Sylvia is an empathy machine. No matter how thick I paint on my brave face, the moment she steps into my little white hospital room, I fall apart. Grief. Sadness. Fear. Those are the pieces of emotional furniture that I move around when I see her.

A few months ago, I was the picture of health: juicing 2 lbs of fresh produce a day, running, doing martial arts, eating organic and living a healthy life style. It never dawned on me that I would be diagnosed with an aggressive cancer.


During the first few days of my treatment, I asked doctors, nurses and anyone who looked like they could shed some light, “I’m so healthy and have no family history of cancer… how is this even a thing? Their answer, “Even babies get cancer”. Nothing like a toddler with Leukemia to instantly put things in perspective.

Sylvia is the social worker that is part of my Swedish Cancer Institute treatment package. Just like all of the specialists, doctors and nurses I see like clockwork, she is excellent at what she does. The treatment she provides is as essential to my healing as the unsettling orange bag of chemotherapy that hangs above my fancy, adjustable bed.

Sylvia can see my struggle. She patiently watches as I grapple with my ego and vanity, wanting to refuse to let her in; to let her see me at my weakest. Resistance is futile. Within minutes, I am a puddle. She assures me that falling to pieces is in fact the most powerful choice I can make in this context. Cancer has taught me many valuable lessons, not the least of which is fighting seems to be the easy thing. It’s surrendering that gives us pause and creates our angst.


From the moment my doctor sat me down with an expression of concern I had never seen on her face before and said, “It looks like cancer”, there was a reflexive split second of sheer terror and my eyes began to fill with tears, but then just as fast, I surrendered to the moment and accepted the news. The fear and the tears evaporated. “So, now what happens?” I asked. Staying firmly planted in the process kept me focused on what I could do; how I could maintain some semblance of power and control over my circumstances as they got hijacked.

It’s natural that all of the wonderful support I’ve been receiving revolves around three key concepts: fighting, staying strong and kicking cancer’s ass. I have great appreciation for this approach, but my intuition led me down a different path: surrender, acceptance and compassion for my tumor. These are the tent poles of my positivism which are energizing and anxiety reducing. My tumor is part of me and I love me–all of me. Even the parts that have run amuck. Instead of fighting, I accept that these aggressive, rogue cells are a natural part of me and I am lovingly ushering them out of my miraculous body where they can no longer harm me. 

Round Two complete copy

My clever husband named my tumor TUG, The Uninvited Guest, which I liked but with one small change: The Unexpected Guest. At every point in this experience, from diagnosis to on-going treatment, I have been surprised that the key concept I teach in my seminars, keeping your power in every context, has been profoundly relevant. Being powerful in a situation where I have little to no control has come as a direct result of surrender and acceptance. I am so grateful to have this unique opportunity to experience first hand how intuition, compassion and acceptance are the O-Negative of coping strategies. They are universally compatible.


  1. Leslie Stout Glennon on May 10, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Beautiful writing, Maura. What insight. I’m sending love and strength and healing good vibes from stinky old L.A. to you, my friend.

  2. Rich Rhodes on May 10, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Good to hear from you and see your beautiful picture. What a wonderful message. You are an inspiration to me and I’m sure many more people.

  3. Emily Austin on May 10, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    You, my dear, are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. ❤️

  4. Shannon on May 10, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    Sending love and Reiki to you as you experience this journey. Your words of love and compassion which exist alongside strength and empowerment have always resonated with me as a survivor of violence, and I’m now inspired by them again with respect to my health and my body. Thank you for sharing and thank you for being you. <3

  5. Kevon Wick on May 10, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    Beautiful, Maura. I’m struggling with an arthritic hip right now which may require a replacement; but we will do yoga together again. Guarantee it. 🙂

  6. Chuck McCollum on May 10, 2016 at 9:35 pm

    As always, a dazzling spirit who leaves me breathless..

  7. Maggie Brown on May 11, 2016 at 6:11 am

    Thank you Maura great insights that enlightened me to the other side of fight. I send healing light and love wrapped in positive energy to you on your journey to wellness.

  8. Tricia on May 11, 2016 at 7:42 am

    Maura, You are an inspiration to all battling cancer. I wish you the best, and please continue your blog! My prayers are with you

  9. Jacque Boyd on May 31, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    Maura, you have always been an inspiration and continue to be. Bless this path in front of you and you’ll know why you’re on it when you get to the end. Back to being that unbreakable, healthy woman.
    Love, love, love,

  10. prayers to Heal on June 3, 2016 at 9:03 am

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  11. Tracy Hodgeman on July 22, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    Beautiful Maura, inside and out. I so appreciate you. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

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