June 11, 2018

Last week I wrote about the 18 months when I was in a deep depression, as I went through treatment for aggressive breast cancer, as well as a heart-wrenching breakup. I feel grateful that I’m here a decade later, no longer contending with the demon that tortured me for so long.  And I’m also acutely aware of how many people are currently struggling in that deep, dark, disorienting place we call depression. Maybe as you read this, that’s you.  Maybe… Read more

June 9, 2018

There’s an island called Depression.  It’s so dark, only the people who live there can really see its outline and feel its weight and breathe its soul-crushing air.  D has its own time zone, where day is night and night is night and the sun doesn’t ever shine and the darkness doesn’t ever lift, even for a second, so you can catch a glimpse of sun. No one — no one — chooses to go to D.  But sometimes D… Read more

June 3, 2018

When I found out I’d be traveling to Costa Rica to speak at a conference, I Googled “conversational Spanish” to brush up on a few simple phrases that might come in handy – especially because I’d be traveling by myself, without a translator to intervene if I needed help communicating. The first search result was a link to a page that said travelers needed to learn the following phrases: ¿Qué superpoder quieres? (What superpower do you want?) ¿Cuál es tu sitio… Read more

June 1, 2018

For the next five days I’m speaking at a seminary outside of San Jose, Costa Rica, where people ages 18-35 from around the world are gathering to talk about how we can work together to make a difference in the world. Yesterday I met people from Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, South Africa, Malaysia, the Philippines and the U.K. At lunch, I sat next to a 24-year-old named Hector who is fromHonduras.  As we were eating, he told me he was… Read more

May 28, 2018

On Saturday afternoon in Paris, 22-year-old Mamoudou Gassama, a refugee from Mali, was on his way to watch a soccer game at a pub when he noticed a crowd pointing and yelling. He looked up to see a small child dangling from a balcony four stories up. What happened next has people from around the world calling Mamoudou a “real-life Spiderman.” He was able to climb onto a door, and then jump up to grasp the railing on a first-story… Read more

May 24, 2018

Last week I wrote about the one-word piece of medical advice my doctor gave me that was life-changing.  On my discharge instructions he wrote, “Smile.” (You can read the whole piece here.  But in short, I’m going through a process to figure out why I’ve had insomnia for more than a decade.  In the meantime, waking up in the middle of the night was giving me anxiety that I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep, or that sleep deprivation would… Read more

May 23, 2018

The weather in San Francisco abruptly changed two days ago.  It went from being sunny and in the 70’s to non-stop mist, wind and London-worthy fog.  Yesterday afternoon I walked to my favorite cafe to read a book, and instead of walking back home, I took the bus, because the wind gusts were so strong they almost blew me over. This morning, the mist was still falling.  The fog hung so low that the usual landmarks I can see from… Read more

May 21, 2018

On Saturday morning as I was putting on scrubs and clogs and pulling my hair up in a ponytail, preparing for another long shift at the urgent care where I practice medicine part-time,  I watched clips of the royal wedding.  The ceremony had already taken place, since the U.K. is nine hours ahead of California. I teared up at Prince Harry and Meghan’s irrepressible smiles and loving glances and palpable joy.  The carriage, the tiara, the hand-picked bouquet, the spring… Read more

May 16, 2018

Somehow my cancer treatments affected my ability to fall — and stay — asleep.  So I haven’t slept through the night in more than a decade. I’ve tried everything — Ambien, Valerian root tea, melatonin, meditation — but nothing has helped.   So I’ve just lived with it.  Lived with anxiety at bedtime, wondering how much sleep I’ll be able to get before it’s time to get up in the morning.  Lived with fatigue that caffeine barely lifts.  Lived with… Read more

May 15, 2018

I spent the weekend speaking at the Bent Not Broken conference, a gathering of cancer patients and their loved ones that was held at a Franciscan retreat center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As I looked across the audience, I saw bald heads, scarred bodies, sallow shades of skin.  I saw lots of smiles, and lots of tears.  Throughout the weekend, I saw flashes of hope as well as fleeting glimpses of despair.  I heard voices quiver with fear and anger… Read more

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