my greatest fear is dying alone. no, not like by myself. but like alone. in life. i absolutely hate being alone. and honestly, i have already lived my greatest fear. two years ago. on march twenty third. i walked into an emergency room and was told if i hadn’t, i would’ve died alone in my bed that very night. i fought hard for so many hours. signed my life away on so many consent forms. declined to see a priest because i didn’t want to expose anyone that didn’t need to be exposed. held a thumbs up to anyone outside my door so they knew they didn’t have to come in and be exposed. i planned my funeral service from that hospital bed. wept and sobbed myself to sleep every night. it was my greatest fear. loneliness. in a big way. and loneliness is just something i have never handled well. as a kid. as a teen. as a young adult. and now. it’s just not a vibe as i like to say. but it’s weird. because even surrounded by dozens of people or the army of those who love me in my hard moments, i can still feel immensely lonely. and honestly there is a lot of loneliness in this body. and a lot of loneliness in this space. survivorship. there is a lot of pushing and shoving. and that’s challenging as someone who has just survived something really big and really traumatic. the pushing and shoving. where people are uncomfortable with where you are in healing. so they try to come from underneath you to push you out of where you are. trying to shove you into corners of healing that just don’t fit. and it hurts. and it feels rushed and hurried. and it just makes the space of survivorship that much lonelier. right now, i am finding myself back in this lonely space. where it’s me and what happened to me. me and my cancer diagnosis. huddled together. trying to make space for each other to exist harmoniously without ruining everyone else’s good time. and honestly, i kinda knew it would be like this. that it would feel uncomfortable and scary and sad and lonely. to be a survivor of something this big and this terrifying. to be forever marked and scarred by it. but trauma is something that should be allowed to exist. and it should be a place where no one interrupts. and that no one can try to pull you out of. because it’s honestly, kind of a holy ground. and i know that sounds weird but bear with me. sometimes my trauma is the only place that feels safe. it’s what i have known for the last two years of my life. because when people begin to take apart your experience; when they literally begin to disassemble it like it’s decorations at the end of a party; that’s when it feels lonely. that’s what makes it feel like i have been left behind.

and believe me, no one wants it to be different more than yours truly. i remember being in this exact position just two short years ago. begging to be understood and wrapped in grace as i healed from a forty two day isolation period and a virus that was killing people by the thousands. no one knew what to do or what to say. so we just didn’t talk about it. but the grief and trauma and anxiety and loneliness were bubbling over tenfold. and there were people that tried to push me into more comfortable corners then too. and it felt exactly like it does right now. unfair to be silent. unfair to be judged. unfair to be ushered into spaces that don’t fit me and my new experiences. and now here i am, a little over a year later, in what feels very familiar. it’s that part of healing where i am pushed between being uncomfortable in my own healing but also making sure others aren’t uncomfortable. and one of the things i am slowly realizing is that my comfort is what matters here. not anyone else’s. and right now, things have been feeling a little lonely. actually a lot lonely. i feel like my existence is unmatched. that there is this layer of my old self that has been shed that people are still expecting to resurface. like my trauma and my experiences are so overwhelming sometimes that people disappear. that what holds me together now is knowing that i lived through it. but for others, that is exhausting. there feels like there is this invisible pressure. to be okay with everything. to move forward with everything. to literally put the past behind me. to forget the trauma. to ignore the experiences. to move along. but it has unequivocally seeped into every crack, crevice & layer of who i am.

and earlier this week, a core memory literally gut punched me on my drive home from work. a memory that hadn’t surfaced ever before. and i found myself wiping slow tears as i merged off the highway. trying to blink away the memory of my face filled with sores hooked up to a home hydration iv pole. alone and terrified. with an open port access for seven days. with my skin peeling and bleeding. my malnourished self just barely alive. and that moment feels like forever ago but it also feels so new and fresh. to remember yourself in a place of ultimate vulnerability and pain. in a place of absolute agony and fear. to feel alone in your illness. alone in your battle. alone in the fight for it all. and right now, survivorship feels lonely. i feel alone. i feel broken. i feel like my trauma and my cancer and my story don’t belong anywhere. that it doesn’t matter anymore. that it’s not important anymore. that it’s a record that shouldn’t be played. and as i laid in my bed, crying into my pillowcases as my husband just rubs my back and soothingly says ‘it’s okay to be sad, it’s okay’- this ugly mantra flashes neon in my head. the one that says ‘and nothing was ever the same’. and it just makes me cry harder. crocodile tears. i can’t remember what it was like before. the ugliness of the last two years is thick right now. and maybe it’s because there is a lot of unresolved trauma. maybe it’s because i have been playing the comparison game a lot lately. maybe it’s because i am just sad and alone in all of these big feelings. maybe it’s all of those things. but the truth is, nothing was ever the same. not an ounce of it. not the way my hair frames my face. or the line of my jaw. not the scars on my chest or the ones on my legs. not the way i can fall asleep comfortably. or the way i process noise. or the way i watch television. there are foods that instantly bring me back to the days of chemo. and there are clothes that will never fit again. the way my body never feels safe or whole. the way my legs ache at the close of the day. the way my brain can’t remember certain words or things. or that i will never not be afraid. that i missed big moments. and lost good people. that cancer took my friends from me. and at times, my dignity. it humbled me and really shoved me back ten steps. and it was never the same. and that loss is such an immense loss. and there is just a sense of loss that radiates through my whole body. loss in so many different forms. and i find myself actively asking the universe to change the way i am navigating the loss. or losses. and instead, the losses begin to creep into my subconscious. where my dreams become nightmares of my real fears panning out right before me. standing in front of people who are pointing and laughing at my scars. a woman telling me my breasts look infected. holding my newborn baby only to realize i can’t breastfeed. someone shouting ‘mutant’ at me at the beach. my actual worst nightmares. so lately, things have just been feeling, ummmm, what’s a good word for it? overwhelming? big? colossal? i don’t even know what i am saying right now. because one of the things that i continue to say out loud to myself and to my therapist on a weekly basis is that it wasn’t supposed to be like this. i wasn’t supposed to be dying in a hospital bed two years ago. i wasn’t supposed to shave my head or start chemo. or watch a friend of twenty years walk out of my life forever. i wasn’t supposed to bathe in apple cider vinegar or battle mrsa three times. i wasn’t supposed to miss the moments in my marriage or have my breasts amputated just after turning thirty two. i wasn’t supposed to miss that many sunrises and sunsets and birthday parties and breakfast dates. it wasn’t supposed to be like that. and in turn, i feel the exact same way about healing. it’s not supposed to be this hard or take this long. it’s not supposed to make me cry every night. it’s not supposed to hurt like this anymore. it’s supposed to be easier. and my husband just keeps sitting here, rubbing my back. reminding me that it’s okay to be here. even though i hate it here. i hate it here in this part of healing. where things feel ugly and overwhelming and exhausting and painful. here where the trauma comes in tsunami size waves and where every part of healing feels the same. heavy and hard to hold. it wasn’t supposed to be like this. it wasn’t supposed to take so much away from me. it wasn’t supposed to change me. it wasn’t supposed to push me this far into a blank space.

nothing will ever be the way it was. nothing will ever be the same. and that, that is the loss that exists in this space right now. it wasn’t supposed to be like this. the trajectory of my life. the path i was on. it wasn’t supposed to be like this. but it is. that’s the hard part. the rest of the walk, the journey, the days. this life is now supposed to look different and it’s a really big deal. i am not sure who i am supposed to be. or where. or with who. it’s hard to lay new roots down. it’s hard to trust that the universe will not violently rip them from the soil. it’s hard to think that i won’t have to start all over again someday. it’s hard to put my faith back into the world & back into the universe. it’s hard to hand my strings back to the puppet master. because it wasn’t supposed to be like this. and i know i really don’t get a say in that anyways. but man, i really hope it’s supposed to get easier.

and i suppose i can hang in there. i suppose there is always sunshine after storms. always rainbows after rain. always a sunrise after darkness. i suppose it’ll be okay.



