22 September 2015

Remembering Hubby on his birthday, our anniversary

The plan was to bring the remainder of Hubby’s ashes with me. But I forgot them.

Which means I have to return to Switzerland. Have to.

Today we hiked up into the mountains below the Matterhorn. Hubby would have loved it. The exercise. The beauty. The mountain air. This fabulous group of fellow trekkers.





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16 September 2015

4 secrets for viewing cancer as an adventure

Hubby and I took up hiking and snowshoeing in our cancer years. We hiked the magnificent Cascades, Tetons and Rockies. And started stashing away loose change for some Swiss Alps hiking.

Hubby got his passport; I got mine renewed. And our loose change grew large enough to book a trip. But we ran out of time. And so I saved a few of Hubby’s ashes. And I’m leaving tomorrow for a ten-day walking tour in Switzerland.


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Go Ahead Tours photo


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11 September 2015

How cancer gave us date night

I wanted to hike alone on this Friday date night so I could talk with Hubby out loud without anyone knowing how weird I really am:

“I remember the last time you and I hiked this trail. The chemo had almost worked its way out of your system, but you were exhausted from radiation treatments. You decided we’d walk part way before we turned around. We sat on the outcropping of rocks on the east side of the river and ate our lunch. And you were in good spirits, even though we didn’t make the full 3.2-mile loop.

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“The times I’ve cried since you’ve been gone are when I think about how much you suffered at the end. You are still my hero. And I’m grateful for so many fabulous memories along so many trails. In the Cascades. The Rockies. The Tetons. With you.”

This is what I said out loud to Hubby this evening along the Deschutes River trail — a trail we’ve hiked a couple hundred times together. And it was not sorrowful to walk alone and remember.

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10 September 2015

Cancer diets and why the husband doesn’t write the rules

A few years into Hubby’s cancer diagnosis—after we had started eating more fruits, veggies and whole grains and fewer chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake and chocolate ice cream—Hubby makes up a rule. “On my birthday, I get to eat whatever I want.”

OK, I’ll allow one rule.


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September 22, 2013 – Steamboat Springs, Colorado


Hence, the ganache. Essentially dark chocolate rolled in a light dusting of crumbs and quickly deep fried. With gelato on the side. And drizzled with additional dark chocolate.

I don’t make these things up.

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8 September 2015

7 powerful sentences – cancer or not

There’s an old proverb that goes like this: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Words are powerful. We have the capacity to speak death and discouragement, or life and hope to the people we love.

Here are 7 life-giving sentences that I spoke to Hubby. Often. But they’re not just for cancer caregivers; they can be modified and spoken by anyone, anywhere:

1. Thank you for asking me to marry you. And, by the way, it still baffles me how you got the nerve to propose after our first date. But that’s a story for another time.

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Courtesy Unsplash Stock Photo

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4 September 2015

Get rid of small-picture thinking

On my way to meeting up with friends, I noticed a new piece of art in the Old Mill District. Close up, it’s not exactly what you would call pretty.


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But take a step back and see what you see.


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29 August 2015

Why and how to believe for the impossible

Upon discovering that I left my heart in Bend, Oregon, I wrote this goal: “Relocate back.” The only [huge] problem is that affordable housing and Bend, Oregon aren’t synonymous.

Word gets around, though, and I am currently in a lovely guest house high on the side of a hill. With my own deck and sweeping views. For pennies. I know, impossible.


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25 August 2015

The September 22 challenge

By day, she is mild-mannered cancer survivor, wife, mom, grandma, hospital volunteer and frequenter of gyms for 6:30am work-outs.

But once she detects the slightest sign of distress in anyone, she dons her Porch Fairy cape—very similar to the Wonder Woman cape—and stealthily leaves all manner of comforting items on front porches. Stealthily. (Actually, I caught the Porch Fairy as she was driving up today. Which was probably a good thing because my new home has no front porch. But as you can see, the rocks work quite nicely.)


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19 August 2015

Cancer care team … or top 5 ways to avoid looking like a tourist

It was a year ago this month that Hubby’s mom, siblings and spouses converged on central Oregon. We had never done a siblings-and-mom-in-law vacation together. Best cancer medicine for Hubby.

Jane Howard said this:

Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe … whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.


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Whether they realized it or not, the people in this clan were all a critical part of Hubby’s cancer team.

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16 August 2015

How not to prepare for a hike

Exactly a year ago, Hubby pushed me out the door to meet up with our cancer-kicking hike posse. It turned out to be a hard day. Because a critical component was missing.

From that experience, I had assumed that any future hikes on trails Hubby and I had conquered together would not be all that much fun. But I was wrong.


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 At the top of Green Lakes trail – August 15, 2015


There’s a major difference between hiking and leaving your beloved at home … and hiking because your beloved is no longer in the picture and he would want you to enjoy life.

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About Me

Hello, my name is Marlys Johnson. I’m a cancer widow, author, speaker and blogger. I love getting outdoors; would rather lace up hiking boots than go shopping. I have a passion for repurposing old junk into cool new stuff. And an even greater passion for showing people how to navigate life's challenges. Tenaciously. And with heart wide open.

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