I'm a cancer survivor.

It feels weird to say this. I'm 35, and I'm a cancer survivor. My surgeon called me today to confirm that they found cancer in my thyroid, but that it was contained and removed during surgery last week.

It's such a weird yet sweet feeling of closure. The last 8 months of my life I've been waiting for answers. Even with all the doctor/hospital visits and tests, they couldn't say for certain that I had cancer without surgery and doing further testing. I went into surgery not knowing for sure that this was necessary, even though my doctor said I had a 50/50 chance of having cancer and believed I was high risk. Going through with the procedure was the only way to get definite answers. Today, in a 5-minute phone call, I found out that I had cancer and was also cancer-free. The closure I've been wanting has finally arrived, wrapped up in a neat, little package.


Two weeks ago, I found out I was having surgery. It was scheduled so quickly, I didn't even have time to think. I thought I would have more time to process it and make a decision, but my circumstances didn't allow for extra time. The week before surgery was agonizing. So many emotions bubbled to the surface, and I questioned whether I was making the right choice. Facing surgery was hard and scary. I was terrified to do it but it felt like the only way through. And now that I'm on the other side, I have validation that it was the right choice for me.

Today is the one week mark since surgery. Recovery has been harder than I anticipated. When I woke up in the hospital, I felt like I had been hit by a truck. Everything hurt, and I couldn't swallow or move my body. I stayed in the hospital a few hours longer than expected because I was in so much pain and couldn't move. The physical and emotional pain leading up to and after surgery has been pretty brutal. But as the nurses were prepping me for the OR, I found meaning in my pain.

Every painful thing I experience is an opportunity to have more empathy for others. By now, I've collected my share of painful life experiences: heartbreak, deaths of loved ones, divorce, and starting over in a new city, to name a few. But all of these things have enabled to me truly understand those who have gone through these things, too. And now I can add cancer to my list of experiences.

This experience has brought so much to light. There are so many lessons that have appeared during this time. Some days, I allowed fear to take hold, wondering how I was going to get through this, whether it was the right choice, and more. I had to get comfortable being uncomfortable and live in state of not knowing. It made me realize that we all live in a state of not knowing, but without a wake-up call like cancer, it's easier to pretend life will go the way we plan.

Growing pains are painful.

The lessons that have surfaced for me during this time are not new, but I was tested in a major way. It felt like the final initiation into the next phase of my life.

My lessons from this chapter:

  • Trust the process!! Even when I felt like I was moving through life blindly, scared of the unknown, I ended up exactly where I'm meant to be.
  • Boundaries are vital. This one is incredibly hard for me, and will require so much practice moving forward!
  • Being vulnerable is the only way to truly get your needs met. I resisted this one as long as I could, but I needed so much help after surgery. I'm used to being independent but had to rely on family and friends to take care of me and Kjell. Allowing myself to receive felt uncomfortable at first, but so amazing when I was able to relax into it.
  • Trust your inner knowing. If you've read Untamed by Glennon Doyle, you know what I'm talking about! People will always have opinions about what you should do and even how you should feel, but the only one who truly knows what you need is YOU. Even when that voice doesn't seem logical, give it space. Listen to it. Your inner knowing will guide you down the right path, even though it won't conform to the ideals created by mainstream society. If you listen to your own voice, beautiful and incredible things will happen in your life.

I'm relieved to be on the other side of this, and my heart is so full from all the love and support I received from my community during this time. I got to stay at my friend's lovely home during recovery, while being taken care of by family and friends who took turns spending the night, visiting me, bringing & sending food and flowers. I received calls and texts and cards filled with prayers and well wishes. I truly felt held, supported and loved through one of the hardest times of my life. What a beautiful blessing.


The incision on my neck curls upward, like a smiley face carved into my skin. Every time I look at this scar, I'll remember where I came from and where I'm going. It marks the end of a difficult chapter, and the beginning of a new one, waiting to be written.