Washington's beauty in spring is not news to Judy Isaacs, a long-term resident of Arlington. But last year, Isaacs felt more awestruck than usual when "a carpet" of pink petals from flowering trees blew over her car as she drove down Van Dorn Street in Alexandria. "I don't remember seeing that many petals before," said Isaacs, an interior designer.
During a writing group session for women undergoing (or who've undergone) treatment for breast cancer, Isaacs wrote about feeling more appreciation than ever for such fleeting moments. She attributed this to having received a diagnosis of breast cancer a few months earlier.
Eight months later, Isaacs, who has just finished seven weeks of radiation treatment, says she's found the "Write Away Group," sponsored by the Virginia Hospital Center, helpful because of the "not depressing at all" demeanor of its members -- herself and four other women, ranging from their thirties to their seventies.
Group facilitator and two-time breast cancer survivor Jana Morgana of Falls Church said the 10-year-old group, whose members have changed throughout the years, offers women a vent for cancer-related frustration and a forum for realizations like Isaacs's. "You get a thread going [during writing] and you're not interrupted," said Morgana, an artist who repairs dollhouses. In 1998 the group published a collection of some members' works, "Can You Come Here Where I Am?" (E.M. Press).
In monthly, 90-minute sessions, members write for 15 minutes on a broad topic that Morgana suggests, such as "waiting." Then they read entries one at a time and discuss them.
"We learn about ourselves from what we write," said Isaacs.
The free group meets the second Monday of each month at Virginia Hospital Center's Cancer Resource Center, 1701 N. George Mason Dr., Arlington. The next meeting is June 14 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Bring paper and a pen. To learn more or request a free copy of the book, call 703-558-5555.
-- Samantha Ganey