Tristin Roney

This picture from Tennyson’s birthday perfectly captures how I feel about my family. In the early days after being diagnosed, I found myself contemplating death quite a bit. As frightening as the thought was, I couldn’t ignore that death might be calling to me and there is nothing I can do about it.

I was in the middle of one of these dark ponderings during a failed attempt at a nap when my thoughts drifted to Tennyson. I imagined him growing up without me and what that would be like for him. I thought of all the milestones and moments I would miss out on, and the darkness in my mind was growing even darker.

But in that moment, when self-pity was about to consume me, something profound happened: I decided that I want to live. It might seem like an obvious conclusion to reach, but it was a conclusion that I had to come to consciously. It was much deeper than a simple desire to survive. It was an empowering decision to take on this experience as an active and willful participant rather than a helpless passenger. It was a will to live surging from my core. It was a spiritual experience.

That moment marked the beginning of a shift away from relying on the confidence and faith of others toward becoming more self-reliant in the mental-emotional-spiritual aspect of my journey. Looking back, I don’t know how or if I would have made such a breakthrough without having this great kid in my life. I genuinely believe that the decision I made in that moment–to choose life–is the reason that I will beat cancer, and it is all thanks to his existence and my love for him. And for that reason he really is a superhero. Must be from his mom’s genes.

I came home from Dallas to these extraordinarily thoughtful gifts from some very generous friends. I already feel an obligation to spend the rest of my life paying forward the kindness I have received, but it keeps piling on far too quickly for me to keep up.
In addition to physical gifts, I have been so fortunate to have a number of people share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences with me. People from all corners of my life have reached out to me in gestures of compassion, vulnerability, and lovingkindness. They’ve taken real risks by sharing aspects of their life that are heartbreaking and often difficult to understand from the outside. And as a result of their bravery we’ve had incredible moments of connection and mutual understanding of our shared human experience.
When I first posted about my cancer diagnosis on Facebook my goal was to be honest and open about what I was going through, because I didn’t want shame and secrecy to make the experience even more harrowing. I was blown away by how quickly and how powerfully people responded with comments, private messages, texts, phone calls, packages, visits, etc. People who are facing challenges that would bring me to my knees are able to see beyond their own worlds and find a place for me in their hearts. The unanimous message has been one of love, encouragement, and solidarity. I feel as if my inner circle has expanded tenfold and I consider it the highest honor to be given even a moment of your time.

Thank you all so much for giving to me. I’ll never be able to say or do enough to show how much it has meant to me. I am inspired and I know that the rest of my life will be spent building on the moments I have shared with each of you in the last few months. But most of all I hope that these moments never stop.

Time won’t allow me to personally reach out to everyone that will read this, but I want to make it clear that I welcome and look forward to your messages and calls. Even if all you want to do is talk about the struggles you’ve had, I want to hear it. Our struggles are the bridges that help us find common ground, as long as we take advantage of them by opening our inner worlds to others. Here’s

Round 2 of chemo, rocking my new #skullcandy headphones from the awesome @autumnhindman. Preparing for the next dip on the world’s most slow-motion roller coaster.
I’ve been told my positive attitude while going through cancer is unique. While I think most people just don’t know enough cancer survivors, I do have a secret that enables me to keep things in perspective: there is a mystery spot on my lung.
The spot is too close to my heart to risk doing a biopsy, too close to my heart to get a definitive image of what it is. So it remains a mystery and a constant reminder that nothing can be taken for granted. I’m one aggressive lung tumor away from incurable cancer, and living in this uncertainty enables me to live more authentically.
Regardless of your beliefs about what happens after death, there is no denying the preciousness of what we have right now while we breathe. All guarantees of our ability to act on our own behalf are off the table when our breath becomes air. My inability to ignore my mortality drives me to inhale life deeply, to suck the beauty and the meaning from each experience, to ride the intensity of life with both hands in the air.
So in short, my secret is Death. I don’t know when she’ll pull my card from her deck, but I know there are a few extra cards in there with my face on them. This knowledge powers my efforts to live a beautiful life while I still have a choice.
Question: What is the most beautiful, but simple, thing in your life that you would recommend I try or pay more attention to? Thanks in advance for your advice.
PS- Pardon the nip slip.

Love… is a cold and broken hallelujah. I’ve always loved Leonard Cohen’s poetry in this song, which originally had 80 verses and currently has even more interpretations. Recently I’ve come to hear my own interpretation, which is that the divine is found in the darkest and loneliest of places. When we find ourselves face down on the rock bottom of life, when our only companion seems to be shame, we are suddenly open to the beautiful, raw truth of our holiness. Even the last stone piled upon our shattered bodies cannot suppress the whispered hallelujah that glorifies the divinity of this moment, this existence, this being. ⠀

As I anticipate my next chemotherapy treatment in a couple of days, bringing with it an infusion of poison that will break my body even as it saves my life, I recognize this experience as my hallelujah–my acknowledgment of the sacredness of this journey through the dark valley of cancer. Not because of where it came from, and not because of where it might lead me, but because of where it has placed me in this moment. In the midst of discomfort and fear I find a love that cannot be replicated through triumph, ecstasy, or joyous proclamation. Call it God, call it satori, call it neuronal friction, call it whatever makes sense to you. To me it is the pinnacle of sentient existence and it is what makes this life worth living. ⠀

I continue to be flooded with feelings of gratitude every day. I never could have guessed getting cancer would make me feel so lucky and so privileged. Bring on the poison, my cup is ready to be filled. Hallelujah.

Tristin Roney

I’m known to blabber on about the importance of connection and community, so I was excited to find out about a place where skills and services can be exchanged without the exchange of money. If you have any amount of any kind of skill to offer then you can find unlimited value in this community. You also get quite a few “credits” just by joining and setting up your account, so check it out. I hope others find it as exciting as I do.

Tristin Roney

Here we go. Round 1 of about 9 I’ll receive over the next 6 months. My mind raced all night.

It has been fascinating to watch the fragile dance between my mind and the world around me, seeking out the balance between acceptance of my reality and exertion of my will to alter my reality. If I lean too far into acceptance I risk falling into fatalism, apathy, and depression. If I lean too far into exertion of will I risk falling into self-delusion, denial, and anxiety. Somewhere in the middle is a sweet spot where reality is respected, but my will still has power to influence outcomes in my favor. Every day I engage in this dance, some days more gracefully than others.

Today I’m grateful for the people who help me dance with a little more grace. And I’m grateful that this dance has helped me become aware that the whole world is dancing with me. Sometimes we go through things that make our dance a little more visible, but we are all dancing. My hope is that we never let each other dance alone. My hope is that we’ll all be willing to let others see us dance, no matter how devoid of grace we might be, and that we’ll allow others to support us when it feels like we can’t dance anymore. We need each other too much to mind our own business.