other side.

as always, what a week. it feels never ending; the days when you’re in the process of finding your way through to the other side of a scare. big ones. small ones. ones that come often. lumps. symptoms. side effects. it all kinda runs into one. at this point, i feel like a pro. recurrence is just a word that gets kinda jumbled into conversations with my team of doctors. it doesn’t bother me when someone suggests it or even wants to run imaging at this point. i would rather be safe than sorry. and maybe that just comes from how it all started. how advocacy became the game from the very beginning. how well i know myself from the inside out after literally being stripped of my existence. establishing new norms within myself has been one of the most taxing processes of them all. trying to begin to understand what feels new or different versus what just is reality. because when you sign your life away on dotted lines; both in an intensive care unit for a raging virus or when you’re alone in an oncology office- you become this person. different already. your whole life gets put to the side. you suddenly have to give yourself up to making it to the other side. for others. for your family. for the people who still want you around. for yourself. and it becomes really hard to manage all the emotions that go into saving your own life. and the things you have to do in order to make it out alive. for most, it probably seems really brave or heroic. for others, it’s probably this insane amount of strength and resilience. but it doesn’t always feel like that. it’s kinda lonely. and exhausting. it also feels very spotlight, one woman show sometimes. it feels heavy in responsibility and it also feels a little burdensome. staying alive during the fight for my life was easily the hardest thing i have ever done. and i have done it twice. and sometimes, it feels like even though the big scares and big tumors and big viruses are gone- that every day is another day of fighting to stay alive. that i can’t possibly do it again. that the other side is just as challenging. but it can be really hard to say that out loud. because with it comes the whole damn cheerleading squad. the one that’s laced with “but you already did the hardest part!” or my favorite “the recurrence rate is so low. don’t worry!” or a classic- “are you sure you’re not just overthinking it?” for sure. i am chronically overthinking. that’s my whole existence. but it also is how i caught my cancer strictly by accident. just before my thirty first birthday. with zeroooooo family history and a pretty historically clear medical record. one that is now over five hundred pages long. i had only broken my nose. never had stitches. never been in the back of an ambulance. no genetic mutations. no crazy birth stories. no scrapes on the playground or broken arms off a bicycle. never been in a cast or used crutches. my first, second and third surgeries were for cancer. my fourth will be to fix all the things that make me still feel broken. cancer rules the game. cancer calls the shots. cancer still lingers. bringing all the bells and whistles it can. and sure, i am a pro at getting what i want to clear the anxiety for a few more months. i can call and be in an mri machine before you all have had breakfast.

and my world continues to march on. and inside, i silently grieve the life i lost. the time i lost. the patience that’s thinning. the anxiety that’s just under the surface. the grieving of friends who continue to fight their cancer battles. and the immense grief when one never wins the war. the burials of five friends over the last two years. the survivor guilt. the pride. the advocating. the brushing off of the “i knew it was nothing!“ the arguments with the insurance company. the medical bills. the paper trail that has to exist in order for certain tests to happen. the shame. the worry that i worry too much. the worry that my story is too much. the worry that every scare is too much. the fear that there will one day be a scare that isn’t just a scare. the fear that my life could be uprooted and stripped away again. that this process- this whole building it all from the ground up thing- will be even harder next time. that my soul is kinda tired. and that every time i mention the cancer’s potential dreadful return & i am wrong- i feel ashamed. for causing a scene. for bothering anyone. for suggesting it need any thought or attention. because the other side- well for a while, it felt like this far away place. and once i made it here after a gruesome battle with cancer and an eight day stay in intensive care; well, it never felt right. it never fit. never filled my soul or healed my wounds. it’s been rocky and uncomfortable. it’s been lonely and painful. it’s been ugly and heartbreaking. it’s been this constant shedding of different parts of an old identity. it’s been this transformative time. one that feels a little never ending. it hasn’t been a good time- which i think is what is often expected. it’s been a lot of growing pains and a lot of work on healing. it’s hard to say it but it’s still not finished. after all this time. it’s still not healed. my heart still feels like it’s a little broken. my body still feels incomplete and not finished. my soul feels tired and each time i feel something off, it takes me back to the very beginning. waiting for the other side.

and i know that the other side has a lot to offer. and i know that the other side is pretty beautiful. and i know i am meant to be here on the other side. and believe me, i know it’ll someday feel like it fits me perfectly. this is the other side. and sometimes, the universe likes to shove me back to the other other side. and both have their drama. and both are sides i have visited.

and right now, i am just trying to build a home on this side. and it’s taking longer than i would like. and it feels shameful. and embarrassing. and lonely. and full of emotions that just cannot be understood. but i am here. with my tools and hard hat- just trying to build something beautiful and secure on this other side.



the last few days have been thick with emotions. it feels like a lot of my blog posts start that way but i am starting to realize that my life is just a really emotional place to be. and if i am being honest with you and even myself, a lot of this emotional stuff simply comes from having high expectations of my life after battling cancer. and i know, i know- cancer and my journey and everything that has happened in the last two years feels like all my brain can spell out. and right now, the expectations of life after cancer; welllll, they aren’t hitting like i thought they would. and don’t get me wrong- it’s a pleasure to be here. for sure. but it also feels kinda lame that the hard work and pure hell of cancer led to a pretty lame medical existence afterwards. and today was supposed to be the end of it all. the end of this messy, uncomfortable and ugly hell that started with an infectious virus and led to this snowball of events- cancer diagnosis, chemotherapy treatments, losing my hair & shaving my head. becoming malnourished and entering home hydration treatments. which meant delivering hydration through my port, by myself. saying goodbye to the body i had been in for years and entering a hospital alone to have my breasts amputated. waking up alone. entering survivorship alone. with my surgeon standing over me. learning to look up in the mirror after being open at my eighteen inch surgical incision for nearly sixteen weeks. to now. the day of a planned revision. to hopefully take some of the pain away. to erase some of the horrific memories that come with the jagged lines and poorly healed pockets.

