How To Survive Your Own Apocalypse

how to survive your own apocalypse

My husband is a notoriously quirky gift-giver. For my birthday this year he bought me a weekend at a zombie apocalypse survival camp because I am a huge fan of the television series The Walking Dead.

But I can’t really call myself a die-hard fan of the show because I actually didn’t start watching it until I began treatment for cancer in 2014. During the time I was on chemo, I didn’t have energy for much else besides watching television, and I very quickly ran through episodes of my regular favorites.

At the recommendation of my friend Carmen, I started watching the show, and it made me feel alive. Watching this group of ordinary people who were suddenly thrust into a situation where they had to literally fight for their lives to survive in a new and unpredictable world where the odds were against them inspired me.

It made me hopeful to see the characters on the show continue to face despair, setbacks, and imminent death, and yet they continued to fight for their lives and the possibility of a return to a life that offered a stable future for themselves and their families.

The Walking Dead inspired me and taught me some important lessons that helped me face my own personal apocalypse…

Get ready for a fight.

When you have been diagnosed with a chronic or long-term illness, you have to prepare yourself for the fight ahead.  What you are facing, the changes you have to make in your life, the surgeries and treatments you have to endure, require mental preparation and fortitude.

Keep faith in humanity.

Sometimes when you endure a series of unfortunate events, the world starts to look like a terrible place.  But if you try, you’ll find there are always good people ready to do good deeds, and where there is life there is hope.

alive, hope, and tracks image

Look around and see what really matters.

When you feel like you’re starting to lose everything, look around yourself and count all the things you’ve got left.  Even in times of crisis and scarcity, you might surprise yourself with the abundance in your life.


The disease is inside all of us.

The biggest idea I had to take on board when I was going through my treatment was my own mortality.  It’s something every human has, and we can never completely escape it.  It was very liberating to really admit this limitation.

Appreciate the moments of calm.

Learn to love the boring, uneventful parts of your day.  The restful moments when you can just concentrate on breathing.


Allow your sword to be sharpened by your circumstances.

Michonne is my favorite character on the show.  She was just a working mom and a wife before the apocalypse.  Due to her circumstances–the tragedy after tragedy she experienced–she has become one of the strongest, most unstoppable survivors on the show.

Michonne The Walking Dead Facebook Cover Photo Picture

You survive one second, one minute, one hour, one day at a time.

When something seems unbearable, try to endure it for a second, ten seconds, half a minute, a minute…When handled in small increments, difficult tasks become easier to deal with.

Make room for the pain.

You can’t escape the past.  Acceptance of the good and the bad things that have happened in your life is a choice you make, and it can help you understand the lessons you are meant to learn.

Don’t hold back.

Don’t hide your feelings from yourself or your loved ones.  Tell them how you feel.  Speak your truth in the now because it’s the only thing that’s certain.

Rick Grimes Coma

I ended up leaving zombie apocalypse survival camp early because the sleeping accommodations were uncomfortable, and I couldn’t take another night of restless sleep.  I don’t think the people running the camp or the people attending the camp thought my behavior was very becoming of a “survivor,” but they didn’t know me or my life; how much I’ve survived already, and how much I think about surviving every day.

And when I rejoined my family, and we drove off into a clear New Jersey morning, north, towards Vermont, I knew I would always be ready for whatever was coming next.

links via here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Still Good – Working After Cancer

working after cancer

Life is not the same as it was before cancer. It is much less certain than it was, but I enjoy my life so much more because I have felt in every cell in my body that life is fragile and fleeting. I watch leaves budding on the barren trees of winter, and I marvel at the persistence of life. When my daughter is having a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store, I say, “Thank you, God, for letting me be here to see this.”

Before cancer, I was a workaholic. It’s an inherited trait from my father. I cared too much about trying to make things perfect and maintaining a certain standard that my last job nearly killed me. I was up at 5:00am, at work by 6:30am, and I’d work through breaks and lunch and at home. For days at a time, I wouldn’t drink anything during my workday but coffee, and because I wasn’t eating proper meals, I was eating way too many desk chocolates. Because of the caffeine, even when it was time to rest, I couldn’t get a good night’s sleep, and pretty soon thereafter came cancer.

Flash forward to my life where I am currently showing no evidence of disease and my daughter is getting ready to turn five and start kindergarten. Once she starts “big school” there will be no real reason for me to remain a stay-at-home mom, so I decided to dip my toe back into the employment pool.

