I’m a writer who is passionate about health and wellbeing – my own, and other people’s – and that is what this blog is all about. For me, creativity is at the heart of being well.
I have a diverse range of projects on the go. Some days I am a ghostwriter, working with older people to write the story of their lives so they can leave a lasting legacy for their family and friends. One of my clients, Allan, is a retired surgeon who has dementia, and at 86 is also dealing with his wife’s terminal illness. Befriending Allan and writing his story – viewed as it is by Allan as an end-of-life project – is simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting.
(This is Allan aged four in 1932. You can read about Allan’s life and adventures at allanlesterfics.wordpress.com.)
I am a member of Lapidus, the organisation for writing for wellbeing in the UK, and manage the “Spread the Word” website (spreadthewordcornwall.wordpress.com), part of a campaign to get more people writing in Cornwall. I love working with a variety of groups to help them uncover the therapeutic value of writing for themselves: recently I co-facilitated a series of workshops with journalist, writer and teacher Anne Taylor for people who have experienced a cancer diagnosis, and I am working with Memory Cafes to provide writing workshops with dementia sufferers and their carers.
As part of my own health journey, I am writing a book that’s part memoir, part history, part fairytale. Mermaids and Monsters is the story of 200 years of breast cancer surgery, an exploration inspired by my own mastectomy and reconstruction and a quest to put my experience into perspective. I have watched my surgeon in theatre, created “Operation Orange” workshops demonstrating mastectomies on oranges, trawled through archives looking for nineteenth-century women’s experiences, and blogged about my findings (http://oncoplasticfruit.blogspot.com). I have been featured on BBC radio, and the Royal College of Surgeons has written about my work here. I am passionate about translating medical writing and making it more accessible for all, and have recently begun working with trainee doctors to help them do the same.