Every day, kids’ power is taken away by serious or chronic illness and disability.  Rose and I wanted to give sick kids a way to discover their inner power, through journal writing.

From our first workshop for kids with brain tumors, we have truly been inspired to see the strength kids gain by facing their illness straight on.

Read our personal stories to better understand why we wrote Digging Deep.

Sheri’s Story

From my own personal health journey battling a brain tumor in my early twenties, I saw firsthand how critical it is to openly share one’s feelings around illness.  While I was being treated for my tumor, my family’s mantra was “stay positive.” Believe me, we tried.  But my most powerful memories are the one or two times when my parents cried with me.  It was a relief to acknowledge that what we were going through as a family was anything but normal.  True support came from my parents sharing their feelings with me, thus allowing me to show them mine.

At the time, there was no tool like Digging Deep to help my parents and me open up and simply be sad together. If I had been able to work on a book like this with my family, we would have had so many more opportunities to share those feelings and move past them.

Through volunteering with kids in hospitals for many years, I came to realize what is missing for sick kids and their families: a way to talk directly about what is going on.  Although there were a number of incredible organizations out there helping ease the emotional burden of being sick, for the most part they were focused on distraction, not on building kids’ and teens’ skills to express and communicate their feelings and build their emotional endurance.

My dream with Digging Deep is that kids will learn the life long skills of introspection and honest communication, and be transformed by their illnesses in a positive way, as I believe I was.

Rose’s Story

I ask a lot of questions.  I always have.  And then I listen.  I love where questions lead me.  I love learning about people – what brings them joy and what challenges them; I want to know their stories.  One of my greatest passions is guiding people as they find their own voices by listening, writing, and sharing.

Recently I was working with a five-year-old girl using Digging Deep. The girl couldn’t write yet, so I was her scribe.  She told me a story about a little girl who was in the hospital with asthma, afraid of the doctors, the hospitals, and the tests, and afraid of being alone in the dark.

But then she realized that the medicine, the pumps, and the treatments made her feel better, and she was going to be all right.  The girl felt safe.  By the end of the story she told me, I could see a noticeable difference – a sense of pride she had gained from finding her own way and having someone else witness her transformation.  Even though she was shy, she was able to honestly tell me her story and smile at the outcome.

It is my belief that journaling has the power to help us discover our unique voice, connect with our inner wisdom, and help us heal.  Asking ourselves uncomfortable questions isn’t easy, but those questions open our minds and help us connect with our own hearts.  It’s this deep awareness that allows us to find our voice and trust it.

Our stories have the power to inspire, to heal, and to guide us in the direction of our hopes and dreams.  Our stories can change our lives.

Sheri Brisson
Sheri Sobrato Brisson is a brain tumor survivor who discovered the importance of self-reflection during her recovery. From her personal illness experience and a dozen years supporting families and children with serious illness, her life’s philanthropic mission is to empower families and children facing serious illness. She has started and facilitated support groups for children with illness and their families for over twenty years with organizations such as the American Cancer Society, National Brain Tumor Foundation, Ronald McDonald House, and Packard Children’s Hospital. She has served as Board Member for many children’s health nonprofit organizations including American Cancer Society San Jose, UCSF/Mt. Zion Auxiliary, Creighton Health Institute, and Okizu Foundation. Brisson received her master’s degree in counseling from Santa Clara University and her undergraduate degree in human biology from Stanford University.
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