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Free therapeutic writing class offered to cancer patients

Kathleen Adams, a registered poetry and journal therapist, will lead an online class in therapeutic writing for local current or past cancer patients starting Thursday.
Courtesy photo

Fighting any cancer is difficult, yet for a woman fighting breast cancer, the medical struggles may be heightened by emotional feelings that threaten a woman’s sense of femininity.

Writing about the cancer experience through a guided process may help, as studies show writing about cancer in a purposeful way is healing and can reduce emotional and physical symptoms, said Kathleen Adams, a registered poetry and journal therapist and director of the Center for Journal Therapy in Wheat Ridge.

Adams is partnering with UCHealth Jan Bishop Cancer Center in Steamboat Springs to offer a free, four-week online therapeutic writing class, called “Writing Your Cancer Story,” which starts Thursday. The class is free to former or current patients of the local cancer center through the financial support of the memorial Susan de Wardt Therapeutic Writing Program.



Adams is teaching in honor of her longtime friend, Steamboat Springs resident, engineer, teacher, writer, artist and certified journal and poetry facilitator Susan de Wardt, who died in 2018 after a three-year fight with peritoneal cancer.

“Telling a story helps create a coherent narrative out of a chaotic experience,” Adams said.



Adams said the text-based, online, weekly classes are facilitated, but the work is self directed by the participants each week in order to fit around schedules and possible health issues. She said writing as a healing strategy and a cancer therapy can be cathartic and comforting.

“Having the constant presence of a journal that does not judge is very soothing, comforting and in many cases, healing,” Adams said. “Writing is wonderful for tracking patterns and cycles and observing health enhancing behaviors.”

If you go

What: Writing Your Cancer Story, a four-week online therapeutic writing class taught by Kathleen Adams, professional journal therapist

When: Oct. 28 to Nov. 24

More info: sanaya.sturm@uchealth.org or 970-871-2464

Participants in the class will learn the benefits of guided expressive writing in community, the four pillars of well-being and how they are represented in a cancer journey, how to safely and creatively write about the cancer journey, and journal writing techniques and strategies that can be repurposed for other life events.

In addition to the patient-centered writing course starting this month, the cancer center is offering two free, video-based classes for family caregivers of cancer patients. Caregiver participants can take the class in a self-guided format currently or can sign up for facilitated classes planned for early 2022. No specific writing experience is needed.

The caregiver classes include the six-week “Five Minutes to Self-Care” with national caregiving expert Lori Lemasters for full-time family caregivers who have primary responsibility for a loved one, as well as the five-week “Simple Stress Release for Family Caregivers” with Adams for part-time family caregivers who may not live with their loved one.

Adams said therapeutic writing and journaling can help breast cancer patients express strong emotions and may increase a patient’s self-empowerment and self-esteem.

For questions about or to register for the classes, contact Sanaya Sturm, oncology nurse manager at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center, at sanaya.sturm@uchealth.org.


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