but yet, it’s been delayed. and not because of my surgeon. because of me. and my post cancer body. we aren’t getting along. we aren’t understanding each other. recently, i spent a good chunk of time on the phone with a friend; someone who battled cancer at a young age. someone who has been pivotal in where i am now. i met her in march of last year. i was about six weeks into surgery recovery and could not make it through the day without crying. my husband was back at work and it was just me; unable to lift a laundry basket, bald, on long term disability and angry with the universe. update: still a little angry at the universe. but anyways, this friend and i met when the days of survivorship were early and every single day felt endless. i remember sobbing on the phone the first time we spoke. i didn’t even really know her that well. let alone well enough to have snot running down my face as i sobbed into the phone. and she graciously helped me navigate those early moments. where i felt trapped. in this weird space in my identity. where i looked and felt like a breast cancer patient but the world was looking for me to make my next move. and the next move had to be outside of that space. hell, even the disability agent was calling every week. but i couldn’t find my place. everything felt big and overwhelming. and so this week, things began to feel big and overwhelming. and it pushed me back into those moments where everything about surviving cancer felt immense. unbelievably difficult. impossible. lonely. messy and filled with doubt as well as fear. i remember crying every single day. after having beat stage two breast cancer. i still cried every single day. so this mountain of triggering emotions as well as six doctor visits and poor numbers coming in on the bloodwork; i leaned into that same friend. because i knew that she could meet me where i currently am. which is this place where i am still in a heated argument with the universe. a place where this still feels unfair. a place where i feel like i continue to fail this body and this body continues to fail me. and right now, there’s a lot going on. and i have not been super open about it. probably because there’s a lot of shame happening. but also because i hate telling the same thing over and over again. but also because i feel like everyone is looking at me, and silently asking me to be less. that my story and what happens to me are too massive. too attention seeking. too dramatic. but the reality is- it’s just bad luck. and when i went to appointment one this week, things felt rather manageable. and appointment two didn’t bring me to my knees in sobs either. but last night at quarter after five; i found myself in overwhelmed mode. because, today was appointment three and next week is the big appointment. number four. and each day that comes with more waiting while battling symptoms and side effects and a terrible rash- i begin to fall into these wicked cycles of triggers and post traumatic stress. and maybe it’s just easier to spit it out. hi. my name is alix and right now, i am going through a lot. more specifically- i am going through my fourth recurrence scare in eighteen, almost nineteen months. and this one- well, this one is a little bigger than the ones before. and i will spare you the webmd doctor google details. but there’s just a lot happening. and if you’re reading this and this is the first time you’re hearing it- i really am sorry. sometimes the last thing i wanna put in a text is- “hey. how’s your week going? oh mine? just casually trying to rule out cancer. nothing major.” it makes me feel like i wanna be the star of the show. when in reality- i would love for the universe to cast somebody else! but there’s no point in wishing the universe would pick on someone it’s own size. so, here we are. feeling like i did two years ago. surrounded by appointments, figuring out how to manage my stress, my anxiety, my roles in life, my career and my sanity- all while trying to respect the boundaries of a body that was so graciously gifted to me by a team of surgeons just eighteen months ago. and i guess, i am just modifying my expectations as i go. which is literally so annoying and quite honestly- just as exhausting as the rest of all this. it’s becoming a regular thing. for things to rarely go by according to the plan. so here i am. just hoping i can accept the fate. change the expectation. begin to expect less. narrow down the window of disappointment.

recognize that this shit is just how the universe works. and that i sometimes have to expect that it’s all gonna go wrong. and someday, it’ll all go right.


fine print.

it’s a bit before midnight and i am in the middle of a full mental breakdown. my husband is obnoxiously snoring beside me and honestly, it kinda just further fuels my current state. but right now, the spiral is what’s flowing through my stream of consciousness. the spiral. the one where everything begins to unravel. pretty challenging to see the beginning or end of it right now. but the main theme- it’s failure. super. there is just something in my brain right now that is firing off all the neon letters in the word ‘failure’. that word. it’s just firing on all cylinders. i can’t seem to get it out of my brain. everything feels like one gigantic mountain of failures. everything happening in my life just has me feeling like i am behind or stuck. and i guess i just keep falling onto this feeling that i should be further than where i am. that even though time felt like it stopped completely for the time i was trapped in my own personal hell; the world marched on. and now, i am back to square one. figuring it all out. who i wanna be. where i wanna be. who i wanna be around. and it falls hand in hand with this other feeling. this massive feeling of defeat. because earlier today, i cried for twenty two minutes in the parking lot of a grocery store. i knew it was gonna happen. it almost felt calculated. like it had been building up the whole ride there. and honestly, the defeated feeling is coming from a post cancer medical debacle place. where you signed on the dotted line to have your life saved but the fine print was too much at the time. but the fine print is important. it’s the part that no one talks about. the fine print is how your life is never the same. your body is never the same. your organs, your skin, your body temperature are never the same. you’ll never sleep again. you’ll never be free of it ever again. it destroys your whole body in an effort to tack on years at the end. you’ll spend hours on end trying to combat the numbness in your feet. you’ll buy six sets of sheets in the hopes it’ll cure your night sweats. you’ll start putting tylenol in every bag and bin. one in your car. one in your purse. one for work. might as well buy acetaminophen in stocks. nothing is the same. nothing will ever be the same. and the damn fine print. it’s raging right now. i have sat on a medical exam table five times this week. had three different doctors touch my chest. four tubes of blood drawn. two injections. a freaking ekg or whatever letters.

and one stupid voicemail. ‘your surgery has been cancelled. call me to reschedule. the doctor has a ten month wait list’. i cried for twenty two minutes in the parking lot of a grocery store today. before the voicemail came. i already knew she would call. i got a text with my lab work and i just knew. that the fine print continues to remind me that there is still so much further to go. and that things will never be the same. and the body that i live in now- is not the body i fought for. it’s this messy, post cancer disaster. it feels unfit for survivorship most days & leaves me feeling defeated. it feels broken and misshapen and half finished. and i know no one else can see that. but the fine print is the hardest part. living now; lucky to be alive but unlucky still. and it’s this ugly balance between cancer and the fine print. trying to understand that this is it. this is survivorship. and it’s lonely and scary and it’s exhausting. because i just wanna scream. IT WASN’T SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE THIS. sorry, caps lock. probably shoulda warned ya. but in all seriousness, it wasn’t supposed to be like this. it was supposed to be easier. it wasn’t supposed to be this mountain in front of me after just descending freaking everest. it’s probably stupid to be complaining about it all. but my life is just not meeting me where i was. everything feels massive and overwhelming. and every doctor or therapist just tells me that it comes with the territory and to hang in there. but i am feeling trampled by my own health. i feel small and broken. i feel like a failure and some days, i feel like giving up. all these appointments and medications and phone calls make me feel like it’s impossible and like i can’t do it. that every suggestion or remedy leaves me one step further behind. that i am eighteen months into remission and into a life in a body that i refuse to claim as my own. the fine print. i didn’t read the fine print. i didn’t sign up for more heartache on the back end of this.