i haphazardly jotted down the word unwritten a few months ago. pretty sure it happened after hearing the song unwritten by natasha bedingfield come on in an old navy. much of my story has already been written. that’s the beauty of existing. life kinda marches you forward and before ya know it, some of your story is already written. published. chapters woven together and bound. and it’s kinda weird to look at your story and your chapters and see that some people didn’t make it to where your bookmark lies now. there are some moments where i stop and think about where i am in all of this and recognize that some people didn’t join me in all of what has been written. and lately, there has been this layer of fatigue that has settled on my bones and a layer of loneliness that has covered me. and i will be honest with you when i say- it hasn’t been easy lately. some days are easier & sometimes it feels like it takes everything in me to move one foot in front of the other. and grief settles itself in the smallest places and the cold harshness that it brings arrives at the strangest of moments. i can be fine one moment and wrapped in my own tears the next. because so much of my story was unwritten before my life took this rapid turn. so much of myself was unwritten before then also. and it must mean that the grief deep in my bones and the grief that is settled in the smallest places; well, it must be grieving what never was able to be written. a lot of my grief and my pain and what keeps me awake right now is about the things that will never be. so much of my life was taken from me just so i could live longer. so much of who i was had to go so i could survive. and even a year later, it still feels unfair. it still breaks my heart. it still feels hollow. and maybe i sound like a broken record by now or maybe y’all still tolerate me; but the truth is what’s unwritten hurts just as much as the parts that made it onto the pages.

it was an enormous fight. messy and rushed in the beginning. ugly and painful and unbearable for the larger stretches. it felt like the days took weeks and the weeks took years. it’s a story that has so many twists and turns and ups and downs. and a lot of it is buried so deep inside of me that i am convinced those parts will never resurface. battling cancer will never not be the largest part of who i am. there. i said it. and maybe it’s me who is still struggling with the fact that it’s true. and i read something today that said that in times of deep and hard transition, “you’ll always have you”. and for me, it feels like that can’t be true. because as i attempt to ungracefully navigate this huge sadness and massive life transition, i can’t help but notice that there is nothing left of me. from before. nothing carried over. and i just want the pieces of me to reassemble themselves right here, right now. like the power rangers. but instead, this transition feels heavy and painful and buried in grief. you’ll always have you. ehhhh. not when it’s been chopped off into pieces and stamped with a capital c. not when your story that connects you to who you were is so wet from your tears and too painful to recount. not when the past is so laced with trauma that it’s easier to just stand back. when the future holds as much uncertainty as the whole story does. there is so much to still write. in my life pages. as a person healing from cancer. as a person healing from a broken heart. as a person who has buried a version of themselves that took thirty years to perfect. as a person who is trying to be somebody after already being somebody. the written parts of infectious disease doctors and planning my funeral from an intensive care unit bed followed by the written parts of cancer, oncologist visits, tear covered pillows and mrsa outbreaks. those are the things that disappeared from my ‘to be written’ story. and now the dust has settled on what gets earmarked as a couple bad years to most people but for me, it shifted everything. it changed the chapters ahead and crinkled the pages of the finished ones. it altered the plans i had for what still hasn’t been written. and while i respect that we don’t always get what we want; the universe and i really disagree on when it’s my turn for a break. and right now, no chapter writing makes sense to me. there isn’t an ounce of energy left in me to give myself up to the next chapter. because right now, i am stuck. in this place that i am willing to bet most people thought was long forgotten. but it’s this place between calm and chaos. where everything stands still. it’s this big pocket of reflection and self awareness but it’s also where grief tends to rest. right now, i am in an ugly phase of the grief journey. one that i have nimbly jumped from stone to stone in. and one that brings a different emotion almost hourly. and i say this after a full meltdown crosslegged on my bed two nights ago. it happened after seeing my reflection in a parking garage glass wall while walking to my car. i felt like the reflection was this unfinished and horrific person. with uneven body parts and an overfilled chest. and when i passed the mirror in my bathroom on the way to take a shower later that evening, that same uneven and unfinished reflection was staring back at me. and twenty minutes later, i am sobbing quietly into my pillow. because this part; this painful part in the many painful parts of healing; this part wasn’t in my plan. this part wasn’t in the written notes. these unwritten sections of my story are beginning to pan out in ways that don’t fit the original script. and there is still so much that is unwritten. there is still so much more that belongs in my narrative. and my brain and my heart are stuck in this ugly trauma pattern. and the unwritten parts of my story feel untouchable. that they will be tainted by what was just laid out on paper.

so truth be told; my story didn’t pan out the way i wanted it to pan out. a lot of the chapters that i had planned, had pages that got left in the rain. it’s been rough. and honestly, it still is. there is so much rooted in me that is lined with grief and built from trauma. there is so much of me unhealed and sad. there is so much of me that feels unfinished and broken. there is so much that is unwritten. and as i sobbed through an hour of virtual trauma therapy today, my therapist reminded me that things can be broken and beautiful. things can be black & white. you can dance in the rain. you can have a happy life & still be sad. my story is not finished. my pain and grief and healing will not be on every page or consume every chapter.

these are the moments that are being written. these are the things that build the next chapters. it’s unwritten. and that’s okay.


fault lines.

hi. it’s me, again. just a week after my last write up. how clever and cute of me. but in reality, i am in this awful place with my body right now. and we’ve talked about this before. how my relationship with this version of myself is one that feels ultra disconnected. i feel immensely alienated from my body. there is barely a pulse. the tension is thick. there is very little acknowledgment. and honestly, i know how damaging that is. i know that i need to be appreciative of what my body has been through to be here, right now. but it’s not this body. i buried that body just under a year ago. on february second of last year, i sobbed for hours upon hours. i wrote the saddest goodbye letter. i gave my body over to cancer. i lost my femininity. i lost my frame. i lost parts of me. so the body that you see now. the one that holds me in place. this body. it didn’t do the heavy lifting or the hard work. it’s a replacement. and it’s unfinished and messy. it’s the in between version. it feels incomplete and disconnected. it feels foreign and strange most days. the pulse. the drive. the familiarity and warmth. they just aren’t there. and most people will chide me with something less than cute. like the light at the end of the tunnel. or be positive. or it’ll be your turn one day. but my brain cannot handle it. i am in this space with my body where all i can think about is how i have truly failed. failed at keeping myself away from the things they talk about in hushed tones. the big c. i never smoked. i never snuck out. i never did drugs. i stayed in school. ya know, listened to the d.a.r.e message. i was doing it all right. or at least i thought i was. and then boom! my life literally feels like the fresh prince of bel air theme song. my life got flipped, turned upside down. and what i realized today is just how many fault lines have been created in the last two years. delicate cracks in what i consider to be the map of who i am. these massive lines separating parts of me. these divides and splits. but the issue is that fault lines are precious. they are not designed for pressure or for weight. they can’t hold the heavy stuff. and i can say that as the fault lines that exist within me begin to split wide open. because fault lines are cracks in the surface. and sometimes, they get too deep & they become these massive divides. and i was cracked on the surface long before my great life crisis began. fault lines created from trauma and stress and heartbreak. small but palpable. and these last two years- well, they’ve cracked me wide open. so much so that i am unable to faithfully pick up the pieces and know what goes where.

and so here i am. one day from hitting one year in remission. from an aggressive cancer that i beat at the age of thirty two. with lots of my life behind me. and whatever amount lies in front of me. and what am i doing? crying in full sobs on a virtual therapy appointment. tears soaking my survivor shirt that i wore to my survivorship appointment earlier today. crying. because my therapist asked me what i needed most out of today. and the words just tumbled from my mouth. i need to stop the trauma cycles. i need it all to be easier. i need to connect with whatever the hell this is. because someone recently told me that sometimes we never get rid of our traumas. and maybe that’s true. and my therapist nodded. and she said, that’s true sometimes. but it doesn’t mean we have to live through them everyday anymore. and for an hour virtually, i let it all kinda fall out into my lap. that this year was hard also. because i do not identify with the person i am now. the remnants of the person i had beautifully built before the world splintered me apart. before an infectious disease took over. before the tumors began tripling in size. before i lost all of my hair and my skin peeled off. before my chest was amputated and my stomach sliced across the waist, hip to hip. before i lost myself in the grief. in the anger. in the betrayal. in the sadness. and there is so much to be said about the loss that comes packaged with the medical traumas in my life. particularly the loss that gets bundled into an amputation. and on the eve of the one year anniversary of my amputation, i find myself in a really confusing place. similar to where i found myself this time last year. in this unique tangle between failure and disconnect. where i still feel so detached from the frame that carries me everywhere & from the frame that no longer exists. that in even a year, we haven’t become friends. in three hundred and sixty five hellos and goodbyes, i still can’t recognize myself. and the healing is taking an eternity. the forgiveness feels out of reach. the fault lines feel like they are quaking. and life feels different. everything feels different.

