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.”

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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 →

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 →

photoI always had difficulty asking for what I wanted or needed. I never wanted to be a bother, or cause anyone any trouble. Even when asked if I wanted something, or if someone could do something for me, it wouldn’t be unusual for me to demurely decline, stating, “Oh no, that’s okay”, even if deep down I really wanted to say yes.

I also often held back when I received something I didn’t like, whether it was a disappointing dish in a restaurant or an unflattering hairstyle. I can’t count how many times I quietly paid for something with which I wasn’t satisfied, only to then turn around and seek it elsewhere, hoping for better results. Read More →

portSo I’ve had my port-o-cath for a little over a year now. It’s literally a part of me. This little medical devise was implanted under my skin last spring to enable my medical team to obtain easier access to my veins for purposes of administering chemotherapy. The catheter connects the port to a large vein in my neck. And under the skin, the port has a bubble through which drugs can be injected and blood samples can be drawn with less discomfort than repeated needle sticks. That’s the purpose of getting a port; and by and large, this was true in my case. The port saved me (and my poor infusion nurses) a lot of angst. But oh how I fought getting it. Read More →

1fav_M3_0009I don’t know what it feels like to have a child and not have the dark cloud of cancer hanging over my head. I was diagnosed with Stage 3C widespread gynecologic cancer when my daughter was just five days old. So, despite my best efforts to live each day in the moment, there’s almost always this niggling little voice in the back of my head reminding me, “you might not be here when that happens.”

I’ve tried to document things much more than I might have otherwise. That’s frankly one of the main reasons I did the CafeMom Studios documentary series, “It’s Cancer, Baby.” It’s also part of the reason I blog and write. I want my daughter to know me, even if I’m not around. And I don’t just want her to know about me. I want her to know about her as well, and how she was as a little girl. I love hearing my parents tell stories of how I was as a child. (Don’t we all?) So I decided to start writing periodic letters to my daughter at particular times in her life. Here’s the first one … Read More →

late_bloomer_flowerI’ve always been a late bloomer. I sucked my thumb until age five. I played with Barbie dolls until junior high (which, in case you don’t know, is way longer than most girls). I was one of the last of my friends to get her period. In fact, I lied for more than a year about having gotten it, I was so embarrassed. I was out of high school before I got boobs.

I didn’t have a boyfriend until I was a senior, and was pretty sexually inexperienced going into college (I made up for it later). And speaking of college, I left after the first semester of my freshman year because I was homesick. Homesick. I later went back, but opted to go part-time while working and living at home.

I was a mama’s girl for sure. Read More →