Healing with Words
I have just finished reading Diana Raab’s marvellous book Healing with Words. The inspiration to write this book came from the author’s having been diagnosed with two cancers in five years. Her diagnosis and surgery in 2001 came just weeks before 9/11 and instead of giving into mourning and despair, Raab turned to journaling for strength and support.
This book is part memoir, part practical writing guide. The author candidly shares her pain and disbelief that this was actually happening to her. Like me, there was no known history of breast cancer in her family and also like myself, she was diagnosed with DCIS, an early stage (but no less frightening for that) of breast cancer. So straight off, I identified with her. For me the book brought very vividly back to life those same feelings of disbelief at my own diagnosis. Interspersed with the story of Raab’s diagnosis and treatment, the book also offers the reader some of her poetry and her private journal entries, which made me reflect on my own experience.
This book really appeals to me, as I am an advocate for the transformative and healing power of journaling. I believe that writing is a wonderful therapy, getting your thoughts down on paper has power, power to heal, to makes sense of any experience you are going through. Journaling is one of the easiest and most powerful ways to accelerate your personal development. By getting your thoughts out of your head and putting them down in writing, you gain insights you’d otherwise never see. I love how the author describes “the very act of putting your words on the page (as) a productive way to ground you in your experience and give voice to your feelings.”
Raab found journaling through the experience of breast cancer a cathartic experience and she encourages the reader to take up the pen or strike the keys on the keyboard and do the same. To help you along she provides many encouraging writing prompts to help the reader deal with their own personal issues with a view to healing. At the end of each chapter, there is a workbook like space where the reader can actually put his/her thoughts on the same page as the writing prompt. So if you have been toying with the idea of writing about your cancer experience or indeed any of life’s experiences, or you are already in the habit of writing, then this book is for you!
As a final note, the proceeds from this book will be donated to the Mayo Clinic, a fitting and generous tribute from an author who concludes her book by writing that ” I try to wake up every morning happy to be alive and with joy in my heart..Being surrounded by joy brings joy and helps you move forward toward your dreams.”
About the Author
Diana M. Raab is an essayist, memoirist, poet and author blogger who teaches in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and at various conferences around the country.
She’s editor of the anthology, Writers and Their Notebooks (University of South Carolina Press, January 2010).
Her memoir, Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal (Beaufort Books, 2007) won the 2008 National Indie Excellence Award for Memoir and the 2009 Mom’s Choice Award for Adult Nonfiction.
She has three poetry collections, My Muse Undresses Me (2007), Dear Anaïs: My Life in Poems for You (2008), winner of The Reader Views Award and Allbooks Review Editor’s Choice, and The Guilt Gene (2009).
She’s the recipient of the Benjamin Franklin Book Award for best health and wellness book for Getting Pregnant and Staying Pregnant: Overcoming Infertility and High Risk Pregnancy which has been translated into French and Spanish. In 2009 the book was released in its 20th anniversary edition, under the title, Your High Risk Pregnancy: A Practical and Supportive Guide updated in collaboration with Dr. Errol Norwitz of Yale School of Medicine.
For more information, please visit her website: http://www.dianaraab.com.
Diana Raab is currently on a book tour and will be appearing later this month on the JBBC blog, when I will also be giving away a free copy of Healing with Words, so don’t miss this chance to “meet” with the author herself and be in with a chance to win the book.