I knew with great certainty that I didn’t want to go back to the same type of work that I was doing before–at least not right away. When I think back at my time at my last job, I feel pretty shell-shocked. Also, due to my newly reorganized priorities, I don’t want a job that comes with homework. I just want to hang my work hat up at the end of the day and enjoy my time with my family in the evenings.

Filling in job applications felt weird. Why did you leave your last job? Well…I…got…cancer… I wondered how many employers might stop reading right there, but I figured it was better to be honest. It usually is.

It was a huge relief when I started getting called in to do interviews, and strangely enough the cancer never came up in a single one. It made me wonder if they didn’t read my application all the way, or if it just didn’t matter…

In any case, I’m happy to report that I’m just a little broken, but still good. I’m employable. I can still make a difference in the lives of the people I work with, and I can still do great work without killing myself in the process.

#worklifebalance #wherethereislifethereishope

Have you tried working after cancer?  Tell us about your own experience!

Brain Soup

My biggest fear in life has always been losing my mind. From the age of two until the age of four my grandmother with Alzheimer’s disease lived with us, and she terrified me. She didn’t know who we were. She didn’t know where she was. She didn’t know when it was. She would escape. She would have fits. It was a lot to process for a small child; I can only imagine what it must have been like for her, and then she died. For many years after her passing, I lived in fear the same thing would happen to me.

For the past few months I have been seeing a neuro-oncologist and a neuro-psychologist. For more than a year I have been experiencing what feels a lot to me like brain-damage, but only after a CT scan, where they identified a mysterious lesion on my brain, was I referred to specialists.

My two biggest cognitive concerns are that I can’t read the same way I used to, and my short term memory seems to be on the fritz.

The medical term for this is ‘chemo brain’. This name feels reductive to me because it recalls the playful nomenclatures that describe what happens to a woman when she becomes a mother—‘pregnancy brain’ and ‘baby brain’. I did experience lapses in short term memory when pregnant and transitioning into motherhood, and the cause of this could be linked to pregnancy hormones and lack of sleep. But after my daughter was born, and I started getting six hours to eight hours of sleep in a row, things went back to normal.

Chemo brain is an animal of a different species. My brain that once felt sharp now feels slightly mushy. I regularly experience lapses in memory, and when I look at a page of text my eyes panic like they don’t know where to look.

My memories used to record in HD picture and sound, but now they are like a Super 8 film with chunks of the reel missing.

I spent five hours undergoing rigorous cognitive testing, trying to push my mind to the limits—testing my memory, reading comprehension, physical dexterity, math skills, visuospatial intelligence, language ability, and the diagnosis was that I am “a very smart lady” with an “organized mind.”

Not helpful.

Because I tested either “above average” or “off-the-charts” in every category the doctors could not find anything wrong with me.

But as a teacher, I know standardized tests are horsefeathers. I have always been good at tests and I’ve taught students who could barely speak English how to pass their end of grade tests because taking a test is a skill.

Also as a teacher, I have learned to give myself modifications such as reading out loud or using something to underline the text I’m reading line-by-line. I also ask Siri to give me so many reminders that my daughter refers to her as my “robot friend.”


image via

And even though I’m adapting, I acutely feel the loss of my former brain, and I don’t know when or if I will ever get her back.

Very little is known about chemo brain. The brain, being a universe unto itself, is difficult to study.  They don’t know what causes it and therefore it’s not easy to treat. They have had some luck treating people with chemo brain using drugs used to treat ADD, but unfortunately that’s not an option in my case.

So here is my appeal to scientific researchers:
1) Please continue developing targeted treatments so cancer patients can stop poisoning themselves with chemotherapies.
2) Find out what causes chemo brain.
3) Find a way to either stop it from happening or to cure it.
4) And when you have a moment, please, think of a better name for this condition—something slightly more sciencey.

And lastly, my advice for other chemo brain suffers:
1) Make friends with the robot inside your phone. If you ask Siri to remind you of things, she will do it.
2) Take lots of notes.
3) Keep your calendar updated and check it every day.
4) Reduce the number of distractions when you are doing something that requires concentration.
5) Make a conscious effort to pay attention.
6) Talk to your doctor. They might help you benefit from cognitive therapy or medication.
7) Talk to the other people in your life about what you’re going through so they can support you.
8) Don’t be hard on yourself.

hug-yourselfimage via

Do you suffer from chemo brain?  Do you have any tips or tricks to help manage it?

