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.


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Cover girl Alicia Rosales

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21 July 2016

Sarah’s poem — I am still me

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



Jill Rosell Photography


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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.




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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


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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


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3 July 2016

How loving someone is like moving into a house

When I married Hubby, we didn’t know each other very well. We met one weekend, wrote for nearly a year—continents apart—and then on our first date, he proposed.

After that first date, I re-boarded a plane, and we planned a wedding long distance. Which meant all our dating and getting to know one another took place after we were husband and wife.


View More: http://kristinalee.pass.us/garymarlys

Photo credit: Simply Kristina Lee Photography


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26 June 2016

What a great support team looks like

A spontaneous group hug from The Littles—can you count all four heads?—took place at the train station in New Jersey after hanging out with the youngest of my support team members. (The Teens, of course, are way too cool to do group hugs. Not that either of them were even out of bed when this photo was taken, this being summer vacation.)


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Part of my support team


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19 June 2016

Father’s Day without Hubby

I’m somewhere in the U.S. with six grandkids, and I’ve shooed The Parents away for an out-of-town escape to recharge their batteries. Hint: It’s known as the Garden State and it’s clear on the other side of the world continent from my home in Oregon.


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The Grands


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16 June 2016

How to dare greatly

Granddaughter Lilly, a black belt in Mixed Martial Arts, recently competed in a Tiger Schulmann MMA tournament and captured two 3rd place finishes. On the way home, she FaceTimed and of course she was disappointed because she has some rather nice 1st-place hardware in her room at home.


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But by the time she and her dad stopped for lunch and she posted a photo to Instagram, here was her caption:

Win or lose, I left it all on the mats today.

I have a very wise 15-year-old granddaughter.

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12 June 2016

Letter to my newly-widowed self

Dear newly-widowed Marlys — I’m now 19 months into widowhood, and while there are quite possibly more things ahead to deal with, for the most part I’m feeling pretty seasoned.

You’re a newbie. And you’re overwhelmed. So for this moment, make a cup of Chai tea—knowing how much you and I love Chai—and put your feet up to read this letter. Remember to breathe.


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Photo credit: Pixabay


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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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