About Sharon

Sharon Bray, Ed.D.

(photo by Chad Thompson)
photo by Chad Thompson

Best known for my expressive writing workshops with cancer and heart patients, my work was initiated by my experience with an early-stage cancer diagnosis in 2000. My love of writing was re-ignited as well as my interest in James Pennebaker’s research on the health benefits of writing. I began leading expressive writing workshops for cancer patients a few months later. Those experiences led me to leave a corporate career and focus on what I loved best: writing and teaching. For the past 22 years, I’ve initiated several writing programs, focused on encouraging individuals’ stories of illness, loss and life. Begun while living in California, I led expressive writing programs at several California cancer centers and non-profits, including Bay Area Breast Cancer Network, Stanford , Scripps Clinic, and UCSD Moores’ Cancer Centers. 

While living in California, I was diagnosed with heart failure in 2008, and after returning to Toronto in 2017, I became a cardiac patient at Peter Munk Cardiac Center. My cardiologist was interested in my work, and in 2021, a new series for cardiac patients began. Writing the Heart, continues to be offered through the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research. I was honored with a UHN Patient Partner award for my work with TRCHR. Finally, in early 2022, another series began with UHN’s Center for Living Organ Donation: Writing Your Transplant Story, offered for the first time in the late spring of 2022.

Since I began my practice, I’ve been fortunate to lead workshops for other groups such as Young Adult Cancer Canada, as well as healthcare conferences in Canada and the US, including CURE Today forums, Writers’ Symposium by the Sea, University of Illinois, and the Omega Institute. For a number of years, I was was an instructor of creative and transformational writing for UCLA extension’s “Writers’ Program,” DeAnza College, and the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. From 2005 – 2017, I was especially honored to lead the “Writers’ Workshop at Stanford Medical School” series (a part of Stanford’s “Medicine & the Muse” program founded by Audrey Shafer,MD), which included faculty, alumni, and medical students. This blog emerged in 2006 and continues to be informed by my many workshops, since becoming a resource for anyone living with a serious or life-threatening illness and now titled “When Life Hurts, Writing Can Help,” (http://www.whenlifehurtswriting.ca)

My master’s degree was earned at Mt. St. Vincent University in Halifax, my doctoral degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Toronto, and I later completed additional studies in creative and transformative writing.  I’ve written and published two books on the healing experience of expressive writing for cancer patients, co-edited an anthology of cancer patients’ writings for Stanford University, and written several articles on the healing power of expressive writing. I make my home in Toronto together with my husband, a retired psychologist, and our rescue dog, “Maggie.”

* * * * *

To Contact me: Email: sharon@sharonbray.ca