How Expressive Writing Helps Cancer Patients Cope

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Expressive writing can help cancer patients cope with their diagnosis. Studies have shown that writing expressively can act as a form of therapy. According to studies reported in an oncology journal, writing therapy can help cancer patients improve their physical quality of life within three short weeks. Cancer patients should try this form of therapy to improve their outlook on life and physical health.

What is Writing Expressively? Writing expressively allows writers to express their personal feelings by stating opinions and personal experiences. This type of writing does not focus on proper spelling, grammar or punctuation. Instead, it is intended to allow authors to get their thoughts on paper. This type of writing is often written in first person rather than third person and is about the writer.

Authors often use write expressively to express their individuality. In this type of writing, authors do not have to focus on grammar, but they cannot use incoherent sentences. People who have difficulty forming logical sentences may have language disorders. Language disorders can be addressed in a psychotherapy setting.

Writers can write about traumatic experiences and purge the thoughts regarding the experience. At the end of the exercise, patients reportedly feel better about expressing the thoughts on paper. Writing about the traumatic events can be difficult at first, but patients find that writing can be therapeutic and helpful.

How Writing Helps Writing can help to improve both psychological and physical well-being. According to The Oncologist, even one session of writing expressively can help to improve a person’s psychological well-being. Writing sessions require 20 minutes of writing to be effective. With psychological improvement, physical health also improves.

After polling 71 adult leukemia patients, 88 percent completed the writing portion of the tests and most found the exercise therapeutic. Studies showed that writing about facts provided no therapeutic effects, but writing about feelings and emotions about cancer did improve psychological well-being. Over half of the participants reported that the exercise changed their thoughts about their illness. Some people reported that cancer helped them to identify their gifts and talents in life. Others reported that writing gave them something to be thankful for in their lives. At some cancer treatment centers, such as Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center associated with Georgetown University Hospital, each new patient is given a journal to help them express their thoughts as a form of therapy. It is highly effective.

What Topics Should Patients Select? Every day patients should choose a new topic to write about and express how they feel in their journals. Writing can help patients cope with difficult aspects of cancer and other traumatic events. Rape victims may also benefit from writing. When the information is out on paper, patients can process their feelings and learn to re-channel their feelings into something positive.

Cancer patients may write about the chemotherapy or radiation treatments and how the treatments make them feel. Patients may also write about their experiences after the treatment and how they felt during recovery. Particularly difficult days can be written about to provide insight into the progress of the disease.

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