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'Emotional' Writing May Help Ease Cancer Pain


Patients who wrote about their feelings had less discomfort, study says
July. 18, 2008
Some cancer patients may find that putting their emotions down in writing helps improve their pain and general well-being, a study suggests. Such writing, part of a concept called "narrative" medicine, has been seen as a way to aid communication between seriously ill patients and their doctors.
But the act of writing, itself, may also help patients better understand themselves and their needs, according to the study team, led by Dr. M. Soledad Cepeda of Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston.
To look at the question, they randomly assigned 234 cancer patients to one of three groups: one that was asked to perform narrative writing; one that filled out a standard questionnaire about pain symptoms; and one that stayed with standard care only.
All of the study patients were suffering from at least moderate levels of pain from their disease. Those in the narrative-writing group were asked to spend 20 minutes per week, for three weeks, writing about the ways in which cancer was affecting their daily lives.
At the study's start and then once a week for eight weeks, patients in all three groups completed a standard questionnaire about their well-being and rated their pain levels.
In general, Cepeda's team found, patients in the writing group who were open about their emotions showed less pain and greater well-being over time than the rest of the study subjects.
Such effects were not seen in patients whose writing was relatively unemotional, the researchers report in the Journal of Pain & Symptom Management.
The findings suggest that the emotional release of writing, specifically, is what helps patients deal with their cancer pain, according to Cepeda's team. However, they add, it's also possible that the most seriously ill patients find it more difficult to write about their feelings.
More studies are needed, the researchers conclude, to see whether encouraging seriously ill patients to reveal their emotions in writing benefits their well-being. In addition, they say, studies should look at whether verbally telling one's "story" has positive effects.
SOURCE: Journal of Pain & Symptom Management, June 2008.
Dr. Iverson's Comment
YES!!! YES!!! YES!!! This is the stuff we teach at the clinic!  When I wrote my doctoral thesis on the influence the mind and emotions have as a potential cause and healing aspect of cancer, I learned much that mainstream public doesn’t understand. Many scientists and physicians have been reporting this success for years (Carl Simonton, John Sarno, Candace Pert, Carolyn Myss, Jeanne Achterberg, Norman Cousins, Bernie Siegel) but no-one seems to be listening. Either it sounds too “FOO-FOO”, or to inexpensive, or maybe just too easy and not “toxic” enough to KILL CANCER. 
My opinion is that cancer cells (which are really your cells, not an intruder) are just confused. The confusion can often happen due to a combination of many factors; genetic susceptibility, diet, lifestyle, toxins, and of course, emotions. If it can be created in this manner then the improvement in any of these areas can lead to an improvement in symptoms. 
In our clinic it is common prescription to have the patient journal and FEEL the dominant emotions that are negatively impacting their life. Interesting enough, just getting frustrations out on paper and feeling them allows us to release them, and in turn, release the pain associated with them. The last thing we want to do is bottle it up! So get out the paper, pen, and Kleenex and get rid of some pain!
Be well! 
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