and i can’t help but wonder if everything has to be different just because of what i have been through. did the world completely shift because of my fault lines? sometimes it feels like nothing is the same. down to the very smallest faults. down to the hair on my head and the socks in my sock drawer. and my fault lines feel like they widen in some places and shrink in others. and sometimes i feel swallowed whole by my traumas. and other days, i can stare at them and not even bat an eye. but the truth is, i am working on stepping over the fault lines. navigating a space and trek that feels safe and comfortable. it’s really hard. like really hard. because some days the earth is soaked from my tears and it feels like i will sink into the cracks beneath me. and other days, the sun shines bright and the cracks seep away. and each day, i just keep moving. along the fault lines. among the fault lines. one step at a time towards healing. it’s slow as hell. i bet it looks that way from where you’re standing too.

but sometimes it feels like the fault lines are my fault. and sometimes it feels like the universe just shakes me too hard. and the cracks are still there. and all i can do is acknowledge them & step gracefully over them.



i met with my therapist just a few days before the holidays began. it felt like one of the most important times to sit down and talk with her. and you’re probably wondering why and that’s because my life is starting to feel a little deja vu like. with omicron slowly creeping closer and closer to my small inner circle, the post traumatic stress is at an all time high. and sometimes i think people think that i am joking when i say that i still have lingering trauma from the early months of twenty twenty. but it’s definitely here. and definitely something i have to cope with. every single day. and so for about forty minutes of my hour long therapy session, i practiced reminding myself out loud that i am not currently infected with the virus. i do not have an active infection. i am not fighting for my life against the virus. i am vaccinated against the virus. i am alive. oof, that last one. sometimes that one feels challenging to say. not because it isn’t true. and not because i don’t believe it. it’s just hard to say after all that has happened. and sometimes the things that are happening around me or the things that other people do, create this high level of panic to bubble. and it causes this mass hysteria to build inside me. and i find myself awake at one o’clock in the morning, with tears pouring down my face as i hover over a virus at home test kit. true story. where i begin to cower like the days after entering recovery. constantly worried about it and constantly panicked about reinfection. i prayed for a vaccine for a year. a whole year. i waited and prayed that the people i loved would keep my story tucked in their minds and stay safe. and now, we are just circling the two year drain. and the viral uptick is happening. and people are still spreading misinformation. and people i know have it. and it feels real and it feels big. and i could literally cry right now just thinking about the pain of the last two years. and that’s the spiral. the one my therapist says i keep trying to go down. not intentionally of course. it’s just a little too close to home. it’s just a little too real again. and the spiral; well it’s easy. the first spin of the spiral is easy. familiar. hopping into it only takes one comment or one news headline.

and there are days that feel calm and normal. there are weekends that feel stress free and don’t come packaged with anxiety about the world around me. and i remind myself consistently that healing isn’t linear. that my traumas are healing. in their own time. at their own pace. and sometimes the spiral opens directly underneath me. because something has happened and it’s impacting my ability to heal. and maybe that’s what needs to be known. is what healing from trauma looks like for someone fresh out of hell. it’s painful. it’s triggering. it’s overwhelming. it’s challenging. sometimes it even feels burdensome. it’s easy to begin to restock the shelves of your inner self with all the ins and outs of what’s happened and what’s hurting. because it feels like it’s too much to share. that it won’t be held properly. that the wrong move or the wrong words will cause everything to splinter and shatter. because how other people carry my trauma and my healing directly impacts my trauma and my healing. and sometimes it’s easier to just stuff it in the way back closet & ignore it. until it surfaces at eleven o’clock on a sunday night. in the form of tear stained pillowcases and a box of tissues. but in all seriousness, no one understands it. and that’s okay. and let me remind you that by saying no one understands it, i am NOT saying that no one cares. those aren’t synonymous. can’t stand it when people make my feelings about them. but what i am learning after a very long first year of remission is that healing looks different from the inside. how my healing looks and feels and sounds is probably not how my healing looks to you all. and that’s because what i share is what i share. and i get that. but the nitty gritty; the really ugly; the painfully painful parts. those are the ones that are right here. nestled into the crevices around my heart. they are the things i carry. and will carry. for the rest of my life. and because i am still at a point in my journey where if i talk about cancer for more than like ninety seconds before tears consume me- it’s pretty safe to say that i am still in the thick of it. and sure, i could break it down into the sum of its parts. for sure. the long version & the short version.

and here it is. i battled an infectious disease alone for nearly six weeks. when no one knew what to do or what to say. my family was afraid of me. i was afraid of me. and i spent a very, very, very long time alone. i know what is feels like to be dying. and it’s an experience i am unable to forget. i have been in the throes of trauma induced nightmares. many nights awake after watching other people die of the same infectious disease. i have been to four hundred and sixty two pages worth of doctor visits. four hundred and sixty two pages. that’s my medical record length from march twenty twenty to now. i have been told i have cancer while alone in my bed. i have met oncologists alone. surgeons alone. did five rounds of chemo alone. i lost all of my beautiful hair. i had one third of my body amputated. i have been riddled with sores and pain. i stopped eating for six weeks. i had my abdomen sliced open eighteen inches across. and was open at the waist for sixteen weeks. i had stage two breast cancer at the age of thirty one. one of the friends that i thought would be around forever walked away from my life ten days after i started chemotherapy. i moved into a new apartment. my dog had a knee replacement. i stopped working. i waited for a vaccine for a year only to see the world reject it & call it fake. i have buried three friends who battled cancer at the same time as me. survivor’s guilt is crippling. i waited and waited and waited to have my body revised. for my scarred and stitched frame to feel whole again. only to be diagnosed with something caused by the drugs i took to save my life. and now here i am. in the third year of the pandemic. with the numbers surging and the mask mandates returning. swabs every single week. cancelled plans. trauma returning. and i find myself in an interesting place. one that is strikingly similar to the spring of twenty twenty. where my trauma is present. and it’s mine. and it very well may never fully heal. but around me, there are people who are comfortable to walk over it or saturate it in insecurities. there are people who feel comfortable enough to stop asking about it and there are people who don’t even believe it to exist. and there still seems to be this place where i cannot comfortably hold space; just me and the shit that i have been through. that fear and worry and anger and betrayal can’t be present. that the past is in the past. and yeah, elsa says that. but she also says let it go and that doesn’t pass the vibe check. because how can you let something go, when it is a literal part of you? how can you push past something that has taken everything from you? how can you swallow your traumas and lead them to the darkest parts of your belly so that they don’t come out in front of everyone? because it literally feels impossible. it feels impossible to try and hide the person i am now that my trauma has changed me.

i guess what i really want is for my trauma to be welcomed. like i am not suggesting you set a place for it at the dinner table. it doesn’t eat. but it doesn’t deserve to be ignored or shoved to the side. sure; my trauma is uglier than some. but it’s mine. and it’s a pretty large part of who i am. and i know that nobody really signed up for that. but without my trauma, would you call me brave or strong or resilient? probs not. and that’s okay. but what i have been through is what i have turned into. this is me. and while i have been working really hard to slough my traumas off of me; it’s not really working. they are here. and they are a part of my story. they broke me. they built me. they reframed me. and sure; they are sad. and that’s okay. because it’s about accepting that i cannot exist without them. they are the stories that carry me.

so i guess right now, i am looking at the traumas that i hold inside of me. one stemming from a lot of time dying alone. and the other deeply rooted in the failure of myself to my body. and i am spinning in the world that exists around me. and often blaming myself for the existence of these traumas. and i guess i just want the world to lay off a bit. to not hurt so much. to be easier on my heart. to not remind me of my failures and faults. to not question me and the traumas i hold. to just hold space.

there. it. is. just hold space. let me be this person that i am. with the ugly parts of my life. believe me. i know how ugly they are. let me be angry or sad or anxious or in grief. let those things exist. not on a timeline. not on a clock. not on a calendar. just hold space.

we all need space held. for the bad days. for the obnoxious moments. for the flat tires. for the sleepless nights. for the sick babies. for the moments. any and all of them. and sometimes, holding space is almost like holding someone’s heart.

i am holding space for anyone who needs it. xoxo.


