Healing with Words:
A Writer's Cancer Journey
by Diana M. Raab Loving Healing Press

"The journey of my diagnosis, treatment and recovery from breast cancer has been a life-altering event... my best remedy is to direct my creative energy to writing. I once had a writer friend who said, 'When it hurts, write harder.'"

Diana Raab had no family history of breast cancer; she nursed three children, supposedly making its occurrence less likely. Yet, at 47, she is given a diagnosis of just that and eventually undergoes a mastectomy and a breast and a nipple reconstruction. She has no chemo or radiation. Five years down the line, free of any remaining cancer in her breast, she is diagnosed with a second cancer, this one incurable and not excisable multiple myeloma. However, the latter generally lasts for years and does not mean an impending death sentence.

Nevertheless, for this nurse, teacher, writer, wife. and mother, these years have been terribly difficult, leading to lots of tears and feelings of inadequacies, depressions, travels to see specialists, and most importantly, back to her writing (and to new writing poetry). In fact, since her initial diagnosis, she has published two books, the first a memoir of her grandmother who committed suicide when Raab was l0, and this one, mostly in journal format but also with poems describing her fears and her healing process. Also included in this book are blank pages with questions to answer for readers/patients, if they are so inclined to write. One is, Did any event, personal or in the current affairs, affect your physical or emotional healing?

Raab has taught journaling and believes writing, along with re-examining her childhood hurts, has kept her alive and, most of the time, optimistic. She also has had the luxury of excellent surgeons and plastic surgeons, the ability to travel to meet with them, a terrific family and an extremely useful woman doctor friend.

This is one in a large number of memoirs of surviving cancer available today. It is a fairly short read, and although the ideas/focus are not entirely new, Raab displays a refreshing honesty about her pain and discouragement. The journal prompts may help a reader take more control over her own treatment and her future.

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