You Are Not Alone

young adult cancer support

Going through something tough? Feel alone? Well, you don’t have to be. In the Internet Age, if you have a computer and Internet access, you can connect with another human being twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.  Anytime you want, you can have access to tech-support for the soul, and chances are, there is someone going through the exact same thing you are right now. And if multiple people are going through the same thing as you, then there is a strong chance there exists a free, online support group for people trying to overcome your same set of challenges. If there’s not, then you can build one, and they will come.

But being open about your problems and personal weaknesses is much easier said than done. I didn’t even tell my own family about my cancer diagnosis until two months after my diagnosis. And I didn’t tell most of my friends about it until four months after my diagnosis. When I first found out about the cancer, I just thought I could power through it on my own. I didn’t want to tell my mom because she still had an exposed nerve about losing my dad to cancer, and I didn’t want her to have to worry about losing me the same way. And generally, I was just embarrassed about being sick and needing help.

Because of my own pride, I didn’t even join a support group until six months after my diagnosis because the ones I had found were through Facebook and I was afraid if I joined, everyone would know.

Finally, I reached my low point emotionally. The chemo was not really doing anything to shrink the cancer. I felt terrible all the time, and I needed the support of people who were going through what I was going through and who had been through what I had been through.

I was in a unique position because we were living as expats in England at the time, so I didn’t really have much of a community around me for support. I had a handful of solid friends spread across the UK, I had my amazing husband and adorable daughter, but at the time, for the most part I just felt like misery, party of one.

So I mustered my courage and joined two online support groups: Younger Breast Cancer Network and Berkshire Breast Cancer Support Group. Both of these groups were great for different reasons.

The Younger Breast Cancer Network was great because it was a large and active online community. You could post a question or comment and have twenty responses in five minutes. For the most part, everyone was very positive and encouraging, and it felt good to be part of a group of women who were so fun, young and alive, while going through the same things as me. I spent a lot of time interacting with this community while I finished my treatment.

The Berkshire Breast Cancer Support Group was smaller and less active online, but it was this group that showed me how powerful online support groups can truly be.

Because my husband and I did not have a lot of friends in our community, our daughter also did not have a lot of friends in the community. She went to a posh preschool three days a week, where she had some friends that she could play with, but we were generally snubbed by the parents there because my husband drove a white van and a falling-apart Fiat and wore dirty overalls to drop our daughter off with all the dads in suits.

Our only social interaction with the parents was at birthday parties to which her whole class was invited, and then people mainly just stuck to talking to the people they knew, and the hosts would hardly say ‘hi’ and ‘goodbye’.


The Birthday Girl

When it came time for my daughter’s birthday, I wanted to throw her a nice party because in the back of my mind I wanted to make the celebration memorable because I didn’t know how many more birthdays I’d live to see. I rented the local sports hall and one of those inflatable play structures and I let her pick the theme of “Under the Sea”.

Then I sent out invitations to her class, and immediately I got a lot of ‘no’ responses. I was gutted. One of the moms informed me another child from the class was having a party on the same day to which my daughter had not been invited. She was one of four other kids from a class of twenty-six who had not been invited to the little boy’s party. I cried a lot about it. It was one thing for adults to choose not to spend time with other adults, but to do that to children? It seemed pretty heartless. Especially when we went to another child’s birthday party, and the little boy whose party she had not been invited to was wanting to play with our daughter the whole time.

After a couple of hours of wallowing in self-pity, I decided to invite my support groups to the party. It seemed like a waste to cancel it, and it seemed like a sad reminder of how friendless we were to have a party in a big sports hall with just five children. Because the YBCN was made up of members from all over the UK, none of them actually lived close enough to attend the party. However, the Berkshire group was made up of ladies who lived locally, and they really saved the day. Especially Lucy Price and Rosalind Ansell, who brought children and other mothers to the party.

It was so touching, I cried again. I will always be grateful for that kindness.

If I hadn’t joined those groups, it would have been a lot more emotionally difficult to get through my treatment, but in the end, I left both groups. Partly because we moved back to the States and they were UK-specific groups, and partly because it was hard to continue to think about cancer when all I wanted to do was not have cancer anymore. Especially in the YBCN, around the time I finished treatment, several of the women who had been diagnosed around the same time as me died. That’s the nightmare, the one you never wake up from, and even though I wanted to stay in to be strong for people who were just starting their journey…I just couldn’t.

There are some of my fellow survivors from those sites who I stay connected with through Facebook and Twitter, and it does my heart good to see them living, really living, and moving forward from this awful disease.