it only took me twenty four hours to decide on my word for the year ahead. i told you all that i would let you know when i did. it was a battle, for sure. but as i lay on my husband’s chest earlier tonight, with my tears dripping onto his tee shirt; i realized that my word for twenty twenty two had to be the word w•h•o•l•e. whole. as in one piece. as in everything. as in entirety. whole. fitted into one. whole. and as i lay there quietly crying on his chest, which by the way is a favorite past time, i said out loud to him- “i think my blog just helps people understand where my head is. why i feel so lost. so incomplete. why i just don’t feel whole.” and that’s it. it’s true. after the messy few years of my life that just recently passed, i just feel like i exist here. the purpose feels off. the significance has disappeared. people walked out of my life during an immense crisis. and i can’t help but question if there is something wrong with the version of myself that is left after all of that. sometimes i feel that all people can see is the shell that is left after fighting and grieving and healing and falling apart. because let me tell ya, the putting yourself back together after all of that is just, wow, it’s a lot. it’s more than you could ever imagine. and at this exact moment, eleven months in remission and nearly a year out from a life altering surgery- i still find myself looking for the missing parts. some of those parts are things i can never get back. and some are parts that don’t even fit anymore. and some are parts that i never needed to begin with. but it still feels incomplete. still feels empty. still feels three quarters of the way finished.

whole. complete. finished. something that just doesn’t seem to be how i feel right now. as i find myself in limbo between my life before cancer and my life now, after. but somehow, everyone else seems to see me as whole. a whole lot of whole actually. a whole person. with a whole experience. and a whole lot of strength. and for me, i just keep circling back to all the things that feel like they are missing. and all the things that don’t feel like they belong to me. and all the things that i miss. and all the ways that i couldn’t possibly be whole. because everything feels incomplete right now. everything feels a little off center and a little skewed. this version of me, the one that exists right now, in this moment, in this space- it just doesn’t feel complete. and i know, i know. i one thousand percent know what you are thinking right now. girl, you’re crazy. you are already whole. in more ways than one. and sure maybe that’s true. and maybe that’s how the world sees me. but my trauma. it’s getting in the way. it’s blocking the view. it’s skewing the way that i can see myself. it’s broken me in some of the deepest parts of myself. it’s cracked me in such ways that sometimes, i don’t know how to glue it all back evenly.

and in the last two years, i have been in the depths of hell. all by myself. watching parts of me literally be stripped away. i watched cancer wreck havoc on my body and my brain. i watched the virus attack every cell of my body. i watched my best friend of twenty years walk away from me. i watched my marriage struggle to survive. and i pieced all of those things back together. i realized that my life was important and i truly found the friends who deserve to be titled the best. i rescued my marriage from the depths of grief. and i swam to the surface when i honestly did not have anything left inside of me. and on the other side of cancer and treatment and survival is this other place. this space where you are quite literally handed the shreds and shards of your former self. and nothing fits right anymore. and your tolerance is low. and your standards are different. and you expect nothing. and people look at you differently. some with an immense amount of pride or awe. and some with never ending sympathy. and some think you can’t possibly do anything anymore. and some think it’s all a thing of the past. and it’s hard to figure out what’s true and what’s not. to really find who you are in the mess that’s left. but in it, you’re still whole. in one whole piece.

so yeah. yup. i picked the word ‘whole’ for the year ahead. for twenty twenty two. two years after my life shifted entirely and i found myself up against well, up against myself. oddly enough. and even though i don’t feel whole; i know that i need to use this year as an opportunity to prove to myself that i am. always have been. that nothing is truly missing. that i am in fact whole. maybe it’ll take two months. maybe it’ll take all year. but this year is about reminding myself, showing myself, proving to myself that everything is already here. the pieces are already here. everything that makes me the person my husband loves, my family loves, my friends love, my students love- those pieces make me a whole damn human. one really amazing human.

whole. it’s my word. maybe it’s your word too. that’s cool. we can share. we are entirely made of the pieces of our lives. of our traumas. of our experiences. and those pieces- they make us whole.



hi. happy new year! i am sure you know by now that the word ‘resolution’ makes me cringe every single time i see it. social media is practically graffitied with the word resolution right now. and it’s not that i don’t think it’s awesome or great to start the new year off on a certain kind of foot. no, it’s not that. it’s just that the word resolution almost ensures that there will be this immense, torturous pressure looming. that one wrong step or one carbohydrate will send you down this tunnel of doom. that if you don’t actually hit ten thousand steps in a day- well, the world will implode. and while i am the queen of creating my own dramatic narratives and that implode might be a bit too much- for me, it just feels like there is this weight. hanging over me when i try to create some grand plan for the new year. instead, i like to pick a word for the year. and in case you’re wondering, no. my word is not eleven. i haven’t picked one yet. i know, i know! it’s the second and i am already behind! see?! that’s why i didn’t make a resolution. selfish, i know. but the truth is. right now, my brain feels connected to several words for the year ahead. and i am waiting for one to hook itself to me and latch on before i make my choice to leave the others for another time. and i promise, you’ll know my word when it comes to me. but for now, i am just kinda living right here. in this space. the one that i always talk about. there’s a lot happening right now. and while i am working really hard to not let myself spin out of control, it takes a lot of work to tame the trauma. to stay low to the ground. to ignore the news. to drown out the mass amounts of misinformation on the internet. to not feel shame in traveling. to not panic on a flight filled with anti-maskers. to control what i can control. oh man- it takes almost all of my energy. and as we enter a new year & leave behind one of my least favorite ones- it feels heavy to try to fix everything that didn’t go my way in the previous three hundred and sixty five days. and right now, there’s just a lot of trauma resurfacing. and trust me, people roll their eyes at me all the time when i say that. and i have honestly stopped giving a shit. because my trauma is my trauma. and your trauma is your trauma. and there is literally no shame in that. in whatever broke you or stripped you of parts of you. maybe it’s a person. or a place. or an event. maybe it’s a lot of things, all strung together. maybe it’s just a day in your life or if you’re like me, a whole eighteen months. maybe it’s something no one else knows about. or maybe everyone knows. either way, it’s yours & it matters. if there is anything that i have learned in the last two years; it’s that no one cares more about healing from your trauma than you do. there! i said it. the ugly truth. because what hurt you or broke you or shattered you or pushed you eighty five steps back- well it belongs to you. it impacted you. it made its mark on you. and while other people should be as invested in helping you heal; it just doesn’t always go that way. and right now, some of my trauma is right back on the front page of every newspaper. it’s on every single grocery store sign. it’s at every pharmacy. every work email. every instagram story. the virus. the one that wrapped it’s neat little claws around me two years ago and tore me up one side and down the other. that one. and while my fear of contracting it doesn’t have a heavy grip anymore; the trauma induced anxiety often visits. flashbacks and panic attacks. vivid sensations and reminders. smells and sounds. lots of triggers are back & present.

a few weeks ago, my college roommate called me. she and i go way back. like two thousand eight way back. we don’t talk often and that’s okay. we love each other from across the country. but anyways, it was strange to see her call. because we just don’t talk on the phone like that. but regardless, i picked up the phone and the first thing she said was- “how the hell did you do this without a vaccine?” instantly, i knew she had the new variant. and it brought tears to my eyes and goosebumps to every inch of my skin. she said it again. “how the hell did you do this without a vaccine?” i laughed. not a funny laugh. an exhausted laugh. the kind you laugh when someone finally gets it. but it’s too late or it’s the wrong person. in this case, my fully vaccinated college roommate has the virus. she also has an infant who can’t be vaccinated. and the virus didn’t grace her due to poor practices or lack of diligence. it came from someone else’s ignorance. but the point is- how did i do it without a vaccine? honestly, i don’t know how to answer that one. there are days when it felt like i was treading water but the water was syrup. other days, it felt like i wasn’t doing anything to put up a fight. some days, i prayed to anything that moved. and other days, i planned my funeral. people say i have this fight inside me. and maybe that’s true. who knows. people say i did whatever i had to do and honestly, sometimes that doesn’t feel true either. and i think that’s exactly how i got to this point right here. all of things other people say stacked next to me. next to me and the traumas that i carry with me. believe me, i have tried to drop them off or leave them behind. tried dumping them with someone else or stripping them off in a therapy session. i have literally tried handing them off and i have tried to ignore them. i have pretended they don’t exist. i have even gone as far as to agree with those who have told me to move on from them. but trauma doesn’t go away just by telling it to ‘talk to the hand’. and it definitely can’t go anywhere when you’re in the deepest parts of healing while also grieving while also entering year two of a raging pandemic. it just doesn’t pass the vibe check. and so yeah, i have stopped asking people how they feel about my trauma. and more importantly, i have stopped caring how others feel about my trauma. because there are people who laugh at it or scoff at it or brush it off. and that’s their business. not mine. and maybe that’s the biggest step i have taken in healing this broken mess that i currently am. and sure, you can scream at me for saying that about myself. but again, that’s your business, not mine. because i know what’s going on inside me. i know what still feels lost and torn. i know what is held together with glue and twine. i know what will never be the same and i know what never left. it’s hard to explain it all. it really is.

