Chronic Health Conditions Storytelling Group

This group will meet weekly, unless otherwise noted, in the LINK 059, Seminar 1 from 6:00-7:30 pm every Thursday.

The Duke Health Humanities Lab seeks participants for its third annual offering of the Chronic Health Conditions Storytelling (CHCS) group. Facilitated by Duke medical students Sam Hofacker, Megha Gupta, and Sarah Hodges, advised by faculty member Deborah Jenson, and assisted by Health Humanities Lab Manager and former Duke Disability Alliance president Cuquis Robledo, the group uses short excerpts of fiction, poetry, autobiography, podcasts, video, and images as prompts for conversation and sharing about chronic health conditions. Students managing health conditions ranging from depression and anxiety, acne to ADD, endometriosis to diabetes and cancer, to IBS and chronic pain, to lupus and diabetes are warmly welcomed for supportive and creative dialogue on their journey to optimization both of their health and their education. Students dealing with the health problems of loved ones are also invited to participate.

Examples of short texts and excerpts on chronic illness that are used in discussion include, “My Body is My Temple” by Emiliano Bourgeois-Chacon:

“Doctors want to knock my temple beams, cut my muscles they say

Fungus can’t grow where there is nothing

Well I need every part of my body even parts I don’t know”

Facilitators will promote discussion, serve as sounding boards in dialogue, give creative writing prompts, and provide feedback on students’ writing if desired. Creative writing prompts are fluid, but include rubrics such as legacy/memoir writing, transactional writings, and poetic writing. One example: “Write a Letter to your Illness.” 

We hope that through the collaborative use of creative outlets, students will develop personal resources to maximize both education and health.

Feedback from previous participants:

“A personal space to cope with my own story. In our today’s fast-paced society, I take this as a time that is dedicated to me. I believe in the power of storytelling.”

“A great outlet to express frustrations and receive understanding.”

“Helped me more aptly describe my personal struggles.” 

“I find answers, peace, strategies. I learnt of different ways to deal with things by listening to others share their stories. Writing in itself was therapeutic.”

“Even just going the one time allowed me to start thinking more critically and openly about how my health has been so PRESENT in my life. Since then I have been really trying to do some work on my relationship to the pain that my body causes me.”

“I also learned how to implement narrative medicine in my future medical practice.”

Guasaca is provided as a meal for this event.


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