Last night From Me to You held its first letter writing workshop at Waterstones. Knowing what to say to a friend with cancer can be very difficult but at the workshop fears were overcome, questions answered and letters written.

How did we do it?

Attendee Sarah Palmer shares her experience:

‘I tagged along with a friend – I didn’t think that it was really my thing, I didn’t even have a friend with cancer let alone be a letter writer.

We started the workshop by reading out quotes from people who had had cancer. I hadn’t fully realised how isolating cancer can make people feel; how far from them other people move. I was shocked.

We were a group of ten and as everyone was there for the same reason, we quickly began to share stories; how helpless we’d felt when our friend told us that they were ill, the uncertainty around whether they would want us to intrude on their illness and, how daunted we were about not knowing what to write.

Brian and Alison’s story addressed our fears – that sending letters had allowed Alison to feel less powerless to help and had made Brian feel connected, that a simple card, text or phone call can be the request for permission to write, and that, whatever we say in our letters, as long as it’s written from the heart, then our intention shines through.

We listened to examples of opening paragraphs to help us overcome our own fears of getting started, and then we gave it a go ourselves. However, by then the intimidating fear of writing that letter had been removed, and with choices of stationary from postcards to notelets to A4 sheets, our words seemed to flow. Suddenly we were a very quiet group, intent on our letters.

Having come not thinking that the workshop was for me, I found myself writing to a colleague in the office who has been absent for a year. I told her the office gossip and about recent new joiners. I felt guilty that neither me nor anyone else had thought that she may want to hear from us.

The From Me to You website is full of Writing Tips for the Do’s and Don’ts of letter writing and informative blogs with useful opening paragraphs to get your letter started.

I left the workshop feeling very pleased I’d gone. Within an hour I’d moved from selfish to selfless; from thinking that there was no one who needed a letter from me to spending 20 minutes actually writing to someone who I knew would hugely appreciate it.

Inspiring is an over-used word, but this workshop really does inspire and empower you to write, all within a very comfortable, sharing community.

I would encourage you to join a class. You may not have a friend with cancer but I think that most of us know someone who is suffering or in pain who will appreciate the kindness of a letter.’

For details of our next workshop, or to be put on our workshop mailing list, visit our website and contact us to book your place.


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