and i keep trying to remember her. the body before. the one that was amputated and destroyed last february as the only measure to make sure i could be here right now. i miss her. i miss how sure she made me feel. i never questioned her or how she made me feel. she was strong when she needed to be and held me in weak moments. she went through a lot and she couldn’t be saved. and that breaks my heart everyday in this body. this broken and unfinished piece. i feel defeated. and i feel like i am failing. i feel tired. and i keep pedaling. i feel overwhelmed. and i keep climbing. and the mountain is still there. looming. and i should’ve read the fine print. although, it wouldn’t have changed a thing.

the fine print. the smallest words. it will never be the same. and that’s true. it’s not the same. it never will be. and maybe that’s the universe’s way of telling me that after this mountain, it’s just valleys.



today i came across someone on social media who battled a different kind of cancer around the same time i was battling cancer. she’s been in remission for a lot longer than me and her hair looks incredible. it made me sad and happy at the same time. to see that her hair had come back and looked absolutely amazing. that she could sit in a salon chair and have foils wrapped around her strands. but happy for her that her suffering is behind her. but still sad that the altered pieces of my life still display themselves. that my scars sometimes peek out from the tops of my bathing suits. or that i can’t wear certain colors because my amputation scars are like targets on my chest. that the altered version of me is the only version that gets to exist. and how sad it still is to think of the person i was before my fateful day. the two year mark is closely approaching. marking two years since a breast surgeon told me my cancer was more advanced than we thought. she told my mother on speakerphone that chemotherapy was the only way to tackle it. and that there were at least twenty seven other malignancies in my right breast alone. and if we were to biopsy each one, i wouldn’t have a right breast left. it’s been two years since i dropped the news into the laps of my family and some of my friends. some of those friends aren’t even in my life anymore. because cancer alters every part of you; including the parts where people stick around. and healing after being altered; wellllllll, it’s about as easy as nailing jello to a tree. it’s slippery and complicated. some days it feels like you’ve been walking uphill and you’ve gotta be close to the top. and other days, you feel like you’re in the exact same spot as day one. and people drift in and out. some recognizing your healing for what it is. some only here for the good days. some not here often enough. because alterations aren’t perfect. sometimes the hem is too short. or there are snags in the fabric. maybe it’s lopsided or ugly. it’s imperfect. that’s why you have three try ons of your freaking wedding dress alterations. it can’t be perfect off the rack.

and i think there was so much pain and suffering for so long for me. after the stay in the icu battling the virus. the forty two days of isolation. the hellish months of havoc it wreaked on my body. to a diagnosis of aggressive breast cancer and eighteen months of grueling treatments and a fairly gnarly recovery from an amputation surgery. and with all that pain behind me, i just assumed this exciting world of healing and growth and survivorship would be . . . something different. easier, perhaps. or faster. or not as painful. or not as grief filled. but honestly, it’s a lot like the rest. feeling altered. sometimes feeling stuck. feeling lost in your own world. still making sense of it all. and sure, i have come a long way in my healing. i checked all the boxes. saw all the right doctors. did the therapy marathons. wrote the letters. stopped hiding my hair. donated all the cancer things. threw all the meds away.

but it’s more than that. it’s more than anyone will ever see. it’s seeing hair on someone else and wondering if my turn will ever come. to wear braids or a ponytail again. wondering when i can begin to highlight my hair and if i should even bother buying a new flat iron. it’s looking down in the shower and seeing the massive bullseye scars on your chest. or noticing a wicked sunburn that you never even felt. it’s wondering if wearing a bra will change anything. or if tattoos will make a difference. it’s catching the glimpse of the eighteen inch scar and wondering what people think. someone recently asked me at a pool party about my children. i replied that i didn’t have any. they had assumed i had a poor c section recovery. nope. just had to use my abdomen to save my own life. it’s wondering if people still see me as me. it’s wondering if this whole thing has changed every relationship and every feeling about me. it’s about the two years i missed out on. a whole year of my career. the scariest moments of my life were when i had to be alone to be safe. and the loneliness has created this immense desire to never be lonely again. but healing is lonely. alterations are lonely. this part of cancer is lonely. two years after that fateful day. one year after finishing treatment. eighteen months in remission. it’s still hard. it’s still lonely. it still feels altered. and for a stint of this, i was genuinely giving myself a hard time. for not being further in healing. for not being over it. for not being past it. but i realized that if that’s not what i am capable of doing- that’s okay. my life was altered from the very start. from the days where i fought alone in a virus cell while the world shuttered. from the day my first opinion breast surgeon told me my tumor was way more than just a tumor. from meeting alison, my first opinion breast care coordinator who took me to a pink wallpapered room and held my hand. to meeting my incredible oncology team at mercy. where i had the most angelic team of care- angie & colleen & barb. where i cried and laughed and slept. where my mouth was so infected and i was so dehydrated. and anna always made sure i had a seat for hydration tuesdays. and no one ever made me feel small. and i am crying while writing this because those days were so hard and the pain was so immense. and the pressure to feel invincible and resilient was so heavy. and sometimes, it still feels heavy. to carry the weight of it all. to remain hopeful for yourself. to carry compassion and empathy for those who couldn’t make it here. to recognize that you are lucky and unlucky in the same moment.

to be altered. without consent. to be altered by the universe. to remain faithful to that same universe. to know it could all unravel again. to stay hopeful that you’ve tied the thread tightly enough in survivorship. to hope the needle and thread you chose, were the right choice. to be altered forever. and to begin to take the small steps in looking at the alterations and still deciding to wear the damn dress.


changing of the tides.