and tonight, i asked my husband if he loved me. a question i probably ask him twenty times a day. and his response is always ‘of course i do’. and i asked him, ‘well do you still love me even though i am not the same person you met ten years ago?’ he paused and said ‘well, of course i do’. and of course, i questioned that and he said ‘it’s just one of those things that’s hard to explain. but yes, i still love you. even after all the years.’ and that’s the thing. there have been many versions in the time my husband has loved me. versions not even worthy of remembering. versions that lasted a whole year. some versions only lasting a month or two. like when i had an obsession with lularoe. or when i broke my nose. or when i dyed my hair green. or when i started wearing makeup. or when i tattooed my eyebrows. or when i had no hair. or when all my skin peeled off after my second round of chemo. or when i had my breasts amputated. or the whole year i have existed without nipples. or the six months we lived apart while i was in treatment. dozens of versions. and this one, well- lots of people love this version. and me, well- i feel indifferent. i feel incomplete. but it’s me. and my traumas. and we are here. asking to be loved. and it’s exhausting. but i hope no one gives up.

because i fought hard to be here through a virus. without a vaccine. and i battled through chemo. without a peep. and here i am, eleven months in remission today. and the trauma feels big. and the world feels the same. and the healing feels hard. but that’s okay. because i have eleven months behind me. and that’s pretty incredible.

so here’s to eleven. and to whatever word i choose for this year. and to anyone who holds trauma. it’s okay. it’s yours. keep it and respect it. learn from it and heal alongside it. and to those who continue to love me while i can’t love myself, you’re the real mvps.


a way out.

i wrote a good chunk of this blog post in my head and out loud to myself as i drove into the city of baltimore last week. two days in a row actually. and while baltimore means more to me now than it ever has; it’s still one of the most triggering drives. i was diagnosed with stage zero breast cancer over the phone last august. i was sitting cross legged on my queen size mattress at one o’clock in the afternoon. ten days later, it had morphed to stage two. and i began looking for a second opinion. the idea of seeking treatment in the city just frazzled me. traffic and parking and winter and snow and not accessible via ambulance from my parents house. a fifty five minute commute every time someone wanted to poke me or examine me or lay eyes on me. but i caved and said yes to the best medical team along the coast. making that decision felt huge. and all the decisions that came after that one. they were also immense. filled to the brim with heaviness. sometimes guilt. sometimes sadness. sometimes regret. and one of the hardest parts of being here, ten months in remission is allowing yourself to be okay. to be okay right here. in this moment. in this space. because the rug has been pulled out a few too many times. there have been way too many inconveniences. way too many appointments and doctors. surgeries and brave moments. i have been called a hero more in the last year of my life than all the years stacked together.

and sometimes i think people want me to feel like the rug can’t possibly go anywhere ever again. for sure. by now i must’ve stapled it to the ground. no, super glued it. no, cemented it. but my life has never been simple. it’s a comedy show at this point. just the amount of times the rug has been pulled. the amount of times it’s been a big ass rug, time and time and time again. and honestly, it’s fine. i truly believe that perhaps i was created for all the moments that have happened and will happen. and not in some like weird, superstitious kinda way. but just in a like i have survived all of these moments. all of these big, terrible and heartbreaking moments. i was created for them. i survived them. i made it through them. and i made it to this really weird, almost post-apocalyptic place called survivorship. and i know, calling it that probably seems weird. but it fits, i promise. it’s this really lonely place. like realllllly lonely. no doctors or appointments. no one checking on you. no one getting a pulse on how your brain might be feeling or if your heart is healing. it’s very much giving me ‘take care of yourself’ vibes and that’s cool. like that’s okay with me. it’s just that it’s a lot for me. to navigate it all. and sure, as i lay here in my bed fighting the insomnia episode twenty seven while my husband snores as loudly as humanly possible next to me- i know that i have come a long way from my march twenty twenty days. those days were laced with absolute terror and fear and trauma and loneliness. and death. death just sat there quietly the whole damn time. and for some reason, i slipped past her twice. and i have come far from those early days after the virus. the days where i walked half a mile twice a day in the frigid spring air. forty two days locked in a room. that feeling of leprosy has scarred me for life. where the people i loved and knew would only wave to me from a window or on a facetime call. it shattered me. wrecked me. to feel untouchable. to feel unlovable in those moments. because having cancer just four months after fighting for my life in an intensive care unit lends itself to similar vibes. the untouchable. the unlovable. it sinks me into this place where i can’t be loved as this person that i am. but yet, i have come so far. and my therapist said to me last thursday that i found a way out. and i asked her what she meant by that. and she simply said- the darkness. you found a way out. and i laughed. not loudly or in a way that made it seem silly. but just in the sense that, well yeah sure. a way out. of the big darkness. the one that was pitch black and covered me. that one. it felt like it was dark for so long. and even now, there are dark days. dark moments. not in a like call the psych ward kind of way. but just in general. ones that get blanketed in sadness or grief. those weird down days. that sift in and out of my life.

earlier this week i had what i call and label as a sad day. a bad body day. that’s what i say to my husband to describe it. i will just sit on my bed and cry. and he will wrap his arms around me and kiss my temple and i will whisper- ‘it’s a bad body day’. and he will nod and say ‘i am sorry. it’s okay.’ because finding a way out doesn’t mean the world is always kind. it doesn’t mean that the lemons aren’t thrown. it doesn’t mean that the rug doesn’t get pulled out from under me. i guess it just means i found a way out of the deepest, darkest, ugliest parts. and i have managed to stay out. through all of it. through the chemotherapy and the amputation of my breasts and the surgery to reconstruct them. and the sixteen brutal weeks of healing. and the ends of decade long friendships. and the meltdowns on my closet floor when none of my clothes fit. i managed to stay out through the rebuilding of my desecrated marriage. the one that was shredded to pieces by medical trauma. stayed out of it through a year of dissertation work. and the loss of three friends to the same heinous disease. stayed out of it as i returned to work. in a still raging pandemic. through the delta variant. and now omicron. stayed out of it through a major surgical setback and a new diagnosis. through new weekly injections in the abdomen and a nine month wait list. the bad days; well they still find their way back to me. and this week was filled with one of those days where none of my clothes fit and i ate cookies at my desk and i had to run to the grocery store after work and there is this fear that radiates through me. the fear that the way i feel about my body after cancer is the way everyone feels about my body after cancer. and it just comes from the months and months i have spent working on finding a way out. and here we are; climbing the hill towards one year in remission. one year out from chemotherapy. with clear scans from last week. and sometimes it feels like the light ahead is for me. that the way out; the true way out is just ahead. because i have come a long way. not just from march twenty twenty to now. but in general, i guess. a few days ago, a memory popped up on my social media timeline. it was a blog post from twenty nineteen where i congratulated myself on reaching eighteen months in my journey of self discovery. and wow, it feels a little ironic that my self discovery was barely palpable then compared to now. if only that version knew this version. what a story that would be. and i keep reminding myself that even if no one else can see it; i have come a long way. i haven’t found the full way out. but i have cleared the path so far. it’s been ugly and messy. it’s been sad and it’s been lonely. it’s been filled with big decisions and it’s also been filled with moments that have broken me into the smallest parts. but in finding the paths that lead out, i have also learned to cope with the darkness. when it sneaks back in and nestles amongst me. i have learned what triggers me and what rattles my trauma filled core. and even though i am still working through the accepting phase of my body; i know that will be part of finding the way out also. sometimes finding a way out means going back in and facing the demons head on. sometimes finding a way out isn’t always easy or quick or painless. sometimes finding a way out means losing yourself in the process. which is painful and grief filled. it’s the abandonment of yourself. in the most intimate and heart wrenching way. to shed yourself on your way out. to ask yourself to stay behind. so that you can find your way out. it’s one of most intense emotional experiences you could ever imagine.

