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I got a cancer diagnosis . . . here's my story

Updated: Oct 16

If you've been following me for a while, you may have noticed I’ve been a hermit. And now I'm ready to share why. Well, I don’t know if I’m totally ready but I can’t escape this gnawing feeling that I need to come out with it. To you. I’m going to share with you pieces of my life that I never have before. My hands might be a little shaky. Tears may surface. But I’m going to find the courage to tell you the whole story (granted an abbreviated one for the sake of this being an email and not a novel).

You see last summer my whole world unraveled . . . It came in three gut-wrenching blows.

The first blow came when my publisher decided not to offer another book deal. I. Was. Devastated. I’d worked so hard over the past eight years to get to where I was, and it felt like it was all being taken away from me. It was like being back to square one, and I wasn’t sure if I could make the climb a second time. My book release in July 2022 fell totally flat. And for the first time ever, I seriously wanted to give up writing.

The second blow came at the end of July when I learned I had been suffering with ADHD my entire life. I was thirty-seven years old. How did I not know this? I know I’m not alone in this. And for most, it’s not a big deal. But for me, it was earth-shattering.

First, I was relieved. My whole life suddenly made sense. All of it—how I feel, how I think, how I operate in the world, my quirky habits, and of course, the mask I’d been hiding behind. For decades, I didn’t know that’s what I’d been doing. I just wanted to fit in. To be valuable, productive, smart, and worthwhile. So when I learned I’d been hiding parts of myself from everyone, including myself, it threw me into a full-on crisis because I wasn’t sure who I was anymore. And I felt so sad because I needed support for so long and no one knew.

The cracks in my life were growing bigger and bigger and then it all came crumbling down with the third and final blow. On August 24th, I got the call from the doctor’s office that a biopsy I’d done came back positive. Breast cancer . . .

My first reaction—you gotta be fucking kidding me? I cannot deal with cancer right now.

My career is falling apart and I have ADHD! This is so inconvenient.

My second reaction—what have I been doing? Why have I been begrudging my life so much? Why am I always down on myself? Life is so precious. We only have so much time.

My third reaction—I’m scared. I don’t know what this means. I don’t want to be sick. I don’t want to die.

The thing is . . . I knew this would happen. I’ve known it since my brother died of cancer when we were kids. That’s why I tried to be so healthy—eat well, sleep enough, take vitamins, stay hydrated—but it didn’t matter. It was coming for me.

An hour and a half later, I was in one of my happy-places, chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo with friends at my local Buddhist center. As I chanted with a cluster of emotions swirling in my belly, I had a strong feeling break through. A knowing.

I’m going to be okay.

This is for my growth.

This is for my greatest human revolution yet.

The thing was I had no idea how I was going to do it. But I had faith that I would figure it out. I had to. This was my life or death moment.

Because of my brother's death, I thought a lot about this. I got really into wellness in my early twenties as a way to counteract the possibility of something similar occurring with me. I seriously considered going to Naturopathic medical school because I found it all so fascinating. I’d even read books about amino acids. Amino-freaking-acids!

The point is that I’d learned enough to know that the body could heal given the right environment. I made the decision back then that if I ever faced a cancer diagnosis later in life, I would forgo conventional treatment. And I stood by it. The only problem was I had no damn clue how I was going to heal. So I went on the internet . . .

Here’s a little tip I picked up: if you’re ever diagnosed with a chronic illness, don’t. Go. On. The. Internet. You. Will. Regret. It.

At least, I did. Because everything I could find seemed to lead to the same outcome—you will lose your breasts. And you will lose your life.

And that was a hard pill to swallow. I fell into a very, very, VERY dark place. It didn’t help that my family was pushing for conventional treatment—to get it out so I could have a fighting chance and beat this thing. I’d had a benign lump surgically removed from the same spot nearly 20 years ago. So why not do it again?