i have been in a big writing block. the last few weeks, it has felt like every single time i would try to draft something- absolutely nothing would come to the page. but right now, there is a lot of chaos happening in my brain. it’s weird. things feel a little bigger and some days, i have trouble keeping up. and one of my greatest fears is that i think that maybe i am too much. i think about it nonstop. that the narrative that’s existed my whole life has led me to believe that i am too much; which ironically, must also mean that i am not enough. weird. it’s this concept that floats in the landscape of my brain way more than it should. just another layer of imposter syndrome. that who i am is the reason people leave. that who i am and what has shaped me is too much for other people to help carry sometimes. lately, my brain has been creating this false sense of feeling like a burden. it feels like everything that i have been through has been so heavy that it’s left cracks in the surface of every relationship in my life. including the one with myself. and before people start to unpack this and think it’s about them; it’s not. it’s about me. and how the events of my life over the last two years have created this twisted notion that i am too much for some and not enough for others. and i think it comes from existing in a place in which if for even a split second i feel unlovable- i will begin to spiral. it’s this collapsing spiral that shifts my brain into this place of feeling like i take up way too much space. that i need to be smaller. more insignificant. less attention on me. because the things that have been happening to me are massive. life changing. altering absolutely every avenue of my life.

and sometimes, in the after cancer days, i still feel like there isn’t enough keeping me tethered to the earth. that it could all come crashing down and take everything away from me again. and will it be too much for people the next time? and i know, i know. you’re all probably screaming at me to stop thinking about it happening again. and to live with the idea that it won’t come back. but i also have a horrible track record. and right now, my healing even feels like too much for me sometimes. that this tattered and scarred body is never going to feel like home. no matter what i do. and that i will continue to figure out ways to hide it or deal with it or cope with it or just exist in it. and that every part of me that i discovered and figured out before the world crashed onto my shoulders; will never actually be attainable again. and that right there- that feels like too much to say out loud to anyone. to anyone who asks me what’s on my mind or why i spent two hours crying myself to sleep or why i am quiet. sometimes this artificial face that i put on is because everything behind it, feels like it’s too much. and the only thing i promised myself was that i would never squash myself down to make other people feel comfortable. even though there is so much that i feel like i can’t say; sometimes i just feel like it’s me. that i am too much. that my story and my healing and my trauma and my goals and my successes and my failures are all just too much. too much for people. too much to say out loud.

and in saying all of that- i can also say that i sometimes feel like i am not enough. too much and not enough. wild. what’s happening in my brain is pure chaos. because i have reached yet another point in this hellacious journey of healing. and maybe it’s not one that anyone else has experienced or maybe it is. or maybe it’s just wildly different. or whatever. but it’s this crossroad. this massive intersection where what i wanted out of life before i faced death and what i want after it all. they’ve come to this meeting place. and they aren’t the same anymore. and it feels like this change in the tides. this shift that changes everything. i want to say no to some of the shit i signed myself up for before my whole life fell into a million pieces. i want certain people by my side. i want more sleep. i want to find a peaceful place for my brain and body to exist at the same time. i want more time on this earth. and i want it to be well spent. i am not an ounce of the person i was before i knocked on death’s door in twenty twenty. i am not an ounce of the person i was before my hair fell out and my breasts were amputated. i am not an ounce of the person i was before i heard the words remission and survival. i am every ounce of what has happened to me. i am every ounce of pain, trauma, strength, fight, failure, fear, survival that has been in me. and it’s created this person who no longer desires to be linked to the person i had to lose in all of this. it’s too painful to be connected to something that is no longer mine. to be connected to something that cannot exist ever again. the version i created and built over thirty years is gone. and the loss of that is immense. some days, it’s consuming. and other days, it fills me with relief. to be able to start again. to choose. to define what comes next. to shed the heavy stigmas and pressures. to be authentic. to be myself. to be someone who was broken and shattered and found a way to slowly glue it all back together.

here’s the thing- i don’t know what is next. but i don’t think i wanna spend whatever time i have with this version of myself- writing a dissertation or missing my moments writing hours of annotations. i don’t know who i wanna be. or where i wanna be for all of this. what i do know is that i worked so freaking hard to exist; to live. harder than you’ll ever be able to understand. and it cost me my whole being. my mind, my body, my brain. and over the last eighteen months in remission, i have spent every waking moment- learning to be this new version. and it has been hard and sad and rewarding and chaotic.

it’s the changing of the tides, babe. the moment when the shore gets a moment of peace. the moment where the ocean gets to breathe. before the waves begin.



i have another blog post going. obviously in another notes tab. ya know. casual things happening over here. i have been thinking about relationships a lot lately. friendships. relationships. people in your corner or on your team. whatever the hell ya wanna call it. and i often reflect back on a blog post i wrote nearly two years ago; after i found myself ghosted by a girl i had been calling my best friend. now in hindsight, there were red flags all over that friendship and i take responsibility for ignoring them. it’s pretty obvious looking back, that it was pretty unstable and a sinking ship from the start. but i remember how it ended. and that feeling has stayed with me over the last two years. it’s funny what lingers sometimes. and the end of that friendship was an ugly moment in my life. i have always felt unpopular and have always felt like people come and go way too often. and when this particular red flag laden friendship ended, i felt like someone had walked all over me and stomped in certain places. and i am beyond grateful for the ones that have stayed. i have an incredible army. a network of people that i can count on every single day. and i am so very blessed. that goes without saying. but i will admit that lately, my mind continues to jump back to moments where people have walked out on me. and while i am far from perfection, endings to friendships are always hard for me. and right now, i have been shifted into this new parallel. one where i have to sit back and watch some of the old parts of my life float by and i am unable to cast a net to try and catch them.

