Author Gives Dying People a Voice through Creative Non-fiction! – by Patrice Rancour

Author Gives Dying People a Voice through Creative Non-fiction! – by Patrice Rancour

I am the author of two books, nine anthology book chapters, numerous web-based programs, and dozens of professional manuscripts. As an advanced practice nurse in the field of mental health, I have worked as a clinician, educator, and consultant for 46 years. During that time, I found that each of these roles helped enhance my knowledge of the others to a highly stimulating degree – an ingenious way to avoid burnout! I noticed that the way I perceived the work I was doing wasn’t represented anywhere in what I was reading. So I decided early on to submit a paper for publication in a professional journal. Once it was accepted, writing for publication became a creative outlet for me and I never looked back.

My professional interests within my chosen field have focused on spirituality and healing, loss and grief, psychoneuroimmunology, caring for people facing life-threatening illnesses, and the integration of complementary and alternative therapies into care, specifically using non-medication approaches to pain and stress management. These interests have propelled me into experiences with people that have been quite intimate, dealing with existential issues around death, dying and suffering.

Such experiences create great openings into explorations of conscious living and conscious dying, topics I find to be highly compelling. And, I believe many others find them compelling as well. I write for multiple reasons: to make sense of these experiences, many of which are ineffable, and therefore beg to be communicated to others, as well as to leave a legacy behind me. Perhaps it is a conceit to think that the world will have been a better place for my having lived in it but writing provides me with the hope that it might be so.

It is always such a pleasure to hear back from people who have read my work. I hear from patients who report that their health/illness journeys have been made a little less confusing or frightening after reading something I wrote and, because of that, their suffering has been reduced. Additionally, I hear from health care professionals who echo similar sentiments about their care-giving experiences. All such communication is deeply reinforcing, and motivates me to identify new concepts, and put them out there in response to a desire to be useful in the grander scheme of things.

Most everything I have written has been non-fiction, but my two books, Tales from the Pager Chronicles, and The Pager Chronicles, Volume II, were designed as creative non-fiction, a genre that “uses literary styles and techniques to create factually accurate narratives.” (Wikipedia) The experiences I had working with people facing life-threatening illnesses were deeply powerful and I felt the need to give them voices in a less technical way than I customarily used. I was interested not only in exploring their humanity facing and often transcending suffering, but also how their experiences affected me as a care-giver. As a number of people have noted, often the way to an open heart is to have it broken. Certainly, working with people at this level is a heart-opening experience.

Perhaps you yourself are facing a serious illness, or find yourself taking care of somebody who is. If so, I send you much love on your journey, and in the spirit of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey, remind you to hold yourself larger. While not everything is fixed, not everything is broken either.

When I am not involved in such work, I find myself involved in the arts, traveling, gardening, or volunteering in the field of environmental conservation. If you are interested, you can learn more about my work at


The Pager Chronicles books, written in the narrative nonfiction tradition, follow the protagonist as she goes from one patient to the next, prompted by her pager, in the research cancer hospital in which she works. Her 32 patients run the gamut from the expected elderly patients receiving death with dignity to newly diagnosed patients in denial. The unexpected comes into play with Gypsies, Native American healers, Jesus-over-the shoulder, and a widow’s black-cloud exorcism. All this and their families, too!

Her pager provides the literary device that moves her from one patient scenario to the next, encountering patients who are trying not merely to survive their illnesses, but to transcend them. These personal stories of healing are set against the backdrop of the unfolding events of 9/11.

Rancour has an honest, humane, funny, and poetic style. She sweeps you along with her compassion, her wit, and her unerring ability to see into the truth of the matter. This book is for anyone who has an interest in what goes on in the patient rooms, hallways, stairwells, and elevators of a cancer hospital. You won’t be able to put it down.

patrice rancour picturePatrice Rancour is a master’s prepared nurse with 46 years of experience in the mental health field as a clinician, educator and consultant. She received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing at Ohio State University. Special areas of interest include spirituality and healing, complementary and alternative therapies, compassion fatigue, psychoneuroimmunology, end-of-life care, grief and loss, and working with people who have life-threatening illnesses. She has published extensively and has given numerous conference and symposium presentations.





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