And while I am no longer active in support groups, cancer remains an inexorable part of my life. Now I have Lacuna Loft as a platform through which to connect with other survivors, and I am in a better place physically and emotionally, and full of new-found wisdom like the fact you should never be afraid to share your fears or weaknesses with someone else, and you should always ask for help when you need it.

As long as you have Internet access and a computer, you never have to be alone.

You never have to be alone.

You can find Mahalia on twitter @30ishTweets

This Should Never Happen

burdened with medical bills

A former student of mine posted this link to a GoFundMe page a young woman set up before committing suicide. The subtext of her suicide note is that she didn’t feel worth the cost of the treatment necessary to keep her alive, and she didn’t want to be a financial burden to her family any longer.

This broke my heart because it shouldn’t happen anywhere, let alone in the richest country in the world.

A young, intelligent woman with a heart yearning to help others should feel certain her life is worth more than $20,000. She shouldn’t feel like she has become a burden to her family because she has student loan debt and debt from seeking treatment for her mental health struggle. She should have access to healthcare that keeps her alive without making her long for death.

People who suffer from chronic and long-term illnesses will also be familiar with this feeling. The guilt of feeling “not healthy enough” to function at a normal level is already difficult enough to handle without the addition of the guilt from being the cause of financial hardship.

This young woman was not the first person in the United States to commit suicide because of the high cost of medical bills, but I pray she will be the last.

Her death reminded me of an article I read about an American woman named Edith Speed. Edith was diagnosed with breast cancer, just like me, but because she was treated for it here in the United States instead of in the United Kingdom, where I was lucky enough to be treated, she racked up a staggering amount of debt, even selling her car to try and keep up with the payments. Two years after finishing her first round of treatment, the cancer came back, and rather than go through treatment and rack up more debt, she took her own life because she “didn’t have another car to sell”.


This is Edith.

Not too long ago, I went to visit some former teacher colleagues of mine, and I was explaining to them why I thought the NHS was so great in the United Kingdom. I cited as one of my reasons that it keeps people from becoming financial burdens to their families due to the costs of their medical expenses, and this guy, who was not a former colleague of mine, just rolled his eyes and scoffed.

His reaction might have been from the viewpoint that if you love someone you should never view caring for them as a burden, or perhaps he felt having an NHS (National Health Service) takes the responsibility of providing for the expense of someone’s treatment from families and gives it to the tax payers, either way, I know if he had grown up in a country where they have this kind of system, he would not feel that way because I have lived in three different countries (the Republic of South Korea, Denmark, and the United Kingdom) with publicly funded healthcare services and it feels very, very right. I write in detail about my experiences with these different healthcare systems in my book 30ish.


The above chart shows what the average yearly healthcare expenditure per person is (in US$) in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, and the Democratic Republic of South Korea. As you can clearly see, Americans pay significantly more on average than countries that fund their healthcare publicly, according to data provided by the World Bank’s website.


Here, the above chart shows the cost of the same drugs in seven different countries. Once again, you will see clearly how Americans are paying significantly more.  This data is based on the International Federation of Health Plans 2013 Comparative Price Report.

The reason why Americans pay more is simple—corporate greed. When you have publicly funded healthcare the main purpose of the healthcare system becomes to provide quality, affordable healthcare to as many people as possible. When you have a lot of different, corporate insurance providers, by design, their main function is to make a profit. If they can’t make a profit or enough of a profit, then they will raise their prices to increase their profit margins.

It’s despicable and completely uncivilized. America should not ransom life-saving healthcare services because corporations need to make money. When people are taking their own lives because they don’t want to burden their families with medical bills, it becomes perfectly clear the cost of our healthcare system in America is way too high.

Lacuna Loft does not advocate for or against a social healthcare system.  We seek to provide information and personal experiences from our contributors to the wider, Lacuna loft audience.

Interested in becoming part of the hospital and insurance practices conversation in the United States?  Check out

Are you a young adult cancer survivor? Check out The SamFund for financial help.

top image via

Boobs To Noobs

Getting breasts is one of the hallmarks of becoming a woman, but for most of our lives, they’re merely decorative. In the case of men, I believe their’s are God’s way of reminding them their embryos started out as female, to help connect them with the female experience, or maybe they’re just a Darwinian fluke. For whatever reason, everyone has them.

In the quarter of a century I had in bras, I only used my boobs for their biological purpose for four and a half months. Then a cancer cell found a nice home to reproduce in inside one of my stretched out milk ducts, and those biddies had to go.