and very recently another big friendship ended and it ended harshly. and the fragments of it kept me awake for over a week. my heart and head battling over who was right and who was wrong. rereading the paragraphs of text to try to decide where things took a turn. but in those paragraphs, i found that all i was doing was taking care of myself. finding what serves me. eliminating friendships that hurt more than they heal. drawing a line in the sand on where a new boundary had appeared. because much like the red flag friend, it had its moments. and i am no stranger to ends of big friendships but when you’ve spent a few years in the throes of sickness and death, you begin to realize just how important the inner circle is. just how purposeful and strong it is. how drama and insecurities and selfishness simply cannot exist. and that it is more than okay to ask that of your circle. to ask for grace or space. to draw boundaries. to make sure that the friendship matches where you are in healing; in life. and goodbyes are painful and sometimes ugly. and this most recent one was definitely an uglier one; and while it weighs heavily, i continue to remind myself that even the sun and moon take breaks from the world. the horizon, the earth’s line. and today, the events of this whole friendship falling apart were the first things to tumble out of my mouth and into the lap of my therapist. and it felt like everything that had been smothering my soul and heart over the last week just sagged. and we slowed it down. that it wasn’t the end of a friendship. no. it was me. establishing a boundary in a friendship. after hurtful things were said and a slew of immaturity was laid out on the table. it was establishing a boundary to protect myself, my healing, my mental health. and the boundary wasn’t respected. and the friendship sunk with it. and there’s something powerful that comes with saying all of that. that after literally picking apart the messages and tone and moments layer by layer; that all it was- was the true failure to accept a boundary. and there is so much power in creating a boundary. and so much power in defending the boundary. and the most powerful part- is accepting the fallout when the boundary is more important than the person failing to stop at the line.

and friendships have always been hard for me. from day one. and over the last week or so, i have found myself in this immense state of sadness and disbelief. and not necessarily over the loss. but over the way it made me feel and how it felt so hurtful in the wake. and that even though i know it doesn’t serve me anymore, i still hate loss. and i hate ugliness. and i hate confrontation. but i know that i deserve to be safe in what i ask for and i know that the people who love me and honor my friendship are the ones who will never put me in that place. ever.

and so today was this massive milestone in my healing. because boundaries are hard for me. hard for me to create. hard for me to facilitate around others. hard for me to ask for people to maintain. sometimes, i forget that i deserve them and they deserve to be respected. but today, i was proud of the boundary. and that i could not beat myself up over the loss that came with it. because i am creating the life i deserve. with people who deserve me.

i deserve to hold the power. it’s been inside me all along.



it’s been a long time since i have actually slept through the night. insomnia and i have been best friends since i was probably thirteen. and even more so in the months following my cancer diagnosis. and i am no doctor but i would bet money that not sleeping plays a large part in the play i am currently staring in called “the emotional week”. and i know i play the main character. trust and believe, i am the main character in all of it. because here’s the thing. it’s been an emotional week. and last week, was also an emotional week. and something inside me tells me that i have several emotional weeks ahead of me. and emotional weeks for me are not linear. they don’t all look the same. sometimes, you can find me sobbing for forty five minutes over my bathroom sink. because the reflection in the mirror makes me want to scream and never go out in public again. because i can’t find my old reflection in the one that’s staring back at me. my new hair growth is exciting but it also just never feels over. it never feels the same. and other times, you will find me crying hot angry tears. because i can’t focus on something for more than seven minutes. or i can’t remember how to do something. or that i don’t have enough emotional strength or brain power to work on my dissertation. which is why i stopped working on it. and the guilt around that kinda low key eats at me every day. and sometimes, you’ll find me pretty content. and proud. and accomplished. for crushing an infectious disease and cancer in twelve months time. while in a doctoral program. and without psych meds. impressive. the range of emotions is quite exhausting. but lately, the world around me has felt quiet. and a little lonely. the spaces after everything is marked safe fill with silence. people stop asking. people stop checking in. people just stop in general. and the healing becomes quiet. which can make the healing process even harder. because it’s really hard to explain how i feel about my body. or how i feel about recurrence scares. it’s really hard to tell someone that you sobbed yourself to sleep twice last week or that you’re so tired from just existing sometimes. and my psychiatrist reminded me this week that much of what has happened to me in the last two years, will never happen to most people in their whole lives. impressive. wild, isn’t it? but sometimes, the space that’s been created for me to heal in- it feels massive. like i am supposed to fill it to the brim- with all these accomplishments in healing. but in reality, it’s quite hard to fill that space. healing feels like it’s taking forever. it feels like three steps forward and one step back. it feels hollow and hopeful. it feels unsteady and uneven. it feels easy some days and unbearable others. sometimes, it feels impossible and other days, like it’s just around the corner. it’s packed with grief and loss and trauma. it’s filled with triggers, spread out like land mines. and every time someone layers on another coping strategy, the space just begins to feel like it’s swollen two sizes. and in this space, the silence reminds me of all the moments i have felt alone in healing. and the past few weeks have placed me in familiar spaces of silence and isolation. and these quiet, lonely spots of healing are often where my mind and my heart begin to wander back to the times in recent years where the world just wasn’t the place for me. weeks of isolation. hours upon hours of unknowns. weeks of agony. grief in its purest and most original form. followed by grief layered so high. grief of a life. of a marriage. of friendships and relationships. of a whole person. a person that i had molded and shaped over the course of three decades. of a body that held me in hard times, rocked me in sad times, humbled me in high tides and raised me in low tides. grief of the loss of a clear head and simple soul. grief from head to toe. and while the acceptance phase of grief has circled back for a visit; there’s a lot of different patterns of grief that need to be unpacked. and the acceptance piece; it’s just a lot.

and right now, this space just feels quiet. and maybe that’s a good thing. maybe i need to be alone in it. maybe it needs to be uncomfortable and silent and lonely. but in the same breath, the silence feels loud. and it brings the imposter syndrome to a roar. it opens up all of the doubts and insecurities. they rush in to fill the void of everything else. so i begin to doubt the decisions i have made or begin to question everything i am doing right now. and everything feels so far in the past but also so fresh. the support groups aren’t meeting me where i am anymore. therapy feels stagnant. it feels like i am stuck. in this silent, uncomfortable spot in healing. where the trauma from the past meets the current & present. and there is just this . . . void. and at the end of the day, i don’t know which path to take. things from before cancer don’t seem to spark joy anymore. things from before cancer don’t seem to fit anymore. sometimes i feel like i am trying to fit a square peg into a circle hole. things don’t line up anymore and i am beginning to feel overwhelmed with guilt. that maybe i wanna study something different. or maybe i don’t wanna be a student at all. that maybe i want to do something different or go somewhere else. maybe i need to reevaluate the people in my life and reassess those who aren’t serving me anymore. i think what often gets lost in the leap from treatment to survivorship is the difference. every part of me is different now. and the adjustment to that might be lifelong. that there is this immense amount of grief and mourning associated with the loss of the person i was supposed to be. and all that comes with that. the brain, the motivation, the body. and this mourning of a person and a life that will never exist again. and how that has to be what shapes the new frame. and it’s been a lot of just accepting over the last two years. accepting the fate, the future, the diagnosis, the plans, the pain, the betrayals, the surgeries, the recoveries and most importantly, how people respond to all of that. and sometimes it feels weird to be this far into healing and still not fully understand it. to be this far into healing and not fully healed. it feels like i get stuck sometimes. stuck in the pain; stuck in the sadness; stuck in the grief. and it’s not intentional. it’s just that the swells of grief are immense some days and quiet other days. there are moments dipped in trauma and others that have been submerged. and more often than not, my body is looking for a way to funnel the trauma right in out of here. and it’s a lot more work than i ever imagined. it’s frustrating at times. it’s sad at times. it’s soul crushing sometimes. and all around me, the world continues to move.

