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About this blog:
Writing the heart focuses on the experience of living with heart failure from Sharon Bray, Ed.D., writer, educator and heart failure patient. Intended for an honest expression of the experience of living with heart failure, Sharon began the blog as a way for her own personal exploration and “sense-making” as a person living with heart failure. Writing has many health benefits, as research has demonstrated and as Sharon witnessed in the many expressive writing groups she’s led with cancer patients, the bereaved, and others. As a heart failure patient, she hopes that others, similarly diagnosed, will be encouraged to write from their own experiences–not just the medical one, but the impact heart failure or disease has on one’s life–physical, emotional and spirituual. Her posts are “from the heart,” but also shared in hopes others will discover shared experience from her writing and, perhaps, be inspired to write their own illness narratives of living with heart failure.
Posted occasionally, typically once a month, each post includes a personal perspective (with references to poetry, literature and research studies) as well as an invitation to write. In time, Sharon hopes to invite submissions from other heart failure patients and feature their stories, poetry or essays on an online site devoted to the writing, the stories and experiences of heart patients. Stay tuned!
Best known for her innovative work using expressive writing with cancer patients, Dr. Sharon Bray is the author of two books on expressive writing during cancer (A Healing Journey: Writing Together through Breast Cancer (2004) and When Words Heal (2006) and co-editor of an anthology of Stanford Cancer Center patients’ writing (Learning to Live Again, 2007).
Sharon developed and led writing programs for breast cancer patients and survivors shortly after a diagnosis and treatment for DCIS in 2000, including those at Stanford Hospital Cancer Center, non-profit breast cancer support organizations, as well as Scripps Green and Moores UCSD Cancer Centers in San Diego. She has encouraged and listened to patient stories of their cancer and medical experience for twenty years, yet it wasn’t until she collapsed on the pavement while walking her dog and was subsequently diagnosed with heart failure, that she truly understood her cancer writers’ fears of mortality or having their lives negatively impacted by cancer surgeries and treatments.
Dr. Bray has been a featured speaker at healthcare conferences in USA and Canada, including the Omega Institute in Rheinhart, NY, and is a former faculty member of the CURE Magazine Forums. She taught creative nonfiction and transformational writing for UCLA extension’s “Writers’ Program” and Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. For twelve years, Sharon led a biannual series, “The Writers’ Workshop at Stanford Medical School,” for the faculty, staff, students and alumni, giving her a unique vantage point on physician and patient perspectives.
Prior to her work in the cancer community, Dr. Bray was a corporate consultant in Toronto, New-York, and Silicon Valley, served as interim and full-time executive director of three Silicon Valley non-profits, and a part-time instructor at Santa Clara University, CA. She earned her doctorate in Educational Psychology from the University of Toronto in 1987 and later studied creative and transformation writing at Goddard College, University of Washington, and Humber College in Toronto.
Sharon’s passion encouraging and supporting the narratives and poetry of those living with cancer and other serious illness continues. She currently leads expressive writing programs for Gilda’s Club of Greater Toronto and has served as an advisory board member and author of a bi-monthly column for the online publication, Cancer Knowledge Network. She is also the author of writingthroughcancer.ca (.com), a bi-weekly blog featuring thematic essays and writing suggestions for those living with serious illness or other life hardship.