Write Your Way Through Cancer Treatment


For many people, writing is therapy. When you write your thoughts down, it’s easier to express feelings that may be difficult to say out loud. Journaling is a form of writing where you keep a regular record of your thoughts, experiences and observations. For most of us, a journal is a private way of communicating with our inner selves. It’s a diary, all-grown-up.

It’s easy to start keeping a journal.

  • Figure out where you’re going to capture your thoughts. A beautifully designed notebook? A file on your computer? A simple pad of paper or stack of index cards?

  • Find a place and time to write each day. Some people find that writing in the morning helps them prepare for the day ahead; others that writing after dinner helps them process their days.

  • Write something every day, even if it’s just a single sentence.

  • Date each entry to help anchor the memory.

  • Don’t judge or edit what you write. It’s for your eyes only.

Anything Goes

There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to journal. Your journal is whatever you want it to be. It can be a letter to yourself, a summary of your day, a record of your feelings, hopes and fears.

Here are a few ideas to help you get going:

  • Start with one word – your emotion for the day. Then describe why you feel that way.

  • Jot down the main things that happened today. What did you do? Where did you go? Who did you see?

  • Write down the things you are grateful for. Did you find any silver linings today?

  • Write down the things you’re worried about. You don’t always have to be positive, and writing can help you work through the worry.

  • Record everything that’s on your mind in a stream of consciousness. No editing, just writing.

  • Draw a doodle or a picture that goes with your day.

  • Scribble down a quote or verse you found meaningful.

Taming Your Night Demons

Do you find thoughts and fears tumbling around in your head when you’re trying to sleep? You’re not alone. Keep a journal – or even a stack of sticky notes – by your bed. If you can’t sleep, write down the things that are keeping you awake. Get them on paper and out of your head. Chances are you’ll find them easier to manage in the morning.

Through journaling, you’ll discover how strong you’ve been and how much you’ve grown.

Benefits of Journaling

Research shows that writing for as little as 20 minutes a month for three months has long-lasting emotional and physical benefits. Journaling can help you get more rest and adjust to a diagnosis of cancer.

When you write your way through treatment, you’ll be able to retrace your steps down the road and see how far you’ve come. You’ll discover how strong you’ve been and how much you’ve grown. Which is a gift in itself.