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.
Buy Healing with Words on Amazon.com
Marie thank you for the wonderful post! I have been struggling with the disbelief that I have been diagnosed with cancer. It is as if in my mind I ignore it will all go away.
Then today I was listening to a pastor who talked about getting paralized by past pain. I didn’t really think the diagnosis was causing me pain but I guess it is. Then when you used the word disbelief I thought “Ahha that is what is going on.”
I was ready to quit writing about my journey because if I quit than maybe it will go away. Sounds like this is a book that I need to pick up! Thanks!
Oh Luann, don’t stop writing about it.. in fact one of the things the author says in her book is when it hurts write harder!
I agree with Luann, another great post. Thanks for introducing us to another author. It continual amazes me how long it takes to process and heal after you have walked through the cancer journey. Your words have encouraged me that the writing I am doing is more than just “vomit” for the world to read, it is really helping me process the blessings and the pain of a tough journey. Thank you for all you do!
Thank you Kim. As I have said so many times, I am not doing this in isolation. I continue to be inspired by you, Luann and all the others out there who share with such fearless honesty where this journey with cancer takes them..to the places of dark and light.
Loved this post and the comments of Luann and Kim too.
Sounds like a terrific book..I must check it out..I presume it is available on Amazon?
Great post. I know that my journal is my life line too and I couldn’t have gotten through many of the tough life experiences I have faced without its support.
I am not sure who said it, but the quote that springs to mind when reading this post is “writing is exploration; and most of the time, I’m surprised where the journey takes me”
I am inspired by this author and your post to start journaling especially as you write that it is” one of the easiest and most powerful ways to accelerate your personal development.”
I am struck by what Luann has to say on stopping writing. I agree with Marie Luann..don’t! Journaling about traumatic events helps you process them by fully exploring and releasing the emotions involved, and by engaging both hemispheres of the brain in the process, allows the experience to become fully integrated in your mind.
That’s it! You have inspired me to start journaling today!
I will be looking forward to Diana appearing on your blog as part of her tour.
Yet another thought provoking blog.
To me, the pivotal quote is when the author says, “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.”
To be honest, it is easier said than achieved. Confronting one’s self by their most feared emotions and thoughts are not the easiest of tasks. There is always a probability of escaping easy from the harsh truth and embalm an already scoured heart, mind and soul with a diluted version of truth.
I perceive writing fearlessly as an action suggestive of confronting our innermost fears and releasing it from our mental confines. For what the mind is not afraid of, the body doesn’t fear.
Somnath, once again, a perceptive and enriching comment – thank you.
I loved this post and the comments were for enlightening too.
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Thanks for these wonderful book reviews. We all need more inspiring pieces to read. This fits the bill.