finding a way out. that’s what my therapist said to me. you’ve found a way out, alix. she’s one of the few people who call me that. you’ve found a way out, she said. and i nodded. and i said, ‘i am trying.’ that’s all you can do. every day. working to find your way out. fully and completely. but there’s no rush. it’s okay to be here. wherever that is for you. for me; it’s this place that lies humbly between grief and gratitude. halfway in and halfway out.

and i think i might be here for a bit. and that’s okay. i have come a long way. resting for a while on my way out.



i realized today that i have entered a new place in the mind numbing journey that is grief. i don’t think it has a name. i guess if you look at the different stages of grief, this one loops into pain and loneliness. it’s weird. but all i know is that where i am right now is a heavy body dysmorphic place. there are moments where sometimes all i think about is my old body. trying to remember how it felt to get dressed. reminiscing how it felt to be held and loved in that frame. sometimes, it’s all i think about. in the late nights or early sleepless mornings. feeling disconnected from the body i hold now and longing for the warmth and security of the body that’s been gone for ten months. and sometimes, it aches because the memories of my old body are starting to slip. i can’t remember what i looked like without scars and trauma. my mind has wrapped itself in this one and is working on building a connection. and in that, it’s slowly pulling away from the body we lost. and yeah, i am still struggling. ten months into remission. and yeah, it still pulls me into full sobs. because acceptance of something that wasn’t a choice is often a part of grief that i struggle with and never visit only once. my reflection has been with me this whole time, since i graced the earth with my presence. but now it’s different. and with a broken heart, we stare at each other with a mouth full of toothpaste. and it just doesn’t feel like home. the reflection feels foreign. this body feels empty and cold. my true shape and form are a fading memory and it brings fresh tears to my eyes. because my whole existence was snatched from me just over a year ago. when my life just took a rapid hard left and brought me to this exact place. one where sometimes all i think about is those days before it all changed. sometimes it feels like a fever dream. like this can’t possibly be real. and believe me, i want it to be different. i want to be in that place of gratitude without the grief. i want to love this chance at life again while fondly remembering my former self in such a subtle way. but i find myself awake at two in the morning, crying. wanting nothing more from the universe than a chance to be who i was again; just for a moment or two. it’s a weird place in this grief journey. honestly, the waves and ebbs and tides and hurricanes of grief that still flow in and out of my life are a little tumultuous at times. i thought by now it would be different. that the grief would be different. that the period of mourning would have subsided. but it just kinda moves in and out at its own pace. sometimes shifting me on the shore so much that i can’t find my original place in all of it.

and lately, my focus has been on how my grief looks to others. which doesn’t pass the vibe check. i shouldn’t care about what comfort level other people are on with my trauma and my grief. right now, everything just feels a little off. like there is a little cloud passing in front of the sun. i find myself in both places- surrounded by sunshine and the beautiful parts of survivorship but also in the tunnels of grief and sadness without a flashlight. it’s pure chaos in my heart and in my brain. it feels broken and messy and sometimes, it feels like i haven’t moved an inch towards healed at all. grief just kinda tumbles you into these strange passageways. suddenly and blindly. and right now, i find myself clinging to anything and everything that will hold me close to the person i once was. but i am being pushed towards this new self. like the universe is shoving me from one place to the next. but secretly, i laid glue here. so that i could stay awhile. because this new version- well, she and i just don’t vibe. it’s the massive battle between the old and the new. there isn’t enough space for both.

and today, i met with my trauma therapist. the one i found in june of twenty twenty just weeks after making it out alive from a covid intensive care unit. one where i fought for my life alone for eight days. amidst a forty two day isolation period. in the middle of a growing pandemic. that one. she’s still here. as my trauma therapist. because well, trauma just kept showing up. and here we are. eighteen months later, still navigating through the ugliest parts of my life. the things that keep me up. the things that pop into my dreams. the things that make me sob on a tuesday afternoon. the things that still matter. they still matter even ten months after successfully beating cancer. they still matter nearly twenty months after beating a raging infectious disease that has killed nearly eight hundred thousand people. they still matter. because they are still here. circling the drain. fueling the trauma that lives in my core. and it’s not like i have been sitting on my ass this whole time. waiting for the right time to heal. i literally have been working through it since i exited state mandated isolation. and i have been diligent about putting in the work and the hours. to heal from it all. to ask all the trauma to leave. the trauma that’s been here for years and the trauma that just joined the party in the last eighteen months. it’s a big ask. and today was the start of yet another part of healing. where my brain and my body get to begin regulating. something that can’t happen until your body feels safe. and i no longer count the days til cancer reappears. i don’t stress over scans or appointments. if it does, okay. if it doesn’t, even better. i certainly won’t hang my hat on never. we know how that looks. but anyways, back to what i was saying. new work has begun. new trauma work. and maybe you can hear my eye rolls from wherever you are reading this but nonetheless, i really am not excited about it. because trauma work, regulating, healing- whatever you wanna call it; it’s hard. it feels like staring at the top of everest and you haven’t even finished lacing up the hiking boots. and it feels big. to begin this leg of the very, very long journey. and it feels like it should be over. it feels like the sadness and the loneliness and the grief should have been swallowed up in the remission drain. but we are still here. and in both places too. a place of immense gratitude to be here. alive and well after so many months of waiting and working towards remission. but also, in a trauma space. where my brain and my body are really not regulating outside of active trauma. and in meditation this week with my therapist, i reached a point where i could hold my sadness. i could pick up my sad part and hold onto it. like a suitcase. and all my body and brain could do is shift me into wondering how to be loved. how to be loved in a version that feels unlovable. in a version that feels unfinished and incomplete. maybe it’s me. maybe i am the problem. maybe it’s me. but i keep reminding myself that this place that i am in right now is ugly. and lonely. and weird. and often clashes with absolutely everything around. and it’s hard being in this immense season of gratitude. with so much to be thankful for. and it’s not that the gratitude is not there. believe me, it’s thicker than anything else. but it’s also really hard right now. my cancer group leader once compared cancer patients to towers. built in such a way that even the harshest winds and wildest storms couldn’t knock a tower down. but towers always feel this pressure to stand straight and remain mighty. and maybe it’s easier when you are made of bricks or stone. but i am just flesh and bone. and strength takes a lot out of a person. it’s hard to be strong all the time. it’s hard not to sway in the wind or falter in a storm. it’s not always a tower kinda day. sometimes, i just wanna collapse. because it takes a lot of energy to be grateful and strong and tower over the adversities of my life. it takes a lot to stand in line at the grocery store in this body. or to rinse this hair under the faucet. it takes a lot to push through the chemo brain or force the chemo flashbacks out of my brain. it takes a lot to pretend it’s okay on the hard days. it’s tough work towering over. straight and tall and built to last. sometimes it really takes every ounce to not completely shed the bricks and collapse onto the sand. and sometimes, the moments between gratitude and grief are just a matter of minutes. i can be present and minutes later, a trigger sweeps me into a place of grief and trauma. it’s not intentional. it’s not a choice. it takes a lot to stand tall in the moments with hurricane force winds. in moments that quake the ground. in moments where the earth is shaking. in the moments where the last eighteen months of life just don’t seem real. that it all seems like it was a life that belonged to someone else. and some days, most of the hours feel good. and some days, sadness is super present. sometimes it doesn’t loop through my brain and other days, it’s on repeat. because the experiences and moments in that place in life; where i was clinging to stay alive. those experiences and moments are part of me. they are what built me. and sometimes they are what try to tear me down.

