I haven’t written as much about post-cancer life and survivorship. And it’s not because I don’t have anything to write about. It’s the exact opposite actually. I have a lot of life to write about. But it’s not as concrete as cancer life. It’s not as prescribed and literal as going through treatment. Post-cancer life is the unpeeling of the trauma while new trauma is occurring. It’s the reckoning of how much of a toll chemo and cancer has taken on your body and soul while realizing that it will continue to still steal moments from you. It’s not visible…


“Rachel. This is Dr. Walling. I couldn’t wait to tell you this news. Your pathology came back. There is no evidence of disease. You are cancer free.”

I remember the scream that came from my mother. I imagine it was the sound of 9 months of being a mother to a cancerous daughter escaping. The stress, worry, and feelings I didn’t allow her to have rushing out of her. My dad. My big teddy bear of a dad. He broke into silent weeping. He thanked God.

I think I just sat there. I don’t think I really understood it. I…


I’ve tried to put pen to paper for many days. Each piece I begin feels unimportant, mundane, repetitive. I don’t know how to fit my voice into the current narrative. I don’t know what is helpful to say…what is just my own story and what is helpful to others. But the nagging feeling won’t go away. That I do have something to add. That my experience from a year long quarantine of sorts makes me a pseudo expert on staying in one place without losing your shit. Or maybe that’s the crux of it all. …


365 Days.

365 days ago, my life changed. 365 days ago, a radiologist called me to report samples of my breast tissue and lymph nodes had come back malignant. 365 days ago, I added the label of ‘cancer patient’ to my name.

I don’t know how to feel about this year anniversary, and maybe that’s why I’m struggling? I can’t attach a word or descriptor to what emotion(s) I’m feeling. I can’t justify or rationalize or compartmentalize.

The way I look and feel on February 12, 2020 is very much the same yet very much different from February 12, 2019…


One of my favorite books is Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari. It’s this beautiful amalgamation of humor and sociological insight about the modern dating world. The cliff notes version: dating apps ruined modern romance. But one of my favorite chapters talks about the millennial generation as maximizers. We want to get the best out of life all the time. The best food. The best job. The best partner. The best kale chips (seriously…I’m still searching for the secret to making the best kale chips.) The point is, we want the most out of life. The assumption is that when we’re…


I’ve been silent for a long while now. And I think the general assumption when silence happens after something traumatic is that life has resumed normalcy and the afflicted person has healed. They no longer have wounds to write about or lessons to lend to their audience. In my case, and I think in a lot of cases, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Breast Kept Secret #17: Life After Cancer is Harder Than Life With Cancer

Yes. I said it. It’s bold. But it’s true. Life is really fucking hard right now. And it’s for a lot of complicated, strange, personal, ugly reasons. But most of all it’s because I’m just…


6:30 AM. I am fully robed. Sitting on the cold, wet sand looking out over a foggy Elk Lake. I am sitting next to Whitney. Her arm is draped over me under a heavy quilt. We take one last look at the gray sky and muted colors of the lake. We stand up. I remove my layers of a sweatshirt and t-shirt.

I stand in public, albeit no one is here, topless. I stand baring half of me. I’m like a centaur. Half woman. Half…undefined? I have this thought as I bare it all. I don’t have breasts. I don’t…


Breast Kept Secret #16: Your Body After Cancer is Perfectly Imperfect

I’ve battled many things in my life, as we all have. After all, what would life be without a few uphill fights? One of these battles is not at all uncommon for the female athlete: disordered eating. I ran a lot of miles on minimal calories and suffered injury after injury, denying to myself that my unhealthy eating habits were in any way connected to my cycle of injuries. The below photo was probably me at my worst. I think I weighed in at 100 pounds.

It’s been a few years. I’ve dealt with my demons. But as many people…


I think I need a Breast Kept Secrets Part Two: The After. You see, something amazing happened. I no longer have cancer. Or as my oncologist says, “There is no evidence of cancer in my pathology.” Basically, I had my mastectomy and my lymph nodes stripped from my left armpit. They ran them through microscopes (Ok, I don’t actually know how they look at the tissue) and found no cancer cells. It’s a big win. But my story is not over. The Breast Kept Secrets saga will continue. Because I’m still going through it. I’m still in the trenches. And…


I’ve had a draft of this blog typed out. The writing of it included a few glasses of wine and many spoonfuls of Justin’s vanilla almond butter. I couldn’t bring myself to publish it, though. I kept thinking that people who employ me, my parents, my parents’ friends, etc. will see this. But I can’t stop being honest or personal now. I can’t filter myself starting now. I vowed to write everything about this journey, no matter how ugly or inappropriate it gets. So, I’m pressing publish on it. Because some scared, newly diagnosed woman out there needs to see…

Rachel Peterson

Navigating breast cancer at 28 through humor + napping

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