(This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License). Author’s permission is required to cite any portion of this site.)
About this blog:
Heartmusings.ca is a personal blog on the experience of living with heart failure from Sharon Bray, Ed.D., writer, educator and heart failure patient, intended for an honest expression of the experience of living with heart failure. Begun as a way for her own personal exploration and “sense-making” as a woman living with heart failure, she hopes that others, similarly diagnosed, will find meaning and shared experience in her posts–and be inspired to write their own illness narratives of living with heart failure.
Posted occasionally, typically once or twice a month, each post includes a personal perspective (including references to poetry, literature and research studies) and an invitation to write. Sharon has been leading expressive writing groups for different groups, including cancer patients, at risk teens, the bereaved and others writing from life’s difficult chapters, for nearly 20 years. Writing, as a significant body of psychological research has demonstrated (see the work of James Pennebaker, PhD and his colleagues), has health benefits and can help us heal from the emotional impact of hardship and trauma.
From time to time, Sharon hopes to invite submissions from other heart failure patients and feature their stories, poetry or essays on this site. Contact Sharon
Best known for her innovative work using expressive writing with cancer patients, Dr. Sharon Bray is the author of two books on expressive writing during cancer (A Healing Journey: Writing Together through Breast Cancer (2004) and When Words Heal (2006) and co-editor of an anthology of Stanford Cancer Center patients’ writing (Learning to Live Again, 2007).
Sharon developed and led writing programs for breast cancer patients and survivors shortly after a diagnosis and treatment for DCIS in 2000, including those at Stanford Hospital Cancer Center, non-profit breast cancer support organizations, as well as Scripps Green and Moores UCSD Cancer Centers in San Diego. She has encouraged and listened to patient stories of their cancer and medical experience for over seventeen years, yet it wasn’t until 2008, when Sharon collapsed on the pavement while walking her dog and subsequently being diagnosed with heart failure, that she truly, perhaps, understood their fears of mortality or prospect of life negatively impacted by various surgeries and chemotherapies.
Dr. Bray has been a featured speaker at healthcare conferences in USA and Canada, including the Omega Institute in Rheinhart, NY, and is a former faculty member of the CURE Magazine Forums. She taught creative nonfiction and transformational writing for UCLA extension’s “Writers’ Program” and Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. For twelve years, Sharon led a biannual series, “The Writers’ Workshop at Stanford Medical School,” for the faculty, staff, students and alumni, giving her a unique vantage point on physician and patient perspectives.
Prior to her work in the cancer community, Dr. Bray was a corporate consultant in Toronto, New-York, and Silicon Valley, served as interim and full-time executive director of three Silicon Valley non-profits, and a part-time instructor at Santa Clara University, CA. She earned her doctorate in Educational Psychology from the University of Toronto in 1987 and later studied creative and transformative writing at Goddard College, University of Washington, and Humber College in Toronto.
Sharon’s passion encouraging and supporting the narratives and poetry of those living with cancer and other serious illness continues. She now leads expressive writing programs for Gilda’s Club of Greater Toronto and is an advisory board member and author of a bi-monthly column for the online publication, Cancer Knowledge Network. She is also the author of writingthroughcancer.ca (.com), a bi-weekly blog featuring thematic essays and writing suggestions for those living with serious illness or other life hardship.