22 August 2016

Why telling our stories can be healing

I met this amazing young woman, Sarah Thebarge, at a writers’ conference in Portland this past week. Because of Sarah, I’m rewriting my memoir, and grateful for her input.



Photo credit: Pixabay


Continue Reading

14 August 2016

So, um, this week’s date night

One of the things cancer did was motivate Hubby and me to establish a standing Friday night date. I’ve blogged about this in the past, and how — pathetically — I’ve maintained date night alone most Fridays since Hubby died.

This week’s date seemed more important to me. Perhaps because I’ve been out of town the last couple of Fridays, and I’m headed out again on Monday for a couple weeks.


IMG_8825 (1)

Deschutes River trail


And so I laced up my trekking shoes and headed to the Deschutes River trail. I can’t tell you how many times Hubby and I hiked along this river. Close to half a million times. Roughly. Give or take a few.

Continue Reading

9 August 2016

A few thoughts on missed opportunities

My Grandpa Mallory was one of eight children who grew up on a dairy farm in Marengo, Wisconsin. I remember my dad’s stories of sneaking away to go skinny dipping in the river as a brief escape from all the work that came with being a boy on that same farm.



The Mallory clan – my grandfather is standing back row, middle


Not too long ago, my brother sent a photo of an out-dated Mallory family reunion flyer. I recognized the name on the flyer – Lee Westlund. Westlunds were first cousins to the Mallorys. And so I did a little online sleuthing and found myself talking with my cousin. A cousin I hadn’t seen since I was in junior high. Pretty incredible thing, right there.

“I’m going to try and attend the family reunion this year,” I told him.

Continue Reading

4 August 2016

Extreme Ownership: How cancer patients lead and win

After Hubby was diagnosed with late stage prostate cancer, we recruited a full team to help us face down this disease. Gary was the coach; I signed on as assistant coach.

From their best-selling book on leadership, Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win, this from former Seals Jocko Willink and Leif Babin:

Leadership is the most important thing on any battlefield … there are no bad teams, only bad leaders.




Continue Reading

31 July 2016

One of your hugs would be nice right now

A road trip to Idaho this week. Alone. Hung out with my fabulous in-laws. Walked a trail I hadn’t been on since hiking it with Hubby. Missing him more than normal. One of his hugs would be nice right now.




Continue Reading

26 July 2016

5 easy steps for creating community

Alicia Rosales, survivorship program navigator at St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute, also serves on the board of River Discovery, an Idaho non-profit that offers white water adventures for people dealing with cancer.

“Do you want to come on a 3-day camping/rafting adventure?” she asked. “As part of the volunteer staff?” Yeahhhh.


944931_1017600564998974_612931226995471100_n (2)

Cover girl Alicia Rosales

Continue Reading

21 July 2016

Sarah’s poem — I am still me

My young cancer-widowed friend, Sarah, let me read a couple of her poems recently. I was amazed. Beautiful stuff. She writes honestly and vulnerably as she wonders if she’ll ever find who she is again. And yet her work is hope-filled.



Jill Rosell Photography


Continue Reading

17 July 2016

3 great reasons to have gratitude on your team

When cancer showed up (on top of financial setbacks), I’m sorry to say I did my share of whining. For the most part it wasn’t out loud, but there was a definite lack of gratitude in my heart for much of anything.

There are some concepts, though, that we all sort of know. And one of those concepts is that whining achieves no good. At all. Eventually, gratitude became a critical member of our cancer team.




Continue Reading

14 July 2016

12 simple ways to get back into life

This past weekend was the annual Tour des Chutes — a multi-distance cycling event and walk/run to benefit central Oregon families dealing with cancer. Founded by cycling enthusiast and brain cancer survivor Gary Bonacker, the event has surpassed the million-dollar mark in fundraising. Which is pretty amazing for a small-town, grassroots venture.

But then, my friend, Gary, is pretty amazing. Because he’s been instrumental in this endeavor with part of the brain tumor that couldn’t be removed surgically still causing havoc all these years. If anyone knows how to do life with adversity, it would be Gary.



Gary Bonacker


Continue Reading

10 July 2016

What grief is not

This from an unknown author:

Grief never ends. But it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith. It is the price of love.

When I read the first part — about grief never ending — I thought, That’s not true. Because it feels as if my grief over losing Hubby to cancer has ended.



Photo credit: Pixabay


Continue Reading

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.

Read More