Up until that point in my adult life, I had always had a great self-image. It took eighteen years to get comfortable with my body, but once I did, I was loving it. “Powers” by Blackalicious could best describe how I felt about my wonderful anatomy.

Becoming a mother was a bit of a hit to how I felt about my body. My daughter was a week late, and in that last week my abs gave out and all my stretchmarks came at once and my belly just sagged. But I started cycling to work, and getting back to feeling awesome, and then cancer came along and shattered my positive feelings about my physical appearance.

The first thing that happened was my long, lustrous hair started falling out in clumps, so I shaved my head. I looked at myself in the mirror and I couldn’t even see my own face, but I started to wear wig and I felt a bit better.

Next my eyebrows and eyelashes fell out. It is amazing how much this further changed the appearance of my face. Without this hair to define my eyes, I just looked sick.

Then, I gained a lot of weight. That’s right! I always thought people on chemo lost weight, but not me, I was on steroids, so for the first time in my life I felt a ravenous hunger, and because I was at home and feeling sorry for myself, I just went with it.

And to top it all off my chest went from shapely to concave. I told myself before I had the surgery, that I might actually look forward to being flat-chested; no bras to worry about, and I could exercise without the discomfort of jiggling. But when I went out in public with my new look, passersby could not hide their looks of revulsion.

A fat, disfigured, bald woman with no eyebrows or eyelashes was not pleasing to the eyes of the general public. I even had a couple of people mistake me for a woman who was trying to transition into a man.

So armored in my wig, make up, and knitted knockers, I found people were able to look at me and smile again.


But bras don’t work properly without real breasts. They will ride all the way up to your armpits if you don’t work on keeping them in place. Also, you can’t exercise in knitted prosthetics, and even after I joined a women-only gym, I still got stares. I felt like I needed to wear a shirt that said, “I had breast cancer”, so people wouldn’t have to look and stare at me in wonder.

I’d like to be able to tell my daughter that appearances don’t matter, but judging people by their appearance is an evolutionary instinct. I’m not saying it’s right, but it’s how all of the people you encounter on a daily-basis who don’t know you personally, will experience you. It’s why fashion and cosmetics are industries.

Of course, there is always the option of not caring what other people think, but I tried it, and it doesn’t work for me.  I’m an extrovert.

So I’ve decided to have incredibly invasive plastic surgery, where they will cut new breasts out of my belly fat and sew them onto my chest. I don’t know if I will ever feel like I have my powers back, but I hope my noobs will give me the power to be able to feel comfortable wearing a swimsuit in public this summer.

Have you had a similar experience following your mastectomy?  Did you decide on reconstruction?

10 Things You Can Do To Make Waiting Purposeful

I played so much Angry Birds while I was going through chemo, that now, when I see a picture of an Angry Bird, I start to feel a little green around the gills. Actually, as I write this, just thinking about Angry Birds makes me a little sick to my stomach.

Once I finished treatment and found I could no longer play my favorite time-killing app, I had to try and think of some other ways to pass the time while waiting around to be seen.  Here are some suggestions for making the most of your time.

1. Make Lists
I pull out my phone and make all sorts of lists: questions for my doctors, shopping lists, to-do lists, places I want to visit, recipes I want to try, possible birthday gifts for family members, books I want to read…I just made a list of lists I make—meta.


2. Self-Talk
Please don’t do this out loud or you may find yourself leaving with a few extra medications. No, self-talk is like having an intentional, internal monologue. This is time where I sit and think positive thoughts, meditate on reassuring quotes, or try and logically talk myself through issues weighing heavily on my mind.


3. Do Something Creative
People who can knit or sew are, in my mind, wizards. I don’t have the kind of magic in my hands to be able to do that, but I can doodle, cross stitch, or my personal favorite—plug headphones into my phone to make beats and write songs with Garage Band Studio.


4. Text
Having never been a phone person, this is the kind of thing I don’t normally think to do, but when I find myself with phone service and extra time in a waiting room, I try to check in with people.


5. Clean Out Your Inbox
Being the proud user of a Hotmail email address from 1996, I get a lot of ads in my inbox I don’t normally take the time to delete.


6. Clean Out Your Photos
So…much…storage… If you regularly take photos, but don’t regularly delete them off your phone, it’s a good way to spend a few minutes. And don’t forget to delete them from the “deleted” photos album!


7. Seated Kegels
Not just for women…


8. Click-to-Give
That’s right you can do charity work…without spending money… There are so many click-to-give charity sites nowadays, where you click a button and some people will donate money just because you showed your support for a cause by caring enough to click.


