Writer Commission project leads to anthology of creative writing by women living with cancer

Published Mon 6 Feb 2023 - By Literature Wales
Writer Commission project leads to anthology of creative writing by women living with cancer
Seren Haf Grime

During 2022, writer Seren Haf Grime worked with St David’s Hospice Care to deliver a creative writing project to women under the age of 50 living with secondary cancer, helping them share their experiences through creative writing. The project was one of a series of Writer Commissions devised and delivered in partnership with the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Wales. 

Younger women living with cancer are often juggling young families, taking care of their homes and relationships whilst receiving chemotherapy and ongoing maintenance treatments for their condition. Often, they’ve had to give up their career, temporarily or even permanently, due to the physical or psychological impacts of cancer, and then to comply with the requirement to shield during the pandemic. 

The project offered six monthly workshops as an opportunity to explore common themes through words. Everyone who took part had a voice, was heard, and wrote something during every session. Afterwards, participants reported increased levels of self-confidence and a decreased sense of isolation. 

The collected pieces can now been read in the anthology Staying Alive: A Book of Hope, which was launched on Friday 3 February 2023 at St David’s Hospice, Newport. The book is available on Issuu:


“Seren structured our group meetings over a six-month period, by bringing unique relevant poetry, song and images linked to the passing seasons. I was amazed at the poems I produced and how my confidence to share my work evolved and grew.” (Rachel, participant)


Reflecting on the project, Seren said: “It’s been very important that I could demonstrate how effective and powerful this type of intervention can be for younger women living with cancer. The results are clearly beneficial and it gives a platform for possible further opportunities for others.  

“We hope to make the book available to cancer patients at the point of diagnosis to give them hope, to relatives of people living with cancer to help them understand, to younger women living with cancer to realise they aren’t alone and to managers and commissioners of cancer services in the NHS and third sector to highlight the benefit of creative writing.” 

For more information on our Writer Commissions, go to the project’s page here.