Shaping Your Lived Experience into a Public Narrative to Galvanize Others into Action
Information and Instructions

Stories are a powerful way to deliver a message and move others to action. Through stories, especially true stories recounting the lived experiences and choices of others, we can better understand others and ourselves. Cancer patient-survivors have first-hand experience to talk about the impact of diagnosis, treatment, and aftercare in a way that clinical staff and others cannot. These stories and perspectives play a crucial role in the health and political system, putting patients at the forefront of care where they belong.

Taking this a step further, we encourage survivor-patients, their family members and caregivers, and patient advocates-activists to utilize the “public narrative” framework to motivate others to unite in action on behalf of a shared purpose. Developed by Professor Marshall Louis Gantz, a public narrative is told in three parts: 1. A story of self, 2. A story of us, and 3. A story of now.

In creating your public narrative, you must ask yourself critical questions about your journey, think about how it relates to a larger community, and then reflect on your experiences to make a direct call to action.

A Story of Self

A Story of Us

A Story of Now

The story of self (or the story of you) tells others about the challenges you faced, the choices you made and the outcomes you experienced.

Be specific about one aspect of your journey. Examples may include learning about your family history or diagnosis or the challenges you faced during or after treatment.

  • What decision did you make?
  • How did you feel about your choice?
  • Where did you find courage or hope – or not?
  • How did this decision impact your outcomes and understanding of yourself?
  • How did the outcome feel and what did it teach you?

The Story of Us tells others the challenges you and your inner circle faced. 

  • Who will you call upon to join you in action?
  • How do your feelings and experiences relate to others?
  • What experiences and motivating values do you share?
  • Do you consider yourself part of a community, organization, movement, culture, nation, or other group of individuals?
  • What connects you?

A Story of Now defines your path moving forward.

  • What is your message and call to action?
  • What challenge might you call on others to face?
  • What could be done to drive effective change?
  • What vision could we achieve if we act?

Now that you understand the three parts of creating a public narrative, it’s time to get creative about the format in which you would like to tell your story.

Options include:

  • Written essay or blog (with or without photographs)
  • Photo essay (series of photographs with short captions detailing each part of the narrative)
  • Oral telling through a video recording (this may be edited to include footage and/or images you collected over time)

If you would like to tell your story and develop a public narrative that will be shared through the International Gynecologic Cancer Society (IGCS) and International Gynecologic Cancer Advocacy Network (IGCAN), please contact IGCS Communications Specialist, Debbie Leopold at

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