9. Conduct Research
Chances are there are other people in the room where you are waiting. You can ask them questions about things you want to know more about. Even if they don’t know the answer to your question, it could be a good way to strike up a productive conversation.


10. Take a walk
I don’t know why more waiting rooms don’t have treadmills, but if you arrive for your appointment, and there seems like there is going to be a long wait, you could ask the person at the reception desk how long they think it will be, cut that number in half and take a little walk.

Cropped view of a pair of woman's feet wearing sports trainers and walkingimages via here, here, here, here, here, and here

How do you like to spend your time waiting?  Check out our other keeping busy while waiting posts here and here!

Darn You, Ed Sheeran!

Some people listen to music for the melody or the beat; I listen to music for the lyrics, and that cheeky little carrot top, Ed Sheeran and all participating radio stations who have been playing his song “Photograph” have been responsible for my impaired vision on many a drive because the lyrics are so damn poignant.

When my dad died from colon cancer in 2006, we laid out all of the photo albums my mom had been compiling during their twenty-five years of marriage.  There were black and white pictures from his mysterious childhood, and color photos from the start of my parents’ marriage in the seventies right up until death they did part.

It changed something inside of me to lose someone who had been such a big part of my life, and then to look back at the photos.  Our lives as we lived them had often been difficult.  In my memories of my childhood, there is a lot of pain and sadness, but when you looked back at the photographs, all you could see were smiles:  happy birthdays, family vacations, graduations, triumphant sporting victories, holidays, school concerts, plays, awards ceremonies, reunions…

Looking back through those photos, life looked good.  All the stress my father dealt with working at a job he hated was for those moments.  The blissful life depicted by the family in those photographs were his life’s work.

dad pic

As part of my grieving process I looked through every last album, and when I finished, I knew one day when I had a family of my own, I wanted to be able to give them all the happiness as pictured in the photographs, and additionally, I wanted us to be happy in the moments not captured on film.

2006 was also the same year Twitter was born and the same year Facebook became open to anyone with an email address over the age of 13.  With the pending explosion of the popularity of image sharing via social media websites there became a new way for us to curate our afterlives.

Fast-forward to 2014 when I was diagnosed with stage 3 triple negative cancer at the age of thirty-two, and it became a reality that I might not get to live a very long life. The albums would stop being made, and my life’s work would be suddenly finished while still in its larval stage.  My husband and I had only been married for four years, and our daughter was only two years old at the time of my diagnosis.

2014 was also the same year Ed Sheeran’s song “Photograph” was released on iTunes.

Now it’s 2016, and I’m showing no evidence of disease.  I just ordered our yearly album of family photographs from, and I lie awake in bed tearing up just thinking about those lyrics.  Darn you, Ed Sheeran!

yearly photo album

Here is the official video for the song.

Mahalia Breen is the author of 30ish available in Kindle and paperback form on Amazon.  She has recently repatriated after six years of living overseas and currently spends her days taking photos of her family in rural Vermont.

image via

Welcome Mahalia!

Lacuna Loft is excited to continue introducing some guest bloggers! These great folks represent a variety of perspectives on the myriad of topics covered here at Lacuna Loft. Before everyone starts really getting into the nitty-gritty of all they have to say, we wanted to introduce them a bit. Without further ado, here is Mahalia!

Mahalia Breen is a Filipino-Irish quark bred in captivity in North Carolina. She has recently repatriated after six years in Europe and currently lives in rural Vermont with her spunky daughter and beer brewer husband. In addition to being a domestic goddess, she is also the author of the book 30ish, a certified teacher, an illustrator for beer labels, and the business manager for Casita Cerveceria, LLC.

Diagnosed with stage 3 triple negative breast cancer at the age of 32 while living in the United Kingdom, she has very strong feelings about the need for healthcare reform in the United States.

At this stage in life, she is at peace with the fact she will not likely live a very long life, but she is so grateful and happy to have made it this far past her diagnosis and hopes to be able to ride this wave for as long as possible.

This year, she is getting new boobs to replace the ones that tried to kill her, so she will probably write about it.

She is also a lover of Victorian literature and period dramas, and she cites them as a strong influence on her development. One of the characters she connected with at an early age was Jane Eyre.  This scene from the novel Jane Eyre has stayed with her through the years.

While it’s become clear Mahalia will not achieve her childhood goal of immortality, she hopes to be able to make the most of however much life she has left, and she looks forward to generating content for Lacuna Loft.