times, scribes were devotees of the Word. They were the
bridges between worlds, charged with the sacred task of
painstakingly transcribing the Mysteries into a form
that could be referenced by holy men and women. Many
centuries later, our modern journals give us unlimited
access to the Mysteries of our souls. Through this
column, I hope to offer ways that we can approach our
own lives with the love and devotion of the scribes of
Healing Words, Healing Touch: Jihan's
My first hint that there was something seriously
wrong came on a Post-It note.
"I wrote these after writing group," Jihan
"These" were about 20 short poems, typed
neatly in two columns over three pages, all using the
word BREAST as an organizing theme. Individually, they
were small jewels of expression. Collectively, they told
a troubled story of a woman deeply concerned. Jihan
Matteson, 58, had been an active member of my Monday
afternoon journal therapy group for over a year when she
wrote these poems. Already a survivor of breast cancer,
she had used the writing group to map out the unfamiliar
terrain of life after recovery. What she kept hearing in
her writing was the maddening instruction to sit still.
And in the stillness, increasingly, she received
messages that all was not well with her breast.
As the poems and writings bubbled up from a place
deep within, Jihan sought opinions and answers. She
began with her colleagues and friends at Foothills
Healing Arts Center, where she worked as an
administrator. Some of the finest, most progressive
healers practicing today are found at Foothills Healing
Arts Center in Lakewood, Colorado, which houses the
headquarters of both the Healing Touch movement and The
Center for Journal Therapy. Before long, Jihan had grim
news: Her cancer was back, virulent and nasty. As
referral led to referral, she landed at University
Hospital with a leading research oncologist, who
diagnosed her with Stage 4 cancer, metastacized to the
Where does one turn, but to family, friends and
faith? Jihan wrote an e-mail to her dearest childhood
friend, Mary. Mary wrote back. Jihan wrote again, this
time copying her daughter and son. Mary's daily e-mails
of support and strength became a lifeline for her.
Exhausting as it was to try and keep her far-flung
family apprised of her constantly changing medical
situation, Jihan added more names to the "cc"
field of her e-mail. She forwarded me one of her
missives one day, and I wrote back. "Sounds like
you're writing an e-mail journal," I said.
"Can I be on the list?" The Monday afternoon
group clamored for inclusion. So did others in her
extended family. Before long, there were 20 or more who
received daily updates on her treatment, as well as a
window into her moods, thoughts, emotions, needs and
We shared in Jihan's deepest internal discourse about
the meaning of life and the reality of death. We were
treated to delightful portraits of her baby
granddaughter, Bella, as she grew from infancy to
toddlerhood. As silent witnesses, we suffered the agony
and devastation of chemotherapy and its aftermath.
Nearly every day, sometimes more than once, we received
e-mails chronicling Jihan's struggle, strength and
Immediately upon diagnosis, Jihan began to receive
intensive energetic healing work from Janet Mentgen,
founder of Healing Touch, and Anne Day, one of Janet's
most active trainers. She also began a parallel
treatment with Reiki Master Doug Gibbs. Each time Jihan
received a treatment of Healing Touch or Reiki, she
wrote an e-mail journal entry about it, describing not
only her own internal response to the treatment but also
the practitioner's insights, instructions and
procedures. As a journal therapist, I was elated to read
this dual perspective, as I know that writing in detail
about a healing experience does wonders to anchor it
into the body at a cellular level. Jihan's capacity to
integrate and synthesize in writing her healing
experiences -- Healing Touch, Reiki, chemotherapy, love
of family and friends, spiritual direction, nutrition --
offered to an audience of concerned and compassionate
Others who were willing to simply witness and receive
without judgment or argument, played a pivotal role in
her healing process.
Eight months later, after completion of her first
round of chemotherapy, and after weekly Healing Touch
and Reiki sessions and hundreds of e-mail journal
entries, Jihan's MRIs showed…… no trace of
cancer in her liver or her breast. Her oncologist is
frankly amazed. So, for that matter, are the rest of us,
although we gladly embrace the opportunity to adjust to
The treatment, and the healing, continues. Jihan is
now on a second, much less disruptive, chemotherapy
protocol. Her weekly Healing Touch sessions continue, as
does weekly Reiki, as do near-daily e-mail journal
entries. Her family and friends still offer abiding love
and support. Her laughter is back, as is her hair. Her
granddaughter Bella has celebrated her first birthday,
mastered walking, and begun speaking English. Jihan
lives in a state of deep gratitude and peace. And
standing as permanent testament and chronicle of this
extraordinary year is a manuscript-length journal of
grace and grit, surrender and serenity, courage and
challenge, healing words and Healing Touch. May it be
© 2001 Kathleen
Adams. All rights reserved.
Kathleen Adams LPC, RPT is a
Registered Poetry/Journal Therapist and Director of The
Center for Journal Therapy in Lakewood, Colorado. She is
one of the leading voices on the power of writing to
heal and is the author of four books, including Journal
to the Self and The Write Way to Wellness.
Her upcoming seminars include the annual 5-day women’s
writing retreat in Colorado July 8-13, and a one-day
Journal to the Self workshop in Denver in late July. She
would love your feedback on this column; please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
or stop by her website, www.journaltherapy.com.
Kathleen's Past "Scribing the Soul" Columns:
2001 "Love Letters"
the Authentic Self"
2000 "Riding the Inky Wave"
2000 "The Good News"
2000 "Soul Food: Exploring Affirmations in
2000 "Diary of a Headache"
2000 "Making Up the Truth"
2000 "Pockets of Joy"
2000 "Five Ways to Scribe Your Intuition"
Kathleen's Feature Article on Dream Journals:
in the Dark: Cracking the Soul's Code Through Dream