look forward to,” she remembers. So, she decided to travel to California to take a week-long training through Amherst Writers & Artists.
While there, she learned, “It’s not about being a ‘good’ writer. It’s about connecting with yourself and connecting with other people.” It was after this training that the “Write to Heal” workshops at Gilda’s Club were born.
“We applaud each other, we cry with each other, we support each other”
Jamie has been the volunteer leading these workshops at Gilda’s Club for over a decade, but they really took off during the pandemic. Demand continues to grow for the virtual monthly workshops, with 12-14 members attending consistently.
Each month’s workshop includes a writing prompt. The prompt could be a question like, “What was it like the moment of your diagnosis?” Attendees can choose to follow the prompt, or they can free write. Afterwards, they are able to share what they’ve written.
Jamie shares that attendees are very comfortable sharing what they’ve written. “Everyone is so attentive to what everyone is sharing. They really listen.” The sharing portion allows them to reflect on their shared experiences.
It’s this sharing portion that has bonded the group into a tight-knit community. “The tears come, the support is there. We applaud each other, we cry with each other, we support each other,” Jamie explains.
Gilda’s Club member Rachel has been one of the regular attendees of “Write to Heal.” She shares, “The Gilda’s Club writing group has been one of the single most helpful things for my mental health since diagnosis. It’s been a space where I’ve developed skills and processed emotions I didn’t even know I had.” In fact, Rachel has gone on to have one of her pieces published in the national magazine “Elephants and Tea,” a publication focused on the experiences of young adults touched by cancer.
Ultimately, Write to Heal is another way that Gilda’s Club members are able to come together, heal, and form connections during their cancer journey. Jamie shares, “Writing is a transformative activity that does allow us to heal. It’s powerful because of the way that we connect our words to each other. It doesn’t have to be perfect- it’s about that connection. That knowing we’re not alone. And that’s what Gilda’s is all about.”
Thank you for making programs like “Write to Heal” possible! If you are interested in learning more about how you can support creative endeavors for Gilda’s Club members, contact Lindsey at email@example.com.