The Write Prescription


“An invaluable companion as one walks the world of medical treatments. For many, this process could be life-saving or at least life-altering.”New Spirit Journal

A hands-on, hearts-on guide to writing about illness. Using intimate prompts and personal stories, Judith Hannan takes the reader and emerging-writer on a journey through what it means to reckon with illness. Having gone through her daughter’s cancer diagnosis and treatments, Hannan is an experienced, thoughtful, and caring guide for anyone wanting to find a way through the labyrinth of the illness experience.

Motherhood Exaggerated

“The dramatic language, both highly descriptive and emotional, rings with the unforgiving pain and fear of this terrifying disease . . . The amplification of the lives of Judith and her daughter, Nadia, are felt as you read this deep and loving book.” —Carly Simon

In her emotionally uncompromising memoir, Motherhood Exaggerated, Judith Hannan recounts the ordeal of her young daughter’s battle with cancer and how the frightening medical journey tested and strengthened a mother’s resilience.

About Judith Hannan
Judith Hannan is the author of Motherhood Exaggerated (CavanKerry Press, 2012), her memoir of discovery and transformation during her daughter’s cancer treatment and her transition into survival. Her most recent book is The Write Prescription: Telling Your Story to Live With and Beyond Illness. Her essays have appeared in such publications as Woman’s Day, The Forward, Brevity, Cognoscenti, Opera News, The Huffington Post, The Healing Muse, ZYZZYVA, Twins Magazine and The Martha’s Vineyard Gazette. Ms. Hannan is a lecturer at Yale University where she is working on a pilot study to document the healing power of storytelling. She teaches writing about personal experience to homeless mothers and at-risk adolescents as well as to medical students, and is a writing mentor with the Visible Ink program which serves patients at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. In June, 2016, Ms. Hannan joined the faculty of the inaugural Narrative Medicine program at Kripalu. She is a judge of the annual essay contest sponsored by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation and a recipient of the Foundation’s 2015 Humanism-in-Medicine award. Ms. Hannan serves on the board of the Children’s Museum of Manhattan and on three boards affiliated with the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York—the Adolescent Health (where she now serves as President of the Advisory Board), the Children’s Center Foundation, and the Arnhold Global Health Institute. She lives in New York.
News and Events

Park La Brea

Thursday, June 1st

7-8 pm

Author reading & signing with Hope Edelman (Motherless Daughters) and Lisa Napoli (Radio Shangri-La)

475 S. Curson Ave,

Los Angeles, CA 90036…

Writing Prompts


Here is a selection of poems and essays I use frequently as prompts in my writing workshops—see where they inspire you to go in your next piece.

Writing about the Body

“The Body is Not an Apology” by Sonya Renee

“This Old Man” by Roger Angell.…

Read More →


The above line comes from writer, philosopher, and cancer survivor Mark Nepo’s book, The Exquisite Risk. Nepo had traveled to South Africa and was struck that person after person suffering extraordinary hardship would sing, as if song were both protection and nourishment.…

Read More →


Nearly every story about illness that I have read arrives eventually at one question, “Why?”  Even the person who says he or she never asked why is really saying, “I asked myself why but the only answer I could come up with was why not.”…

Read More →


Lucy Grealy was in the fourth grade when she entered Ward 10 at what was then named Babies Hospital in New York City to begin treatment for a Ewings sarcoma.  In her book, Autobiography of a Face, Grealy describes the ward—its green and gray tones, the worn patches on the floor, the wooden doors, the bars on the windows. …

Read More →


The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger is filled with characters—boat captains and fishermen, lovers and mothers, Coast Guard rescuers and meteorologists.  But the main character is the storm itself; the meeting of Hurricane Grace with two other storm systems results in a weather phenomenon so massive it becomes the story’s protagonist. …

Read More →


It was time to disconnect by Aunt Essie from the machines that were helping her feign life.  Nine of us were gathered, including Essie’s daughter Miriam.  As we waited for the doctor, we engaged in a restless choreography—forming in clusters in Essie’s cluttered room, pacing the hallways when Miriam asked for time alone with her mother, leaning against walls, sitting with eyes staring sightless or with heads lowered into palms, making unnecessary trips to the bathroom or to make a phone call to sip fresher air into our lungs. …

Read More →


I have recently begun a guided meditation practice the purpose of which is to call up and then neutralize negative forces and thoughts.  My teacher tells me to name these thoughts—Anna, Rachel, Sue, etc.—so when I meet them during the day I have a concrete way of acknowledging their presence. …

Read More →


We are all creators of lists.  Whether we write them down in an organizer, keep them in our head, or post them on the refrigerator, we all keep running tallies of what we need at the grocery store, what we must pack for a trip, who we have to invite to a birthday party, questions we have for a doctor. …

Read More →


Illness is a waiting room.  It punches holes in hours, days, and weeks.  You wait to see or be seen, to tell or be told, to get the phone call, be released; for the pain to arrive, the relief to start, the picture to be developed, a piece of time when your life feels like the old one. …

Read More →


Where are the words that are spoken by the bedsides of patients in the hospital?  I imagine that over each one of those beds is a dome made up of the conversations between mothers and fathers, doctors and family members, spouses and children. …

Read More →


“The first trip to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is like arriving anywhere new.  A plane takes you down through thick clouds, a train moves you through a dark tunnel, a bus pulls up to the rear of a terminal while you paint images in your head of this foreign land soon to be revealed … We are the pale new arrivals at the beachside resort, catching a glimpse of a sliver of its life.” …

Read More →


I do not write in a linear fashion.  Motherhood Exaggerated began as a skeleton, but when it came to fleshing it out and clothing it, my process bore more resemblance to the path of a pinball than a train traveling from depot to depot. …

Read More →


I recently read about a study which showed that walking through a leafy, green area can reduce brain fatigue. What can be more draining than illness—on your brain, your body, your heart, your soul. Telling a story is like a walk.…

Read More →