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Legacy Therapy

Capturing Our Live's Stories

The U-M Rogel Cancer Center's Legacy Program provides a therapeutic outlet for patients and their families using creative arts activities as a form of expression. A legacy therapist guides individuals in legacy activities, providing a wide assortment of projects and supplies to help navigate the journey of life review and reminiscence through creative expression and discovery.

The Benefits of Legacy Activities

Regardless of their place along the treatment continuum, people with cancer can benefit from legacy therapy, which creates opportunities for the capturing and telling of life's moments or stories-whether big or small.

Sometimes people don't want to talk about their cancer experience but will share other stories from their life, so it is important to go with what will be therapeutic for each person. Every person's life is distinct, so each story is expressed in a unique way through its use of pictures, video, audio, writing, art making and other permanent forms of expression.

Research shows that expression through making art has a positive impact on pain management, depression, anxiety, and stress reduction. Further, writing about a life's story and reminiscing can improve mood, quality of life, and reduce suffering and depression. Studies also suggest that factors such as psychological adjustment, attitude, and active coping contribute to a slower progression of disease.

Legacy activities might also positively impact the quality of treatment experiences through effectively communicating the experience to others in a multisensory approach.

How the Legacy Program Works

Through legacy therapy, participants are encouraged to examine both positive and negative life experiences and to explore whether severe life events can result in positive outcomes like improved self-concept, coping skills, social relationships and enrichment of life. Activities include:

  • Creative Writing
  • Lifelines / Family Tree
  • Photography / Film
  • Art / Music
  • Visual/Digital Storytelling (see for examples)

The Legacy Program is available at no charge in individual, family and group settings to any interested patient and family member. The Rogel Cancer Center provides not only the know-how and guidance (no previous experience is necessary), but the materials as well.

Contact us at 877-907-0859 with questions or to make an appointment


This program is made possible through charitable donations to the Complementary Therapies Program and is offered at no cost to participants. Learn how you can help by visiting our Make a Gift web pages

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