I didn’t know why. All I knew was that every fiber of my being told me not to. I had this deep knowing that cancer isn’t something to battle. It wasn’t a foreign invader. Not my enemy. As scary as it was, the tumor was me. Pieces of me that collected and encapsulated in order to tell me something. I knew if I shut it up with surgery and radiation, it would just come back. Likely worse. I knew there was a way through for me. And conventional medicine wasn’t it.

I want to pause here for a moment and say that I acknowledge this is a sensitive subject for many. I know very few people who have not been affected by cancer. And even fewer people who are not terrified of it. Through this journey, I’ve learned that there are so many ways to deal with cancer. And everyone has to choose a path that they believe in. A path that gives them hope. Because what we believe is the driving force behind our experience—but that’s a topic for another time. Back to the story.

I had to muster the courage of my life to say no to seasoned doctors and no to my family. When I tell you it was the HARDEST thing I’ve ever done, please believe it was. I had to forge a new path, at least in my world. I had to advocate and care for myself. While I knew it was the right thing, it was lonely as hell.

I told very few people. Partly because I didn’t want any other voices in my head telling me what I should be doing, and partly because I was ashamed. I know, strange things come up when this kind of thing happens. I felt like the diagnosis meant I was bad. Like I did something wrong. And when the few people I did share with embraced me with love and support, the shame was even more palpable because I felt like I didn’t deserve it.

There was something about the whole thing that brought me back to being seven years old—the age I was when my brother died. That’s when I realized the root cause wasn’t physical, it was emotional. And if I wanted to heal, I’d have to tend to those old wounds, those parts of me that were clearly needing love and support, so much so that they sent me a signal—a tumor—so I couldn’t ignore them any longer. They deserved that.

So I picked myself up and decide that I was going to heal on my terms. Even if I had to face a million obstacles along the way. And there were many obstacles and a lot of hours spent on PubMed. But there were also so many protective functions in the universe leading me along the way. Each resource building on the last—from water fasting, energy work, therapy, movement, homeopathy, the ketogenic diet, and experts in the metabolic approach to cancer.

I found a great doctor who runs tests on me monthly and prescribed a treatment based on what’s going on in my body in real time because no matter what the diagnosis, there is no one-size fits all approach because we all have different biology, exposures, histories, and circumstances. She also knows there’s a huge energetic and emotional component to disease and addressing those is a huge part of my protocol. I call her a shaman with a lab coat, and she’s successfully helped me uncover all the physical issues I’ve been dealing with that contributed to the diagnosis.

Facing a cancer diagnosis really makes you confront your life in a new way. It makes you question and reassess everything. I learned very quickly that I had to do something differently. And a big part of that something was my work. Behind the scenes of writing my last novel, I actively ignored a calling to go into the healing arts. As I look back on my adult life, or maybe even my entire life, it was always calling me.

Shortly after the diagnosis, I was given the opportunity to respond to the call again and train as a holistic therapeutic life coach—a modality that helped me through grief, anxiety, self-worth issues and much, much more. And with those protective functions, I was able to join the six month training course a month after my diagnosis. And wow! Not only did I learn a valuable skill that will help many, many others, but I experienced deep emotional healing along the way. So much so that now, I no longer fear cancer. I no longer fear death. Instead, I embrace this amazing life and live it true to myself.

I’m still tending to old wounds but I’ve made tremendous progress. Health wise, I feel better than ever! I sleep better, have more physical and mental energy, feel more peaceful, less stressed, and my labs get better and better every month. I know, I know, you want an update on the tumor right? Well, good news, it’s getting smaller and I have no circulating tumor cells in my blood. So I’m doing great! Healing can take time. And I now truly love and trust my body in all that it does to sustain this wonderfully crazy life of mine.

I’m guessing your next question is, what about the next book? Are you quitting?

No, I’m not giving up writing. After taking time away, I realize that I love it too much. But I am going about it totally differently than before. I’m still working on my next book. A few books TBH. I wish I had some release dates to share but when I do, rest assured, you’ll be the FIRST to know.

Until next time, my wonderful friends, I’m sending you all the love.



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