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A New Expressive Writing Community for Breast Cancer Survivors

renkat Member Posts: 4


I hope this is the appropriate thread to present this project. (I did check with Breast Cancer .Org for permission before jumping in like this.)

I am Ren - a poet, playwright, and teaching artist (PhD), who finished active treatment for stage 2B breast cancer in January. I lost my best friend to cancer the same month I began chemo, so I wrote my way through the year in an unedited, public diary.

I honestly believe writing (and reading other women's experiences) kept me from feeling alone or hopeless. And several women reached out to me to thank me for helping them find the words for their own experiences—sometimes from years ago.

I have a (1-year, university) diploma in pedagogic counselling, with a focus on expressive writing, and I have taught creative writing for over 30 years.

On May 20th, I'm starting a new online community that will be a place for women to witness, write, and reframe their experiences. The discussions will be about the writing itself. We aren't providing therapy for one another, but the writing will be therapeutic for authors and readers alike. (I have links to relevant research on the website.)

The community space will include a public anthology for finished poems or hybrid work. However, it's important to state that contributing to the anthology is voluntary and not the goal of the community! It's the quality of the expression that matters, not the formal aspects of a sonnet, or even a sentence. You can even use emojis. 😎 "Writing therapy is a low-cost, easily accessible, and versatile form of therapy. It can be done individually, with just a person and a pen, or guided by a mental health professional. It can also be practiced in a group, with group discussions focusing on writing. It can even be added as a supplement to another form of therapy." (

Beyond the Pink: Witness, Write, Reframe. - Please check out the webpage for details.

MY GOAL is to host a compassionate, non-judgement and diverse community of women who can validate one another, and help one another to find the words to make the world make sense under the circumstances.

I am excited about making this happen, and hope that some of you will consider joining the community.

Please don't hesitate to write me if you have questions!

Warmly, Ren



  • tougholdcrow
    tougholdcrow Member Posts: 53

    Great idea. How will your substack work, Ren? It does ask for a pledge when joining. Will only paid subscribers write on the site? How will you choose from submissions? Thanks!

  • renkat
    renkat Member Posts: 4
    edited May 16

    Hi! The shared texts and discussions will be behind a paywall (but not the prompts), HOWEVER, I am comping the first 20 free subscribers as paid. Substack asks for money no matter what ;) I haven't even turned the paid option on yet.

    The anthology will be made up of work that grows from the expressive writing. I won't function as an editor (but I will if there is a book later). I'm going to feature guest posts every other month. The first one will be a woman who is NED after a stage IV diagnosis.

    I hope that clears things up? The About page has more information, too. Or ask away here! I hope you’ll consider joining if it interests you.

  • threetree
    threetree Member Posts: 1,379

    Will men with breast cancer be welcome?

  • renkat
    renkat Member Posts: 4

    Not in the discussions. Just as guest posts. I'm thinking about how much different the loss of a breast is for women. I should probably make that clear. Thank you for bringing it up.

  • renkat
    renkat Member Posts: 4

    Threetree - thank you again. I have updated the website (after a rather long discussion with my husband who was sceptical at first to my limiting the threads). I am going to offer free private feedback for men if they want the creative writing aspect. It would be amazing to have a group for men only.