How writing can help people with a cancer diagnosis

Power of Language Workshop with Janet Ellis and People's Postcode Lottery
Power of Language Workshop with Janet Ellis and People's Postcode Lottery

Cancer charity Maggie’s is delighted to announce that a creative writing workshop devised in part by former Blue Peter presenter and author Janet Ellis, is to be rolled out to its centres, including Aberdeen.

With the theme the ‘Power of Words’, the workshop is for anyone living with cancer who would like to explore ideas around positive and negative words, the role they play in an experience of cancer and how writing can help people come to terms with the emotions involved in a cancer diagnosis.

Maggie’s Aberdeen would like to invite anyone interested in taking part in a ‘Power of Language’ workshop to contact centre staff.

The workshops are backed by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Since 2007, Maggie’s has received more than £9 million from players, a sum which plays a significant role in allowing Maggie’s to provide its free programme of support designed to help people live well with cancer.

Susan Sutherland, Maggie’s Aberdeen Centre head, said words can be very important: “The way we talk about cancer, not only in the media but amongst our friends and family and within the medical profession, can have an impact on people living with cancer,” she said.

“Language matters and words mean something. They affect our subconscious.

“When it comes to cancer there seems to be a separate language including words like “fight”, “survivor” or “be positive” which are often quoted at people with cancer with detrimental effects. They can also make conversations with their nearest and dearest uncomfortable.

“Maggie’s creative writing sessions, as well as many other aspects of our evidence based programme of support, can help people to find the words that feel most comfortable for them and which most help them to express their feelings with ease.”

She added: “I would like to thank Janet Ellis, and players of People’s Postcode Lottery, for helping us create this special workshop and raise awareness of the power that words can have when experiencing cancer.”

Long term Maggie’s supporter Janet Ellis hosted the pilot workshop in the Maggie’s West London centre on National Writing Day, June 21.

Janet said: “As a writer, I believe in the power of words. The process of writing can be both cathartic and revealing.

“I am delighted to be involved in these workshops, backed by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, to explore the use of language, which will hopefully help the participants process their thoughts and emotions around cancer.

“It feels like a perfect compliment to the support Maggie’s offers.”

Clara Govier, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said the work that Maggie’s does is vital in today’s society.

She said: “With so many people affected by cancer, a place to get free practical advice and social support is so important and the writing workshop is a fantastic extension of the services offered. I’m delighted that players have so far awarded over £9 million to Maggie’s, helping workshops such as this one take place.”

Built in the grounds of Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Maggie’s Aberdeen is a warm and welcoming place, with qualified professionals on hand to offer an evidence-based core programme of support that has been shown to improve physical and emotional wellbeing.

Emotional support might involve a one-to-one or group session with a clinical psychologist, stress reduction and relaxation workshops, or art therapy and creative writing courses.

Practical support might include advice about benefits and eating well; specialist support for managing hair loss and skin care during and after treatment – courses such as ‘Getting Started’, for people who are newly diagnosed; or ‘Where Now?’ for those adjusting to life after cancer.

Social support comes from the people who work in and visit Maggie’s Centres, the supportive community around each kitchen table of people who understand what it is to be living with cancer.

Maggie’s relies on voluntary donations to support and grow its network of Centres and to develop its unique, high quality programme of support.

The charity’s aim is to make the biggest difference possible to people living with cancer and their family and friends.

To find out more about Maggie’s Aberdeen and to see how the Centre supports people living with cancer across the north east please visit the Centre on Westburn Road or get in touch by telephoning: 01224 645928 or emailing: