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On Cancer and the Natural World

On Cancer and the Natural World

Nearly two years ago, at age 39, I received the shock of my life: a diagnosis of breast cancer. In the face of an existential threat, it’s not uncommon for people to radically readjust their lives, to let go of concerns that suddenly seem trivial and pay more care and attention to what really matters. This was certainly my experience. In many ways, I feel like the ordeal of cancer deconstructed my life and my self like a mechanic with a busted engine, and it has taken many months to reassemble the disparate parts of my existence into a working whole.

Along the way, the natural world, as always, has been a profound support. But even my relationship to nature was transformed in this process. At first, that was disorienting, but ultimately it opened me to new layers of self-knowing. Last week, Outside published my reflections on this topic. I have already received many beautiful letters from readers, a number of whom shared their own touching stories of struggle and healing.

Click here to read the story on Outside’s website. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to write—and be published—in this way. I’m grateful to be able to write period, to have a healthy body and mind, and to be alive, here, among the living.