controlI was doing some holiday shopping with a close friend this past December, and ended up picking up an item I thought would look nice in our home … a sort of stuffed patchwork elephant comprised of imported fabrics. I carried that elephant with me all around the store as I shopped for gifts for others, debating as to whether or not I should purchase it. Ultimately, I put back the elephant before cashing out, thinking, “focus, Joanna; you’re not here to shop for yourself.” And I really didn’t give it a thought beyond that. Read More →


In the fall of 2002, the great Warren Zevon made his final appearance on The David Letterman Show before dying of malignant mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of lung cancer.

When asked by Letterman if his terminal diagnosis had changed anything about the way he looked at life and death, Zevon replied, “How much you’re supposed to enjoy every sandwich.”

Read More →

IMG_7196I haven’t posted any status updates since leaving the hospital a week ago, mostly because I’ve spent the week surrounded by my wonderful family, in my own home, and it has been extraordinary. But I also haven’t posted any updates because so much is currently in flux; and there are so many tests and puzzles and pieces and parts and questions right now that to state anything prematurely would likely do little more than create less rather than more clarity. Read More →

IMG_7505Some of you may of you be familiar with the game K-F-M (, where one is given three hypothetical options and has to pick who among them they’d, respectively, kill, f*ck, and marry. Well, I have a new one that I feel I should share because it’s such a fun and easy way to practice gratitude. I privately call it The Anne Lamott Check-in, because it incorporates her theory that there are only three necessary prayers: Thanks, Help, and Wow. Read More →

10476051_10152284289704220_8753406812125174823_oI recently had the pleasure of helping produce a live staged reading of women survivors talking about their second acts. The production closed out last month’s Second Annual National Women’s Survivors Convention in Nashville. Along with a dozen other women, I talked about how I am using the second chance I’ve been given. A video of my story can be found here, and a link to all of the survivor videos can be found here. It was an incredibly rewarding experience and I was honored to have been in the company of so many strong, brave women!

LTYM1I wrote recently about having auditioned to participate in Nashville’s first production of Listen To Your Mother, a live staged reading of essays written by real people about motherhood. The event took place on April 26, 2014, and was by all accounts a tremendous success. Similar productions were held in 31 other cities around the same time, and it was a unique and wonderful experience to be part of such a magical, powerful movement … the brainchild of LTYM founder Ann Imig. Read More →

2014-01-25-comparison-thumbTeddy Roosevelt is quoted as saying “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I’ve found this to be particularly true in the area of my own personal journey with cancer. I learned the hard way that comparing my disease to someone else’s not only steals my joy, it has the potential to chip away at my resolve. It can keep me awake at night, in a vortex of fearful speculation of my own making.

A little over two years ago, I was diagnosed with Stage IIIC fallopian tube cancer; and I’ve been managing my cancer and the subsequent side effects of treatment pretty much continuously ever since. In that time, I’ve learned that staying present and keeping a strong mental attitude are essential to my well being. Having recently been told that my cancer is of the recurrent sort, maintaining this mindset is now more important than ever. Read More →

2013-09-07-photoBefore my surgery, I spoke openly about my decision to undergo a prophylactic bi-lateral mastectomy in the wake of a BRCA-1 diagnosis. I’m now about six weeks post-surgery, the (proud?) owner of two brand spanking new “foobs” (fake boobs), and I’ve had some time to process the new additions.

First, I believe there’s a huge misconception among the general populous about what it means to have one’s breasts removed and replaced with artificial ones (if they are replaced at all). When speaking about my upcoming surgery, I had many well-meaning people say things like, “Well at least you get new boobs!” and, “Your husband must be so excited… has he picked ’em out yet?”

Yeah, well, it’s not quite like that. Not at all, in fact. Read More →

2013-07-14-babylipsWhat do I have in common with Angelina Jolie (besides oversized lips that are apparent even in our baby photos)?

We’re both moms.

We both discovered through DNA testing that we carry the BRCA1 genetic mutation.

We were both told we have an 87 percent chance of contracting breast cancer in our respective lifetimes.

We both opted for a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy to dramatically reduce our risks.

And we have both been criticized for our decisions. Read More →