I wrote this booklet during a two year internship at the Art for Recovery Program, part of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. I would sit in waiting rooms and ask people to tell me what was on their minds, to listen, and write down the things they said. I also set up several bulletin boards, three in the hospital, and one in the Ida Friend Outpatient Infusion Center waiting room, where people, patients, family, friends, and staff could write down their thoughts and feelings in response to a poem or a prompt. The great majority of what is in this book came from the bulletin boards. As I listened and observed, I also wrote poems, as a way to capture the feelings and thoughts in my own heart. For me, a big believer in the mind-body connection, that’s what healing is about.
As you read the pages of this free book download, I hope you will think of those you might see on the street or meet as friends who have been through a life-changing illness, those who may be very ill and not even look all that sick, or those who may have the tell-tale signs of progressing cancer. I hope you will think of the nurses and doctors who fight the battle with them, and who do their best to set the tone for the healing atmosphere inside the hospital. As said on one of the 3 bulletin boards, Soak up the good energy here! You can feel it all around. Know that someone cares even if you don’t know them. And of course, I hope you will take something away for yourself, and maybe even write about it! (From the introduction to No Longer Strangers)