The Dale Swan Foundation
The Dale Swan Foundation was created by Dale, with the support of her family and friends to develop a therapeutic writing program for people living with a life threatening illness, so that they may find a source of healing within themselves and create a legacy for those they love. The program hopes to be implemented into hospital and therapeutic settings and continues to be under development. For more information please contact us.
The Dale Swan Foundation
My name is Dale Swan. In August of 2013 I was diagnosed with what has become terminal cancer.
After months of treatment, in the fall of 2014 my doctors gave me a year to live.
My children asked me to write my life story but the feeling of doing it was overwhelming. I was in so much pain, fear and confusion I didn’t know if I could do what they asked of me. Then last October I was gifted with a creative epiphany. I awoke one morning with a phrase, My Life as Compost. It was a gift from my creative muse. The title gave me a fresh perspective from which to frame my story.
My Life as Compost said it all. What we live, and write, is a natural gift to share with ourselves, and others. I went from feeling fearful and blocked to writing a memoir that is almost 300 pages long. I posted the memoir (on my blog, daleswan.weebly.com) chapter by chapter to friends, family and my doctors at Dana Farber. I got wonderful feedback, which spurred me on to write more. I finally felt calm and at peace knowing that I was leaving my family with the gift of my life story.
It occurred to me that others facing life-threatening disease might find the same sense of peace and meaning that I had found through writing my story. I researched, with the help of some colleagues, the healing effects of writing (Pennebaker, DeSalvo) and found considerable evidence for its therapeutic benefits. Writing had been shown to decrease anxiety and depression, reduce feelings of isolation, and ease the grief process of those left behind. In addition, it allows the writer to close their life story with coherence and meaning. (See attached bibliography.)
As a result of my personal experience and the research, I came up with the idea to create a therapeutic writing program to help people living with life threatening illness heal themselves, and connect with those they love. It’s a powerful legacy leaving stories, poems and letters in hard copy.