and it’s funny because this week, my therapist told me that my healing looked vastly different from the appointment prior. because i am exhausted, i said. exhausted from all of this. the pain, the grief, the weight of medical issues. and sometimes, my exhaustion leads to defeat. and sometimes, it sparks a fire. a desire to get unstuck. to move the wheel and get off this ride. whatever it takes. because healing is happening. it just looks different. it isn’t easy and it doesn’t match what my brain mapped out in the beginning. it was not supposed to be like this but it is. and while accepting that isn’t my strong suit, i am working on learning how to accept the fate of the universe.

everyone has pain in their lives. everyone handles it all in their own way. some days, we can charge through it. and other days, it pulls us back. and i have made the decision that all of that is one thousand percent okay with me. my healing is mine. my trauma is mine. what i have been through and done is mine. it’s important. it’s worth being shared and talked about and it’s okay to still be here. stuck. it’s okay to curl up and be mad at the universe. stuck. it’s okay to change your mind about the world that existed before. it’s okay to want to be stuck and unstuck all at the same time.

life is just one long ass ferris wheel ride & the best view is when you get stuck at the top.



it’s been one of those days. sometimes i ask myself if other people have these kinds of days. the kind where it literally feels like the entire sky opens up and dumps an absolute hail storm right onto you. no warning. full out. the kind of day where you lay down with that headache that just creeps to the base of your neck. the headache that you know stems from the fact that you cried for forty five minutes in the car outside your niece’s dance class. and then cried all the way home too. and now it’s quarter til ten and all you want to do is sob. it’s been one of those days. it’s only tuesday and i can already get a taste of what the week is fixing to bring to me. and i know, i have been a bit quiet lately. and with good reason, i guess. sometimes i feel like my story feels broken recordy. sometimes it’s just too much to even break down into a palatable sentence. and sometimes, i just don’t know how. but i am having a hard time right now. i have been quieter than usual on social media. and even quieter within my circle. the healing process is feeling rather overwhelming and frustrating. i cross one bridge, only to be met with any even bigger river to try to leap over.

and today, i sat in the middle of my bed and cried for an entire hour. in front of my therapist. who i felt i needed to apologize to at the end of the session. because i barely came up for air. and i finally admitted to her that i am quite frankly sick of the universe. sick of drowning in what is quite possibly the longest identity crisis of my life. tired of being tossed amongst the largest waves of grief. over and over again. that it was never, ever, ever supposed to be like this. that the life i had before cancer is still a life i long for. that i find myself dreaming of, waking up with tear stained pillows. that tonight as my husband tucked me in, i said ‘I am feeling a little bit sad’ and he replied, ‘yeah. and it’s okay to be a little bit sad’. and he will continue to allow me to be sad. because here i am; at the fourteen month mark. in a very, very uncomfortable place. tumbling in waves of grief. the grief of a life i had and will never have again. grief of a body i knew and can’t remember. grief of the body that exists now. one that continues to disappoint me and fail me. one that fought and sometimes still feels like it lost. one that is stitched and uneven. grief of relationships that broke my heart in a heavy time of my life. grief over moments that destroyed me while in treatment. moments that bring me to my knees in tears when they flashback in my mind. grief over the first strand of hair that fell out of my scalp. grief over the friend who didn’t stick around while i fought for my life. grief over the eighteen inch scar that failed to heal. leaving me black and blue and purple from hip to hip. grief over a postponed surgery date this past fall. and now, a new grief over surgery off the table for the foreseeable future. grief over a body that remains fractioned. grief over this roadblock in the many paths i have tried to lay.

my therapist said to me today that perhaps the reason the grief feels so heavy is because you are so mad it exists. you can’t accept the grief and be mad that it still remains. they can’t live side by side. they can’t coexist. they aren’t meant to. but i am angry to be still grieving. two years after an infectious disease. fourteen months in remission. nine months post treatment. four months from my surgery date. but the truth is- i am. and i think i have been so afraid to say it out loud. because i had told myself that it needed to be behind me. that my grief didn’t fit into any of the places i wanted it to fit. that when i said it out loud, i thought i would appear dramatic. or worse. but it’s true. and it’s real. and i am not having a good time. and i have been living in this place where i thought i had to neatly wrap my grief and pain; to move on and figure it out. but it’s impossible. it’s making the healing harder. more painful. more agonizing. it is unfair of me to stifle my own emotions for the sake of creating a picture of healing that is, well, not accurate.

if anything, this fourteen month mark feels lonely. it feels heavy. it feels uncomfortable. it feels disappointing. because the battle wages forward. with grief heavy on my back. with recurrence on the brain. a surgery off the calendar. and a lot of work ahead. to accept the grief. to acknowledge the grief. and to begin to unpack it; one moment at a time.

the work feels immense. my therapist said that the work might feel small and silly in these moments when my trauma is the biggest it’s been in awhile. i nodded. and that’s okay, she said. there is no timeline. the grief is already here. it’s time to let it visit.



