15 October 2017

8 health benefits from giving

Four years ago, as my husband’s cancer was ramping up, our friend Kattaryna texted from Alaska:Trying to figure out how to bring some Alaska to you and hubby. Any requests?

Gary asked for Baked Alaska, and I requested a live baby moose. We’re both easy to please.


Photo: Marlys Johnson


Apparently something got lost in the translation. Because we found this colorful, hand-crafted, moose-shaped garden ornament planted in a rather large and beautiful fall bouquet on our front porch. (Which, if you can’t have a live moose, is the next best thing.)

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1 October 2017

7 thoughts on ‘team’

My friends, Mac and Allison, invited me to join them this weekend for a game in Autzen Stadium in Eugene, OR. They have a grandson who plays football for the University of Oregon Ducks.

A tight end. Six feet, 5 inches tall. Two-hundred thirty pounds. A little, scrawny guy.


My friends’ grandson, Cameron McCormick (Photo SportsPress)


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24 September 2017

9 advantages of having siblings

I was looking through some photos of my recent, more-fun-than-ought-to-be-allowed road trip, and came across this pic of my big brother and me standing at an observation deck above Snowbird in a gorgeous land called Utah.


Hanging out with big brother above Snowbird


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19 August 2017

4 insights into reticent men and cancer

A friend of mine started dating a man six months after he was diagnosed with cancer. At the start of their relationship, he was open about his health issues. And then cancer showed up stronger, and he walled himself off.


Photo credit: Unsplash


“He won’t let me give him any hands-on care,” my friend said. “And he doesn’t want me to be there emotionally for him.”

The couple split a few months later because the guy wasn’t willing to let my friend into his pain. Which means he turned away an amazing gift of love and support.

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2 July 2017

11 reasons why you should not join a support group

You may have heard how important it is to have supportive, like-minded, understanding people surround you. But support teams come with a high price tag, so you really want to consider the costs before you commit to plugging into community.

Here are 11 excellent reasons not to get involved with any kind of support team:

  1. The people in support groups lack determination.


Part of the St. Charles Cancer Center hiking posse on top of Black Butte


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27 June 2017

Is survival possible in barren places?

While on a recent Middle Eastern adventure, my nieces and I crossed from Israel into Jordan and rode through barren wilderness to Petra, a historical and archaeological city named among the “New 7 Wonders of the World.”


The Treasury (photo: Breanna Canclini)


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20 June 2017

How to live with knowing the future

For a second time, I’m reading When Breath Becomes Air by surgeon and author Paul Kalanithi. At age 36 and on a career path that was spiraling upward, Dr. Kalanithi was rudely interrupted. By a lung cancer diagnosis.


Photo credit: Freeaudiobookguide.com


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23 April 2017

Who are you traveling with?

A number of fellow travelers accompanied me through this week. And I’m pretty sure—based on the therapeutic sheer pleasure of hanging out with them—I’m much healthier than when the week began.

There was the cancer-kicking, wilderness-hiking posse at our season opener: Six gentle miles along the Metolius River.


Photo credit: Mike Gibson


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17 April 2017

Cancer diagnosis: 15 excellent answers to “What next?”

Back when my husband, Gary, and I first heard those epic unbalancing words: “You have cancer,” my thoughts went to, What next? Where do we go from here?


Photo credit: Unsplash


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26 March 2017

43 highly effective self-care tips

Self-care was something I didn’t do well in the final months of my husband’s life. Because I could do it all myself. Because I didn’t want to bother other people. Because self-care sounds rather selfish, self-centered, self-conscious.

But it’s not. Self-care is simply seeing to our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health so we can better care for others.


Photo credit: Unsplash


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About Me

Hello, my name is Marlys Johnson. I’m a cancer widow, author, speaker and blogger. I love getting outdoors; would rather lace up hiking boots than go shopping. I have a passion for repurposing old junk into cool new stuff. And an even greater passion for showing people how to navigate life’s challenges. Tenaciously. And with heart wide open.

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