Guest Blogger: Deb Vilas at PediaPlay
Participating in Visible Ink was a huge coping mechanism for me when I was treated for cancer in 2013. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center runs this program on a strictly volunteer basis, matching cancer patients and survivors up with writing mentors to work on creative writing projects of the patient’s choice. I chose to write about my work with children as a child life specialist, and how it effected my own self care as a cancer patient. Two of my pieces have been published in the Visible Ink Annual Anthologies from 2014 and 2016.
Writing is self care for me in general. When I underwent treatment for breast cancer, it provided me with something to focus on other than the plot twists and side effects that challenged me each day. My mentor met with me over tea in my sunny solarium at home, and she worked with me online as well, editing my work and coaching me to be a better writer. It was a gift that did for my soul what surgery, chemo and radiation were doing for my body – healing on a totally different level.
The reach of Visible Ink goes far beyond the patients that it empowers. The writings that come out of the process can be incredible windows into the patient’s experience for those caring for the patient. Family, friends, caregivers and medical professionals can gain invaluable insight into what matters, what helps and what impedes healing for the patient. It gives them a different perspective that helps them connect to the patient’s emotions and thoughts when diagnosed, during the bumpy road of treatment and beyond.