Going outside your comfort zone: When is it worth the risk?

Good morning, sunshine. I didn’t know how desperately I needed you until I did. Your early morning caresses soothe me. Your midday beams energize me. And your steady presence, day after day—here in Hawaii—rejuvenates my spirit and confirms my impulsive decision to escape Minnesota during one of the grayest, dreariest, and iciest January’s on record.…

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Winter Solstice: Living in the Darkness of Light

Winter arrived early this year. Seven inches of heavy, wet, white fell like a weighted blanket on my November birthday. I typically love the first snowfall of the season, with the transformation from drab brown to feathery white, illuminating the darkness at night. But I wasn’t ready this year. The last big Minnesota snowfall was…

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Why Stress Makes Us Sick

  Well, not all stress makes us sick. Stress can motivate and energize us—it helps us perform better in front of an audience or get psyched for an adventure, like white-water rafting on the Colorado River in chilly November (shout-out to Mike, Eric, and Frederique!) or skydiving from 13,000 feet (“terrifying” and “freeing” says my…

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September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

“What were his symptoms?” was the most frequently asked question after finding out that my four-year-old had leukemia. At first, I was taken aback by the question. Why did it matter? I thought. We were in treatment now, moving on—at laser speed. I had no time to pause, to process the chaotic events leading up…

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Are You Resilient?

How do you know if you are resilient? Are you able to get through an extreme setback or life challenge by facing the situation head on and accepting it as a new reality, coping with the immediate challenge, then getting through and bouncing back stronger and more capable than before? Or, do you tend to…

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I’m a Nurse

I’m a nurse. A cancer nurse. “Isn’t it depressing?” ask the innocent, but brave, conversationalists. The patients don’t ask. They know. They see the compassion in our eyes and feel our warm and caring hand on theirs as we expertly assess, treat, teach them new skills, problem solve, and advocate for them. We listen for…

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Are You a Survivor?

Are you a survivor? Do you know a survivor? We are all survivors of something. Illness is a universal human condition, and most of us have survived some acute or chronic ailment. Or we are a caregiver—surviving together—for someone living with a serious illness such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, liver or lung disease,…

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Having Hope

What does it mean to have hope? To expect something positive, meaningful, and affirming. Is everyday hope different from the hope we feel when faced with serious illness or disability? In the year before my son was diagnosed with leukemia, I did a research study asking thirty-two adult patients with cancer what gave them hope.…

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