25 February 2018

Meet Katie, world changer

When Katie Strumpf was diagnosed with leukemia, there were no online resources or publications to offer guidance to a 10-year-old kid dealing with cancer. She endured chemo, spinal taps, and bone marrow aspirations.

While still going through treatment, Katie told her mom that someday she would write a book for children with cancer, offering encouragement and practical advice from someone who’s put up with doctors and medications and hair loss.


Katie Strumpf-Rackley


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18 February 2018

4 ways to edit your story

There’s a chapter in Gary’s and my story, titled “The Wilderness Years,” that lasted for more than a decade. A windswept, barren, bleak, heart-throbbing trek through financial reversals, and a live-in parent sinking into dementia, and a terminal cancer diagnosis, and the death of a most beloved husband, friend, life partner.

Most of us would edit some chapters of our stories if we could.


Photo by Andrew Measham on Unsplash


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21 January 2018

Lessons from a turtle release

Someone handed a baby turtle in a small container to me. “Give him a name,” she said. And of course what popped into my head was ‘Gary.’ As in, my husband.


Photo: Campamento Tortugueros Sayulita


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31 December 2017

Define your purpose; live your reason

Three years ago—back when I was newly widowed, resigning my job, and paring down to move out of state—a bracelet arrived in the mail from one of my beautiful sisters-in-law. The charm dangling from it read: “Embrace the journey.”


Photo by Fineas Anton on Unsplash


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27 August 2017

What does ‘living well’ mean?

At a one-day writers’ conference last spring, I had a 15-minute meeting with a literary agent. She asked me to tell her about my book proposal, and then provided excellent feedback from someone inside the publishing industry.

“I like a phrase you used: ‘How to live well through adversity.’ What do you mean by living well?” she asked.


Photo: Unsplash


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2 August 2017

Letters tied together with love

My friend (and jewelry designer) Jim Dailing shot this updated Renew | Repurpose photo with a beautiful renovated barn hiding behind the pink blossoms. (Thank you, Jim … I love it!)


Photo credit: Jim Dailing


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30 July 2017

Friday date: Battling anxiety

Long-time readers know I’ve blogged about brave-making campaigns and about keeping Friday date night — a weekly tradition established before my husband, Gary, died of cancer.

But this is my first blog about a brave-making Friday date.



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23 July 2017

Discovering new purpose in loss

Cancer Adventures has expanded beyond cancer—new name: Renew | Repurpose—with a mission of helping people discover fresh purpose in seasons of loss.

The concept of repurposing catches my imagination. It’s the idea of adapting something for a purpose other than its original intent — a purpose that can be just as valuable, and effective, and gorgeous.

Like this barn. Once a habitat for animals and hay, and maybe even varmints. And now a beautiful house.


Not my house


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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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