​©2015 Tracy Maxwell

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October 29, 2019

"Self-compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others."

        —Christopher Germer, The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion

For as long as I can remember, I have woken up in the morning with a persistent cough. It doesn’t usually last long, and I’ve had it for so long that I don’t always even notice anymore, but people around of me often do and ask about it. I have wondered about it too through the years and looked it up many times. Louise Hay and others attribute a persistent cough to “barking at the world for attention.” That part didn’t connect strongly until another piece was added from another source that suggested this also had to do with self-acceptance and compassion. I knew immediately that was it. 

Because many of the other de...

September 22, 2019

Beth and I met at a retreat in February 2019. It took place in an exotic location (there were monkeys in the trees behind the house where we stayed). It was beautiful, peaceful and we could walk to the beach. The leader held space for amazing conversations and provided heart-opening teachings. The food was lovingly prepared from local ingredients, and it was both yummy and healthy (and unique too). We engaged with the local culture and people, and participated in fun activities each day. We had the opportunity to pamper ourselves in the way that most resonated with us from spa treatments, to pool time, to reading in a hammock, to connecting with fellow retreat participants, to alone time. All of our needs were taken care of so we could focus solely on what felt good to us. 

Beth and I were...

September 4, 2019

Have you ever heard that quote about jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down? I seem to live that one quite a bit in my life. At least three times in my career I have left jobs (with several-months-notice to my employers) with absolutely no idea what I was going to do next. In each case, it felt to me like a natural ending, and I was aware that it was time to move on. I just didn’t know to what. Each time it turned out okay. Better than okay, actually, as I ended up in new cities or with exciting new vocational adventures to pursue. 
 
As I approach my fiftieth year, I’m being prodded to leap again into the unknown. The prodding began back in January when I made the decision to give notice to the board of the non-profit I founded in 2007. I ran it for six years from m...

August 9, 2019

When I consume too much news it is difficult to convince myself that we’re not at the beginning (perhaps in the middle) of the apocalypse. In a week that saw two mass shootings in the United States that killed 31 people in less than 24 hours, I also heard that multiple countries are on the verge of not having enough water for their own citizens, and that big tech is collaborating with big pharma to manipulate online search algorithms in order to suppress free speech and limit what we can find about health alternatives. 1984 anyone? 

It is can be super stressful, anxiety-producing and downright depressing be exposed to too much media, and for that reason, I have limited mine severely to only NPR when I’m in the car, a few select podcasts and daily email news bulletins, and what intrigues me...

October 11, 2018

Sorry to leave my community hanging for so long following my last post in May. It turns out the uncertainty I was feeling back then was well-founded as the summer turned out to be more challenging than I could have imagined. So much so that I did very little for nearly three months of recovery following a much more extensive surgery than I’ve ever had before. My scan in May showed that the seven tumors in my abdomen had grown significantly and melded into four large masses. That prompted me to visit my gynecological oncologist and schedule surgery to remove them in mid-July. 

Four previous surgeries have been mostly laparoscopic and outpatient (with only one exception), and this one was expected to be no different. I began experiencing more discomfort in the three months prior to surgery, a...

May 23, 2018

I have written many cancerversary blogs over the past twelve years since I was diagnosed, and sometimes I feel as if I’ve processed everything there is to process about my cancer experience and said all there is to say, but of course that’s not true because we are never really done with cancer. For some it’s because of a terminal diagnosis, for others (like me) because our cancer keeps coming back, and for others the emotional scars remain even if the physical ones have healed. There are always reminders of what we have lost, or on-going issues that we have to deal with. 

This cancerversary, my thoughts aren’t very organized, and I’m not quite sure how I feel. In the past I have felt celebratory, triumphant, hopeful and sometimes fearful, alone or frustrated. Today, I am feeling doubtful. N...

March 27, 2018

How do you feel when someone you are attracted to gives you attention? Do your feelings depend upon whether you (or they) are single? Whether you are on the street, in the office or at a party? Do they depend upon what kind of attention is given – a look of admiration, a smile, a wink, a catcall?
 
Ok, how about another example. What happens inside you when someone gushes in front of others about how great you are? Are you flattered, uncomfortable, touched? How do you respond? Do you demur, letting the group know you’re not really all that? Do you accept the acknowledgement uncomfortably and change the subject as soon as possible?
 
It’s the rare person that can receive, really RECEIVE, all the attention, acknowledgement, gratitude, praise, admiration, and even love and affection that come...

February 28, 2018

My friend wrote recently about practices that are not luxuries, but necessities. I appreciated her approach to thinking about things that we sometimes treat as nice to have when really they are mandatory for our health and well-being. I really resonated with the example she shared about giving herself time to re-charge between busyness, travel and big projects in life. I definitely need that too, and when I don’t give it to myself, I tend to get sick. My body finds a way to make me rest when I don’t make that a priority.
 
Another practice that has become absolutely mandatory for me is mindfulness. That term can encompass a number of different things, but it really means taking time every day for just being present.
 
Mindfulness can be as simple as being totally focused on whatever you ar...

January 17, 2018

Nearly universally people seem to be thrilled that 2017 has come to an end, and eager to begin a new year. Perhaps that is always the case, but it seems especially potent this year. Massive changes are taking place in the world, and though it seems chaotic at times, it sometimes takes a bit of chaos to create something beautiful. I think about the butterfly emerging from the cocoon. It's not a pretty or an easy process, and it must feel like a tragedy for the caterpillar when it all begins, but what emerges at the end is spectacular. 

Our planet and its people are going through a similar process at the moment. The past year exemplified the messy, struggling stage - the metamorphosis that is beginning. Watching all the powerful people brought down by the #MeToo movement, witnessing the mas...

August 30, 2017

It’s time for me to come clean about something. I have known for a long time that I would have to do it eventually, and nearly nine months after I made this major choice the time has come.

But first a little history. I was originally diagnosed with stage IIC granulosa cell ovarian cancer in the summer of 2006. After two surgeries and six rounds of chemo that summer and fall, I was declared NED (no evidence of disease). That lasted for four years, and ever since cancer has been something I have “dealt with” approximately every four years.

Between my original diagnosis and my first recurrence, I did a ton of reading and research, and I knew that if the cancer came back, I wasn’t going to take a conventional approach again. There are countless alternative, complementary and integrative approach...

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