a tower. that’s what we look like. tall and strong. resilient and fearless. taking on whatever is thrown. weathering the storms. it’s hard to stay like that all the time. sometimes i want to sag at the moments that have broken my heart. sometimes it feels easier to set it all down and rest for a while. sometimes it feels like there are bigger towers; stronger towers; mightier towers. and that i am just here. in survivorship. navigating it. and lemme just tell you that sometimes the winds shift and the whole tower rattles and shakes. me. the tower. life. the wind. and right now, i am shaken by what has broken me. rattled by the circumstances that have brought me to this exact moment in time. and last night, i cried myself to sleep. after crying for over an hour. because the trauma that lives inside of me; the trauma that exists inside this tower; it’s exhausting to live with. one wrong move. one strong breeze. one small comment. one look in the mirror. and i can feel my bricks quake and shift. and last night was a pivotal moment in all of this. parts of the tower broke and crumbled. me. in my bed. full shoulder shaking sobs. because i refuse to stay upright through this. it’s too much sometimes. the battle to remain this incredibly fierce and inspirational warrior has me shaking at my foundation. because i have been strong when there was nothing else to be. i have stood tall when there was no other way to stand. but now, i am in the biggest, most intense identity crisis of my life. one where i feel immensely lost. one where i feel incredibly sad. one where the connections to my past self and my present self are unrecognizable. and last night, i sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. for the loss of myself. for the loss of my precious body. for the loss of what she felt like to hold and be held. in my teens. in my twenties. in my marriage. i sobbed for the moments of rejection my body has felt in the last ten months. from me. from my brain. from the place in my heart that is broken and bruised. i sobbed because there is not a single place that i feel i belong right now. i feel like i am floating between all the spaces i used to fit. trying to squeeze into the cracks and crevices that feel familiar and safe. trying to find connection. but it all feels off. it all feels different. i cried for hours last night. til my body shook from the cold air on my tear soaked pajamas. til my lungs were begging for oxygen. oxygen that wasn’t laced with salty tears. til my raspy, choked sobs rocked me to sleep. on a damp pillowcase. and i woke again a few hours later, with a migraine and an overall numbness. as if my whole body had experienced the fall of the tower. the one that i have been since i drove myself to a covid unit nearly two years ago. the one that i have been since i listened to a doctor tell me i needed six rounds of chemo on a tuesday in august with my mother on speakerphone. the one i have been since having my breasts amputated ten months ago and my abdomen stitched in jagged lines. to give me what exists now. a foreign place. an empty tower. a fallen person. the shell. all that’s left.

and last night left me numb. it left me feeling powerless to the trauma inside me. it left me feeling defeated in a battle that i supposedly won. and sure, i have shed buckets of tears in the last two years. in the ugly moments. in the healing moments. even in the moments that changed my life. as a tower, hiding my brim filled eyes in the clouds. but there’s something wild and different about being the tower. being strong when it’s basically impossible. and knowing that everyone is cheering you on; cheering for you to hold steady through the uncomfortable parts of the storm. and right now, i am in this place where the tower part of me is screaming, absolutely dying for people to recognize how hard this is. wanting the approval to let the shoulders sag and to rest. to not be a tower all the time. to fall apart every once in a while. because it’s hard to hold steady and strong all the time. and sometimes it leads to a full meltdown where i cry myself to sleep. because in this life, on this side of survivorship, i am so fearful of never finding myself. of never being able to love myself or be loved by anyone else. i am so fearful that this new version of myself will be so different from the original that no one will want to love it. and i did not put my blood, sweat and tears into survival mode just to make it here to this side and of it all and be unlovable. and i am not over here suggesting that anyone has done anything to make me feel otherwise. no, that’s not it at all. it’s me. the trauma and the pain of the last two years combined with the setbacks and the emotions and the stress. it’s created this sea of clouds. blocking my view from the tower i have become.

but perhaps it’s time to demolish said tower. break it apart brick by brick. because if i stop standing so rigid and tall in these clouds that are dampening my spirit and darkening my healing; maybe i can see what’s really here. maybe i can see healing for what it really is. maybe i can see what is already so wonderful about this person that i am. a survivor. a person who was strong when it was all that could be done.

maybe it’s time to loosen the cement and tumble the bricks. i can still be strong; even if i am not towering over all the time. i can be a tower any day i choose. but today, i am choosing to find my next move.



i constantly feel like i have to remind myself that you grow through what you go through. that growing and healing are supposed to be messy and uncomfortable and have those moments. it’s a constant conversation between me and me. that what comes on the other side of all of this, will be worth it. like i mentioned earlier this week, whatever is meant for me. and right now, i am deep in the ugly parts of grief. and maybe from the outside looking in it doesn’t appear that way, but it’s true. i am at that ugly stage in grief where i begin digging the grave. for the parts of myself that can’t continue on with me. the parts of myself that are stuck here and can’t march forward with me in the healing process. and this part of grief is a very anger driven part. it’s a lot to leave behind. and a lot of acceptance. and it’s very hard to put pieces of yourself into a place that you know you won’t be able to revisit or change your mind. but not everything can come with us into the next phase of survivorship. and this pattern of grief, well it’s different than anything else i have experienced. there are large parts of me that want to bury the whole experience. throw dirt over it all and walk away from it. most of that is fueled by anger. that if we just bury it and walk away, it’s behind us. but we also know that burying things and not healing from them just makes it worse. and this whole grieving while healing process is a lot on a person. it brings up a lot of other stuff to the surface. and suddenly you find yourself swimming in old traumas mixed with your current traumas. and all your brain and body want to do is heal. and it just feels impossible some days.

but for some reason, i keep pressuring myself to just lay the damn dirt down and walk away. but then i find myself in full tears driving home from chipotle two nights ago. and maybe you’re asking yourself- why on earth is this girl crying? and honestly, sometimes i ask myself the same question. because my life is richly blessed. and i am overtly aware. but driving home, i just found myself in this weird lonely place. where my head and my heart didn’t communicate well. my phone felt silent. it was too quiet in the car. even though i had been craving silence since eight am. but loneliness and sadness and anger. just sat there. deeply rooted at the bottom of some place inside me. and for whatever reason, it all surfaced in that short eleven minute drive home. and here’s the thing. i am angry. at the universe- duh. but also i am angry at myself. and my body. and the girl i called my best friend for twenty years who stopped talking to me ten days after my first chemo treatment. i am sad too. sad because of my body. sad because of the last eighteen months and the moments and memories taken from me. sad that i am tired more lately. sad that i am not the same girl. and for awhile, i used to try to talk myself away from these feelings. ashamed that i was still mad about something that happened in the past. but i realized recently that my feelings are my feelings and they aren’t raining on anyone else’s parade. and that i am allowed to feel some type of way about the way cancer ravaged my brain and my body. and that i can feel sad that when i look at myself in the mirror, i still can’t recognize the girl looking back at me. even though we’ve been staring at each other over the bathroom sink for nine months. it’s been nine months since i woke up to a frozen baltimore skyline. with my abdomen stitched eighteen inches across and chemotherapy a past but not distant enough memory. it’s only been nine months since the word survivor left the lips of a nurse on the fourteenth floor of my hospital. where i stayed for days alone, because of the raging pandemic outside my window. and inside me, nine months later, trauma still resides. in the hollows of my former self. filling the places that used to be occupied by who i once was. so here i am, working through the anger and the sadness. the feelings that creep up and tackle me from behind. it’s been that kinda week. or month or stretch of months. where i falter back and forth between places of gratitude and resentment. and honestly, the space in between these two places isn’t vast. they basically border each other. i can wake up grateful as hell. to be alive at thirty three. after the battle of a lifetime in a covid icu wing. to be the only person alive after eight days there. to just months later, beginning the battle against breast cancer. beaten and tired from the battle before. but i can wake up grateful to be alive after all of that. and be in full sobs by lunchtime. because my body looks broken and beaten. stitched awkwardly. almost resembling a drawstring bag. and feeling like i look like a linebacker right off the football field. a minnesota viking linebacker. and i cried again today after i hung up with the surgeon again. another nine month wait. with an august twenty twenty two date marked down. eighteen months will have passed. from amputation to revisions. and my heart cracks a little wider this time. trying to grasp a deeper understanding of why the universe keeps shattering my hopes and dreams of peace and healing. why i must carry on and march on forward looking like this, in this body. why my suffering and trauma doesn’t excuse me from more heartache. why i must keep waiting to be whole.

and ever since my world began spiraling wildly out of control two years ago, it sometimes feels like that is just how it will always be. chaotic and unfair. and that it may never be my turn to be who i want to be. in the rebirth of myself. in my second chance. in survivorship. and i want nothing more than to bury it all. to open up the ground and stuff these insecurities deep beneath the soft dirt of the earth. to stomp on the grave itself. to wipe my hands of it all. but it’s damn near impossible. to hold a funeral for something that keeps living every single day. and so each day, i keep rolling with the setbacks and disappointments. and those around me tell me that i am patient and brave. a true warrior. that the light at the end of the tunnel is there. it’s just someone added extra miles to said tunnel. and i can hear them. but it’s so hard to be brave and patient. instead i am angry and sad. that this nightmare continues. that the heart i am trying to heal keeps cracking wide open. that the things i want to bury are still riding on my back. and to carry them is heavy. believe me. to heal without being healed is asking a lot. to heal while actively in grief and navigating the loss of yourself is also a lot. and i want it all back. the parts of me that disappeared. the parts of me that months and months of isolation and trauma stole from me. the parts of me that dissolved when people left me in a time of crisis. the parts of me that don’t match the memories anymore. the hair, the skin, the body. and the phantom pains have started to creep in. pretty normal at the nine month mark. where your brain and the rest of your body begins to recognize that your amputation is permanent. and your brain and your body are sad. and so these new foreign parts ache and sting and burn. almost to remind me that i am not whole. that what’s missing will never return. and for nine more months, i will live in an unfinished body. one that aches for the original frame.

