The healing power of storytelling

After a life-changing diagnosis of breast cancer in 2012, Sandra Marinella decided to change her story…

For 30 years, Arizona State University alumna Sandra Marinella was a teacher, her goal was to teach students to be better writers. But after a life-changing diagnosis of breast cancer in 2012, Marinella decided to make a change. She became a storyteller and author, writing her own stories about people.

Marinella’s first book is called “The Story You Need to Tell,” and is designed to help people cope with traumas, illnesses or loss through the art of writing. Armed with the stories from cancer patients and veterans and her years as a literature teacher, she created a guide to transformational storytelling, set to launch in mid-May.

“I have a passion for words, and I think throughout my career, I have come to realize that words can play a phenomenal role in helping to heal us and grow us and transform us,” Marinella says. “My pivotal moment, the moment I decided to write the book was in 2012, I discovered I had breast cancer and learning you have cancer is a very traumatic experience. You suddenly realize you have to navigate a whole new world and that you have to find new ways of coping with the world.”

Marinella graduated from ASU in 1995 with her Master’s degree in humanities/ humanistic studies and says she’s used her schooling background to further understand the people she writes for.

The ASU alumna says she shares her experience with journaling and expressive writing to navigate challenges including her battle with breast cancer and postpartum depression.

Marinella spent some time looking around for a book like the one she had in mind. After finding nothing, she decided she could be the one to write it — finding there was a real need for the kind of book she had in mind. Marinella also spent some time studying the effects that writing can have in times of crisis and found over 200 studies that show writing can provide physical, psychological and even social benefits.

“Since I have been a writing teacher my whole career, I did what I always do, I turned to my writing,” Marinella says. “As I navigated the treatment, and the surgeries, I think I came to understand that my personal writing was profoundly helpful. I wanted to share that with others and it was pretty easy for me to do since I taught writing for 30 years. I knew a lot of ways that personal writing could be used to help us as a guide, even as a therapeutic tool.”

Read the full story here!

Published Online: 4.18.17

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