19 February 2017

A to Z on living and dying

Being an obsessive list-maker, if given the assignment to sum up the things Hubby’s cancer taught us about living and dying—and if the assignment required an alphabetized list—it would look something like this (you’re going to need to work with me on a couple of these):


Photo credit: Pixabay


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19 February 2017

Reflections on the restorative qualities of tea

To some perhaps a frivolous topic, but when it comes to dealing with life’s challenges, the simple act of brewing a cup of tea and sitting in a favorite chair, whispering a prayer and silently reflecting on all the blessings that are still evident despite the challenges, and then placing some of the weight on paper—a list of things to be done but not right this minute—well, right there, half the battle won. With tea leading the charge.


Photo credit: Unsplash


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14 February 2017

Is this how death should be?

Mom-in-law Ivalene died this week from complications due to pancreatic cancer. We thought we had six to twelve months left with her. And then the call: “She’s in transition. The hospice nurse doesn’t think she’ll last through the day.”


Photo credit: Unsplash


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6 February 2017

Widowhood: 5 mistakes I’ll never make again

Too bad it sometimes takes losing something of unspeakable value to appreciate what we had; that it takes mistakes to teach us some of life’s most critical lessons.


Photo credit: Kattaryna Stiles


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30 January 2017

Cancer and counter-culture courage

Since bringing mom-in-law Ivalene home from the hospital, we’ve been hit with the crud. The most energy I’ve expended has been heating up chicken noodle soup and making mugs of TheraFlu and throwing a fleece blanket into the dryer to tuck around my chilled mother-in-law.


Photo credit: Unsplash


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22 January 2017

Stupid cancer

On a snowy day in Boise, mom-in-law Ivalene checked into the emergency room — quite yellow. In the process of correcting her outrageous skin color, pancreatic cancer was discovered.


Photo credit: Unsplash


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16 January 2017

Why you should write a Life Review letter. Soon.

The title of a New York Times piece written by a palliative physician, Dr. VJ Periyakoil—“Writing a ‘Last Letter’ When You’re Healthy”—caught my eye.


Photo credit: Pixabay


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8 January 2017

What a cancer warrior looks like

My friend, Michelle, is a cancer fighter. Although she doesn’t have cancer – nor do her husband or any close family members at present – she is, nevertheless, a fierce passionate dazzling cancer-kicking warrior.

Michelle approached us, back when I was on staff at St. Charles Cancer Center, with an idea: What about a weekly walking class for cancer patients, survivors, caregivers? she suggested which, in the four years since its inception, has come to be known as the Walking-For-Wellness-but-we’re-really-here-for-the-coffee-afterwards crew.


Photo credit: Jim Dailing


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1 January 2017

Can 2016 losses be turned into 2017 gains?

New beginnings have always energized me. The challenge of a new deadline, the anticipation of a change in seasons, the turning of calendar pages to a fresh, hope-filled New Year.

But what if we’re still reeling from loss as the calendar page turns? Is it possible to take the hard and turn it into good in 2017? It is.



Photo credit: Pixabay

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25 December 2016

5 life observations on this Christmas Day

While heartless unfeeling inconsiderate friends continue sending photos of piles of snow back home, I’m spending Christmas in New Jersey where there is no fluffy white stuff adorning the landscape.

But there’s been plenty of playing, laughing, squealing, listening to Christmas music, gift-giving, nerf gun wars, good eating, Chai tea sipping, Lego building, book reading going on here in Jersey.



Photo credit: Doug Oines


Which has contributed to 5 observations on important life issues this Christmas:

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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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