Sharon … is an astonishing writer, facilitator, and innovator in the field of TLA (Transformative Language Arts). Her excellent books on writing through illness are superb and used by many of my students as well as myself in facilitating workshops for people living with cancer and other serious illness. Sharon is a true visionary, a marvelously moving and insightful writer, and a mentor-facilitator.
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Poet Laureate of Kansas, Professor, Transformative Language Arts, Goddard College
Sharon is an extraordinary teacher whose gift is to create a setting where anyone, regardless of writing experience or talent, can feel comfortable in allowing his or her personal emotions to find expression in words. This is an unusual gift. Sharon … encourages writers to develop their personal voices… By encouraging them to write from their heartfelt experiences, Sharon helps these professionals to become better at what they do–deal with people in their day to day professional roles–because they are themselves more comfortable with feeling and expressing emotions.
—Participant, The Writers’ Workshop at Stanford Medical School
I’m probably best known for my innovative work with transformative writing, or writing as a way of healing, particularly for whose voices have been silenced by serious illness, pain, loss or trauma. Since my experience with early stage cancer and subsequent heart failure several years ago, I have specialized in leading therapeutic writing groups for cancer patients, survivors and many others as well as taught creative nonfiction, transformational writing, mentored and trained prospective writing group leaders. My two books, When Words Heal: Writing Through Cancer (North Atlantic/Frog Books, 2006) and A Healing Journey: Writing Together through Breast Cancer (Amherst Writers & Artists Press, 2004) were inspired by the first expressive writing workshops I led with cancer patients. And in 2007, together with Pat Fobair, LCSW, I was co-editor of a cancer patients’ anthology, Learning to Live Again, published by the Stanford School of Medicine.
I have been a life long educator, a former corporate and non-profit executive before turning my focus to writing. For over twenty years, I’ve led writing workshops for cancer patients, at risk teens, emerging creative writers, clergy, helping professionals and heart patients. I initiated the first “Writing Through Cancer” series at Bay Area Cancer Connections (formerly Community Breast Health Project) in Palo Alto from 2001 – 2006 and at Stanford Cancer Center from 2004 – 2013, later continuing that work at Scripps Green and UCSD Moores Cancer Centers in San Diego.
I was privileged to enjoy a unique collaboration with South Carolina artist, Heidi Darr-Hope, co-facilitating a number of expressive workshops or projects featuring the interplay between word and image for cancer patients and others, led in South Carolina and Mallorca, Spain. As an invited speaker at a variety of healthcare conferences, I was invited to be a faculty member for the national CURE Today Forums for cancer patients for three consecutive years and a presenter at the 2013 “Living Well with Cancer” program at the Omega Institute, Rhinebeck NY. And for twelve years before returning to Toronto, I had the privilege to be the workshop leader for Stanford Medical School’s “The Writers’ Workshop” series for faculty, alumni and students.
Since returning to Canada in 2017, I continue regular writing workshops for those living with cancer together with Gilda’s Club of Greater Toronto and periodically, Young Adult Cancer Canada. In early 2020, another unique collaboration resulted in the “first-ever expressive writing workshop for heart patients” at the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research, now offered virtually in the fall and spring. In 2021, I was recognized with a “President’s Patient Partner Award” for my work initiating and leading an expressive writing program for cardiac patients through the Ted Rogers Center for Heart Research at UHN, Toronto.
I earned my BA and completed an additional graduate year of teacher training/certification at San Jose State University in California, earned my Masters from Mt. St. Vincent University in Halifax, and my doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Toronto. I later studied creative and transformative writing through the University of Washington, Humber School for Writers and Goddard College.
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TO CONTACT SHARON: Email: email@example.com