and sure, this mess of a post is probably sadder than what you might be used to. i get that. but life really has been some kinda rough lately. and i always feel compelled to stomp my sadness down. because my life could be so much worse. but then i remind myself that sadness and anger and grief are feelings that simply cannot be buried. they cannot be suffocated under the dirt of the earth. they are those feelings; the ugliest feelings of all; that must breathe. they can’t be buried until they have truly died.

and so this place that i am in- it’s a strange place for healing to happen. my heart is very fragile. my body feels very incomplete. i feel very lost in survivorship. i feel lucky to be here and grateful to be here. and sad that it took all of this to be here. and my brain makes me question if i made the right decision. and my heart tells my brain to shut up more than once a day. and the dirt is at my feet. the shovel is there too. and the desire to bury it all and rise above, well that’s there too. and i think right now, i have to work through this new avenue that has opened the cracks. i have to hold these feelings and process them. and it’s another part of healing that i wasn’t expecting. and that’s okay because one day, it’ll be buried. neatly and on my terms. with a grave that can be visited when the times are right.

but until then, i will continue to soften the dirt and spade away the weeds. one day, maybe next year, after the final stitches are sewn and my body can heal for the final time- we can take a shovel and dig a final resting place for the things that broke me.

and i can bury & rise.



when i was deep in the throes of chemo, i spent most of my nights wide awake. not much has changed about that. but when i was in treatment, i would spend those nights awake, online shopping. also not something that has changed at all either. but one night wide awake due to the steroids and the infections and the swells of depression, i bought a bracelet. one of the many that dangle from my left wrist every single day. it says ‘whatever is meant for you, will not pass by you’. i love this quote so much. so much that i saved the little card that comes attached to the bracelet and it’s hanging above my desk. and right now, the universe and i are not on speaking terms. nope. bye. talk to the hand. and i mean, let’s face it- my relationship with the universe has been rocky for a while now. and today just felt like someone let all the air out of my balloon. which was already losing helium on the regular. today, the universe took a jab at me and popped the whole damn thing. and when i hung up the phone with my surgeon’s office, my throat was already filled with sobs. because the universe just doesn’t like me. for whatever reason. it aches to think that maybe this is just how it is from now on. but i spent the better part of the morning crying into my hands at my desk. heaving sobs. my heart just full of shame and anger. the surgery cancelled. my body left to look like this for a while longer. and i just kept silently asking the universe why. kept begging for a reason. dying to know what is keeping me from what is meant for me. what is meant for you will not pass you by. so how did we get here universe? in yet another moment that shatters me open. another snag in the fabric of my life that i have been stitching together. just another thing gone awry.

and it plummets me into this place. a place where all i want to do is shutter the world and crawl into my bed. to hide from what the universe has decided is best for me, without even asking me. and sometimes i feel like a broken record; asking the universe to slow down. to give me a break. to allow me to pause for just a minute between big moments. and tonight, i fell into my own trap. i held myself in tears and just cried for hours. it feels like i will always be ugly. it feels like this will always be it. that the body that was once mine will now always be this jagged, post cancer mess. and i know, i know- i shouldn’t say that. believe me. i know. but the reality is that i don’t connect with this. we aren’t synchronized. my scars don’t make me feel like a warrior. they don’t remind me of winning the war. they make me cry. they make me look away. they remind me that i am lost right now. and this surgery, it was a piece of the puzzle. it was a deadline. it was a finish line. it was my hope. hoping that it would push me into a place where my body and heart and mind could all safely gather for a moment. where i could look in the mirror and smile. because right now, it’s just bitterness that consumes me. bitter that my body doesn’t look the way it should. that it’s ugly. that if i can’t love it, how can anyone else? and believe me when i say that i know how awful that sounds to others. but it’s my reality. and right now, the universe just seems to be pulling away what’s meant for me. and i am screaming for the universe to let it be. but it’s not working. and so here i am, at four in the morning, wanting to be in a surgical gown. but instead, i am wide awake trying to figure out what is meant for me.

because survivorship is already a lonely place. and that’s not a subtle dig at anyone. it’s just the truth. i can be surrounded by hundreds and still feel alone in survivorship sometimes. and that’s because the healing is slow. and isn’t linear. each day is different and some are messier than others. but right now, it’s a mess. i am this girl, who has been through so much, with a body that has been altered and chiseled at. and it’s unfinished and it doesn’t look the way it should feel. it doesn’t match victory. it reminds me that this still isn’t over. that two years of my life has gone by, fighting for my existence. and what is meant for me will not pass me. right? tell me if that’s not true so i can take the scotch tape off of it hanging above my desk. so what’s meant for me then? that’s my new universe question. and i know how crazy i probably sound; acting like the universe and i are real people out here, having a chat. but it’s true. it feels like what’s meant for me actually does keep whizzing right past. and maybe what’s meant for me is different than what i think is meant for me. it’s very possible that the universe didn’t get my memo. but regardless, lately things have been feeling a little enormous. the irony of that sentence. and last night as i was waiting in my front yard barefoot for an ambulance for my mother, i looked up and just shouted “are you fucking kidding me?” to literally no one but also literally everyone. because it’s feeling like the walls are kinda caving in. like everything that’s happening is just one boulder down the hill after another. and at the same time, there’s a voice there whispering “whatever is meant for you, will not pass you”. and i keep throwing my hands up. kinda like one of my favorite emojis. like hellooooo, is anyone there? that shit literally keeps passing me. are you subtly suggesting that it will make a u turn at some point? because that sounds great but, when?

patience. i know, i know. heard ya the first eighty five times you said it. but this ain’t it. it really isn’t. life after a major medical crisis is supposed to be down time. it’s supposed to bring me fresh air and room to breathe. enough space for me to grow through what i have been through. it isn’t supposed to rain here. it isn’t supposed to be dark here. it isn’t supposed to be filled with more pain and anger and heartache. it’s supposed to be sunny here. where healing can happen; without anything halting it or altering it. and my world kinda tilted a little more this week. the angles the universe tried were not my favorite. i was spun in this new direction. with more doctor appointments and new medications. a new series of what ifs. another diagnosis to tackle and make sense of. another thing that cancer leaves in its path of destruction. and of course the sun pokes through the clouds every once in awhile. and there are calm moments. but they get swept down the storm drain. and right now, i am waiting for whatever is meant for me. alright, yeah, probably not as patiently as i should be but i also feel like whatever is meant for me, should be here by now. i have been doing the hard things. it’s been hard for a long time and i feel like it’s supposed to be my turn. for a break in the action. for a moment to heal. for some brain space away from medical trauma and the pain it causes. but it appears that the universe has other plans. and i know deep down that right now, the universe is asking me to wait. to hang in there. and that everything that has happened and continues to happen is part of some greater plan. and at this point, there really isn’t anything i haven’t been through. and life continues to chuck lemons at me- sometimes when i am looking and sometimes they just blindly whack me in the head. and while the whole making lemonade thing is cool and all; sometimes ya girl wants something else to drink. but i know, i know- life. lemonade. keep doing it. whatever is meant for me, will not pass me. lemme tell ya- it better not pass me. i will chase after it. but at this moment, my fuel tank is a little low. from all the nonsense that the universe keeps dishing out. and every day i keep reminding myself to take today as it comes. to take the lemons one slice at a time. whatever is meant for me, it has passed me. many times. but it’ll come back around. and i will be ready for it when the universe allows.

whatever is meant for me will not pass me. because what is meant for me right now, is here right now. and even though it’s yet another medical mountain in the midst of a pandemic, it’s meant for me. and everything else that was meant for me, has prepared me to climb it like it’s everest.

let’s do this. xo.