26 July 2015

The long, slow, sweet good-bye

About this time last year began the long, slow, sweet good-bye. We had reached the place of no more curative care options, no more clinical trials. Any treatment from this point on was for pain management and quality of life. Uber-optimist that I am — even I knew that Hubby was dying.

This quote from one of my favorite philosophers, Winnie the Pooh:

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying good-bye so hard.

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22 July 2015

4 ways to face fear

There’s this really great quote that I posted to Facebook just before flying east to spend a week in Puerto Rico with family. This, by Eleanor Roosevelt:

Do one thing every day that scares you.

And so I signed up for stand-up paddle boarding lessons and traversed down a lazy green river in the beautiful interior of Puerto Rico.



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17 July 2015

4 lessons we can learn from a cancer hero

After he was diagnosed with brain cancer, Gary Bonacker—co-owner of a popular bike shop in Bend, Oregon—founded a multi-distance cycling event. Tour des Chutes. Named after the Deschutes River that runs through the middle of town.


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Dave Adams photo

Its mission? To support cancer care and survivorship for children and adults in central Oregon.

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10 July 2015

4 thoughts on living well – from paradise

I’m in paradise. In a Puerto Rican villa by the sea. Celebrating the twentieth wedding anniversary of Son Jeremy and DIL Denise. There are thirteen of us here — friends and family members — and making the decision to attend was part of my commitment to living well as a widow.


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So what exactly does *living well* look like?

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6 July 2015

7 doable tips for eating better

When Hubby was first diagnosed, we asked the physicians what we could do in addition to treatment. One urologist said, “I heard lycopene is good for prostate cancer, and tomatoes have lycopene, so you might want to eat more tomatoes.”

“Good,” said Hubby out of earshot of the doctor. “I’ll add more tomatoes to my Big Macs and I’ll be just fine.”

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2 July 2015

What you’ve always wanted to ask a cancer researcher

Operator of power tools by evenings and weekends; mad scientist by day. As the weeks passed—and as Steve Cosenza and his lovely wife, Debbie, continued dropping by to work on home and yard projects—I learned that Steve wasn’t just any ordinary mad scientist. He was a cancer researcher.


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30 June 2015

Managing stress and finding purpose – are they connected?

Getting outdoors was one of our favorite ways to manage the stress of Hubby’s cancer. In central Oregon, we laced up hiking boots and strapped on snowshoes. Here in southern California, it’s bike riding. Niece Heidi is visiting for the weekend, and one of the first things we did was hop on our bikes (not that Heidi is causing me any stress).


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24 June 2015

The Great Recycler

I once read a quote that referred to God as the great Recycler. Joan Wester Anderson writes this about the main character, Agnes, in the book Dear James:

Soon she will understand … that God is the great Recycler, that none of our experiences are ever wasted, and that he will make the wholeness of a new life out of broken pieces of the old—as long as we are willing to offer those pieces to him.

Perhaps this resonated with me because I love taking old junk and turning it into cool new stuff. Like this new table top. Made from 1×6’s that my friend Debbie and I glued to an almost-eight-foot door we found at ReStore, and set atop the old dining table.


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18 June 2015

Does it really take a village?

For the past six weeks, I’ve been chauffeur, cook, homework whip-cracker, ballet grandma, baseball cheerleader and mixed martial arts manager (if manager means getting Black Belt Girl to and from practices and competitions).


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And while I held down the fort with the three American grandchildren, Daughter Summer and SIL Josh were in Uganda dealing with the process of bringing home three brothers.

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14 June 2015

How to make this day count

A year ago this month Hubby began radiation. Cancer was spreading. To bones. To bladder. To liver.


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One of the things I think I did well for Hubby in his declining months was to set aside projects—which isn’t natural for this project-oriented girl—and simply be present for him. Reading companionably together. Playing Words with Friends. Trying new recipes to entice him to eat. Coaxing him outdoors.

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About Me

Hello, my name is Marlys Johnson. I’m an author, speaker, blogger. Cancer widow. Outdoor lover. 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 through the challenging things of life.

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