Creative Medicine: Journaling Through Cancer Treatment

1 year 5 months ago
Posted under Living with Cancer

A cancer diagnosis and the ups and downs of cancer treatment can be a tumultuous time emotionally. You will need strategies to help you manage these emotions-the good, the bad, and the sad. Journaling can be the perfect way to express yourself and promote your emotional well-being. It can help you cope with feelings and process your diagnosis. Some studies show that people who journal regularly see benefits to their physical well-being, too. If you think journaling may be right for you, here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Choose your format.

You can journal any way you choose! Some people prefer to do a stream of consciousness, meaning writing whatever comes to mind without restrictions. Others prefer to do line-a-day journaling or bullet journaling to quickly jot down events, reactions, and goals.

Journaling doesn’t have to be just putting pen and paper. Some other options include keeping a private or public blog, video journaling, or scrapbooking. Anything that allows you to express yourself creatively and let out negative feelings and anxiety is helpful.  

Use prompts for inspiration.

Find yourself staring at a blank page or screen? Try using prompts to get you started. Visit your local bookstore or craft store. Many journals with built in prompts and questions are available. You can also find prompts online. Pinterest is a great place to find prompts! Here are a few sample prompts to get you started:

  • How has a cancer diagnosis changed your goals or outlook on life?
  • Is there anything you wish you could you tell your younger self?
  • Make a list of 20 things that make you happy.
  • Who inspires you and why?

Try a journaling workshop.

If you would like to share your writing or read the writing of fellow cancer survivors, visit a journaling workshop. Through a workshop, you can also receive feedback on your writing if you choose to share. Cancer Support Community and its affiliates often provide journaling workshops at their clubhouses. CancerCare proves an online writing workshop for cancer survivors called Healing With Words.

Set aside time for journaling every day.

To reap the full benefits of journaling, try to set aside some time for journaling every day. Choose a comfortable environment with few distractions. Many people find early morning or an hour or so before bed as the best times to write. The more your write the more comfortable you will become with writing and the more you will learn about yourself.

Don’t worry about perfection.

Journaling is supposed to be stress reliving, not anxiety inducing. Although it’s best to get into a habit, don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day or two…or three. When you are writing, don’t get caught up in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. The most important thing is to get the words out. If you must, you can always proofread later.


Learn more about journaling at these links:

Journaling Your Way Through Cancer- MD Anderson

The Power of Writing- Cancer.Net


Abby Henry