do you call them steps? or stairs? i feel like just a few up to your front door are steps. but the whole flight, those are stairs. i dunno. my brain is in a weird mood right now. and i am feeling very . . . human. vulnerable. sensitive. overthinking. there is something rather unique about milestones. really, any milestone. but right now, i have just secured two years since my admission to an intensive care unit while battling an infectious disease. two years sometimes feels like a lifetime. and other times, it feels like a fresh memory. firmly fitted into my brain. and for whatever reason, my brain and body and heart and mind are not currently fully in sync. maybe it’s the trauma that is still cycling around. maybe it’s the trauma response. maybe it’s me. maybe it’s everyone else. who knows? but while i was sitting in therapy last week, my therapist commended me on my step. like taking the next step in my healing. in my grief journey. in unpacking the mountain of trauma. in setting boundaries. in allowing myself the massive space and grace that is required to heal from the storms that i have openly stood in, while rain downpoured around me. she commended me for making it to a new step. maybe it’s not the next one per say. but a new one nonetheless. and i am sure you’re dying to know what that next step is. and i am here to tell you that it’s that weird part of the grief process. the one where you supposedly make meaning out of whatever tragedy the universe dropped in your lap. i rarely make it to this place. in the times i have openly been in places of grief, i always skip this step. not intentionally or anything. i just can’t. can’t make meaning out of things that break my heart. and so much to my surprise, i really didn’t anticipate making it to the point where i was beginning to make meaning out of this whole mess. but here we are. and honestly, the making meaning thing isn’t as heartwarming and precious as it might sound. it’s awful. it’s literally unpacking my trauma minute by minute and grappling with the idea that it was meant for me, and me alone. that somewhere, the pieces all aligned just right. that in order to survive, i had to be tested. and that can just be an exhausting way to look at it.

and it often pushes me back to the first days in recovery after having an infectious disease. i was alone for a really long time. in full isolation from any human contact outside of intensive care nurses and infectious disease doctors in full hazmat. i spent most of my time in isolation crying. at first, crying from sheer agony and pain. then from fear. then as i planned my funeral and silently tried to figure out how the hell my husband would ever be able to access netflix since the password was changed. and that the car payment didn’t get paid. and how i might never actually see another human i loved. and the tears eventually became tears of gratitude. and tears of loneliness. forty two days is a long time to be alone with yourself. and for me, it’s too long to be alone with myself and my brain. and when isolation resumed at home for two more weeks after walking myself out to my car from the intensive care unit two years ago; it became a place where i was practically shoved into figuring out how to heal. how to make it all make sense. and i remember staring at the cards and letters from all the people who prayed for me day and night as i battled the virus. and it still didn’t make sense. why me? what purpose did it serve to take me down that road? people tell me often that my resilience and strength inspires them. that how i held myself in those moments, created an immense light for everyone around me. purpose. meaning. the why. is it about me? or is it about others? and there’s a bible verse that rings true for me. even though i don’t really spend my time all up in the bible. it’s from esther. ‘perhaps this is the moment for which you were created’. isn’t that wild? to think that there might be moments that exist or happen simply because of us? because of me? and sure, my pieces and moments could be arranged in dozens of ways. and i won’t know which ones made meaning. and i won’t always know who found a greater depth out of them either. but here i am. faced with the idea that maybe making meaning out of the last two years will bring me a bigger healing. a healing that i have finally earned. because right now, i am looking for meaning. i am scrambling to understand why i lived, while so many others haven’t. from both experiences- virus and cancer. to find meaning in burying friends who battled just as hard. to not feel vain about my victories. when others have fallen. to find meaning in the way my cards were dealt. to some it felt fair. to some it looked lucky. to me, it felt immense. to find meaning in my place here on earth. what my intentions are as time marches on. and i know, this all probably sounds like a crock of shit to you. and hey, maybe it is! but in reality, i don’t know why it was me. and a lot of the time, i absolutely hate that it was me. i absolutely loathe how much of myself i had to lose in order to save my own damn life. it’s a lot. no, it’s so much more than a lot. it’s everything and nothing at the same time. it’s pretending to not be bothered; when it’s shredding you apart. it’s watching people walk away from you while others lift you up. it’s trying to figure out who you are while also trying to properly say goodbye to the parts that don’t get to live on. it’s a deafening silence on most days. where the rest of the world hears nothing but applause. for a job well done. for a fight well fought. but on the inside, my heart is scotch taped together, my brain is rattling, my skin hurts, my whole chest is numb. because finding meaning is a lot. it’s digging through every part of yourself- past, present & future. to try to make sense of it all. to try to reflect and build on it all. to try to accept it and make peace with it.

to try to thoughtfully sift through the painful parts, the hard parts, the joyful parts, the ugly parts, the broken parts, the scarred parts- to thoughtfully sift through them and in turn, manifest this soil. to plant this new garden. one that makes sense. one that holds meaning. one that isn’t brown or burnt. one that holds hope and blooms brightly. one that turns towards the sun.

a garden made from meaning. what did it all mean? was it meant for me? was it meant for me because i could handle it? maybe. even though i didn’t handle it gracefully all the time. was it meant for me to avoid being meant for someone else? maybe. even if that doesn’t feel fair. and what does it mean for me now, in survivorship? i still don’t know. i just know that i guess i am meant to be here. hurting and healing and hustling. i am meant to be here. right now. just today. hurting and healing and planting. hurting and healing and longing for what was and for what is and for what will be.

and that’s okay. because everyone’s garden is different. and mine holds plants from before. and it holds what it can hold right now. and it’ll hold whatever it’s meant to hold. and the same goes for me. i will hold whatever i am meant to hold. i will bloom whenever i am meant to bloom. and the meaning will grow there too.

i promise to water it & find the sunshine when i can. xoxo.

what if.

