HealthAlliance Oncology Support Memoir Group Abigail Thomas

“We are a storytelling species. Every human being has tales to tell, and the impulse to pass them along—both to loved ones and strangers—is primal. So is the urge to leave something behind when mortality calls. The remarkable new anthology holding on, letting go (OSP Memoir Group, 2013) collects stories by people who’ve learned to look death in the eye and to savor life’s gifts. It’s hard to imagine more meaningful work.

The Oncology Support Program was founded by Barbara Sarah, a breast cancer survivor and one of holding on, letting go’s 15 contributors. Now in its 20th year, OSP offers support groups and counseling, with Healing Arts programs in photography, theatre, art, writing, and music; Ellen Marshall MS, LCSW, is its director. For the past five years, this vibrant program has been housed in the Reuner Cancer Support House at 80 Mary’s Avenue, across from the hospital.” – Nina Shengold, Chronogram, October 2013. Read the article in Chronogram.

Abigail Thomas holding on letting go memoir

Abigail Thomas (A Three Dog Life; Safekeeping) leads the Memoir Group at Kingston’s Oncology Support Program of the HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley. In 2011, after her daughter was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, the bestselling memoirist volunteered to lead a five-week writing workshop. Nearly two years later, it’s still going strong, with a waiting list forming for a second group. “There was just so much talent,” she says. “Extraordinary talent. How could you stop?”

Abigail Thomas, the daughter of renowned science writer Lewis Thomas (The Lives of a Cell), is the mother of four children and the grandmother of twelve. Her academic education stopped when, pregnant with her oldest daughter, she was asked to leave Bryn Mawr during her first year. She’s lived most of her life on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and was for a time a book editor and for another time a book agent. Then she started writing for publication. Her memoir, A Three Dog Life, was named one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post. She is also author of Safekeeping, a memoir, and Thinking About Memoir.

When Thomas can’t write she paints on glass. She lives in Woodstock, NY with her three dogs.

Photo of Abigail Thomas: Jennifer Waddell, Photo of Group: Roy Gumpel

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