i have been a chronic worrier since basically the first grade. maybe even earlier than that. honestly, probably since birth. and i have had a therapist since the first grade too. the first one used to tell me that worrying was pointless. which is true. even i know that. he used to talk to me while i sat on a paper covered exam table in the back room of my pediatrician’s office. on wednesdays. and he would draw on the exam table paper. a little devil on one side of me and an angel on the other. and he explained worrying like that. that the devil was the one whispering all kinds of anxious nonsense into my ear. and that i had to consciously choose to turn and listen to the angel. but y’all, here we are some twenty six years later and the devil wins more than i would like to admit. earlier this week, someone asked me about my surgery. the one that was delayed back in november due to abnormal bloodwork. and it’s still on the books. written down for august seventeenth. one hundred and fifty some odd days from now. and thinking about it this week and everything that has happened in the last two years and thinking about how i recently wrote sixteen months in remission and realized that it’s only been thirteen. my brain is beginning to play a game; a favorite past time if you will. it’s this game of what if. you know it. i know y’all do. the one where you place the words ‘what if’ in front of all of your fears and worries. irrational or not. and right now, my what ifs go a little like this – what if the surgery still doesn’t happen. or what if the doctor cancels it. what if it can’t happen because of my bloodwork and my surgeon drops me as a patient. or what if the surgery happens. and what if the results are awful. or maybe what if the results still don’t make me feel whole. what if the scars that i see every single day, are the scars that i will be forced to look at forever. what if my scars never fade. what if they can’t be erased with a laser. or oh my gosh, new what if. what if the laser makes them look worse. see?! this is where i am two years into healing. tormented by the what ifs. and sure, sure, i could just think about the drawings on the exam room table. push my brain back to nineteen ninety six. i could kindly ask myself to push pause on the record of what ifs. but what has to be understood is that my real life fears have already come to life. what if i catch this infectious disease that’s killing millions? oh wait, done. check it off the list. what if i am one of the eight women who receive a breast cancer diagnosis? oof. also done. check! what if the surgery leaves me feeling like a whole part of me is missing? yea, that’s where i have been since last february. and sure, it’s been a string of bad luck. back to back. and lots of people like to remind me that it’s over. and in some ways, it is. but in other ways, the remnants have been hard to send off. and i try really, really hard to find the rainbows after the helluva rain storm that i just walked through. but i am also in this place. you know the place. where my body feels like it doesn’t belong to me. and maybe you don’t know the place. but maybe you get what i am saying. that the scars to me don’t hold power or strength. they hold sadness. they hold something broken. they are reminders. and not good ones. they don’t remind me of the moments i was strong. they remind me of all the times that was the only choice. to be strong. they don’t remind me that i fought like hell. they just remind me of the ugliest battles. and they also feel shameful. all of it kinda does. that maybe if i had done everything differently, it would never have been like this. that maybe if i wasn’t fat or if i ran a mile every day. if i talked on the phone less or didn’t drink diet soda. maybe if i asked for turkey bacon or ate a salad every once in a while. if i didn’t sleep with my cell phone under my pillow. or if i cured my childhood asthma. if i took less advil and used less hairspray. see – there’s that game again.

there’s a lot of guilt and shame with survivorship. some that stems from watching other people battle for longer. or saying goodbye to those whose battle was too much. the guilt also comes from being a young survivor. and feeling guilty for receiving the diagnosis in the first place. the guilt that we put on ourselves for asking others to stop where they are while you battle. and the inconvenience and burden you feel in the beginning, middle, end and forever in survivorship. and people tell me it’s okay all the time. and it is okay. it’s okay that these are the things that live in my brain. it’s okay that survivorship isn’t perfect. it’s okay that the what ifs block out the clear skies. it’s okay that the what ifs exist at all. the number one thing my therapist says to me every single week is that we have to acknowledge the thoughts. it has to be acknowledged. whatever it is. shame. guilt. worry. fear. defeat. trauma. whatever it is. it has to be acknowledged. because if we shove it deep down into the pits of our soul and swear to never let it see the light of day – the next time we open the lid to shove something else deep down, it’ll come bubbling up. and while i can’t seem to nail the devil versus angel exam table drawing down to a science; it does live in the back of my mind all these years later. but what my very first og therapist never said to me was to acknowledge the devil. acknowledge the worry. acknowledge the fear. it’s always been ignore. it’s always been move on. it’s always been forget about it. it’s silly, alix. that’s crazy. just think about something else. oof. didn’t age well right? because here i am. thirty three years old and navigating the immensely challenging world of survivorship. and the eighty five thousand different emotions that i cycle through every day. and it’s ugly and messy. and it’s allowed to be ugly and messy. and it has to be safely acknowledged by everyone. it has to feel safe to exist like this right now. my what ifs are the deepest fears to ever exist. they are what sit at the core of it all. in these last two years, i have been brave. i have suffered silently. i have lost myself entirely. i have rebuilt my body. i have picked up the shattered pieces of my marriage; broken and splintered by trauma and isolation. over the last two years, i have navigated new normals over and over again. and now, my greatest fear is that this final surgery – the surgery to make it all come together – might not cure my whole body desire to feel complete. and if it doesn’t, where does that leave me?

sometimes it feels like square one and i are the best of friends. i feel like i get all the way to a pivotal part of healing and a massive hole appears in my path. a new diversion. another detour. people ask me all the time if i would rather have the chemo hard or the treatment hard or the surgery hard or what i have now. as if any of them are comparable. suffering hard or healing hard. both are hard. both take so much energy. both changed me. and perhaps my tolerance for bullshit is much lower these days; but i just can’t even tell you how much it hurts to miss who you were. and how much it hurts to become what the universe gave you. sometimes it feels like a flower blooming in pure sunshine. and some days, my petals feel soggy from the rain. my what ifs feel heavier than usual. i think it’s because of the weight survivorship holds. i think the what ifs are all we know. the anxiety becomes this hobby and obsession when you’re fighting for your life every single day. and when some of your huge what ifs actually happen, it’s hard to feel like the whole world won’t turn its back on you someday. and as a person who literally hates change, this phase of healing and survivorship is even harder. because everything is different. my hair, my skin, my clothes. my relationships, my brain, my abilities. my anxiety, my body, my tolerances. my fears, my hopes, my heart. my medicines, my teeth, my vision. my nerves, my chest, my emotions. nothing was ever the same. and yeah, that keeps me up some nights. and so do the what ifs. and the nightmares. and the flashbacks to a cold chemo clinic chair. and the night my hair fell out for the first time. and the times i sobbed on the floor of my shower. or the nights i cried myself to sleep.

what if it takes a lifetime to forget. what if it’s hard like this all the time. what if it gets easier. little by little. what if everything i need is already inside me. what if i can do it; one grain at a time. what if survivorship was waiting for me.

maybe it was. what if it’s okay, to just be here. what if that’s true.

maybe it is. xoxo.