Sign Up For The Embroider Your State Workshop!

embroidery creative art workshop

Update:  The workshop is now full.  Please sign up below to be notified when the next workshop is announced!

Lacuna Loft’s online State Embroidery Workshop is the 14th in our #LetsMakeStuff @LacunaLoft series of online workshops!

This workshop is designed to teach you the basics of embroidery stitches while combining a negative space style and your love for a particular state or country. If you’ve never done this before, you’re in luck! Anna, an artist out of NYC, will go step-by-step through everything! If you love embroidery and you’re a real pro already, no problem! While some of the tutorial will be more than you need, the rest of the time spent stitching and being artsy with other young adult cancer peers will be totally worth it. In this workshop, you’ll learn some basic embroidery stitches, including the ever-useful back stitch! We will whip up a fabulous state or country piece of your choice and with the skills you’ll learn, you can then move on to embroider just about anything!  When you sign up you can choose a state or country as well as a color combination (we’ll match it as closely as we can!) and then look forward to a fun workshop!

color combinations for embroidery

Who: 15 young adult cancer survivors and caregivers.

When: Saturday, August 25th @ 10 am PT / noon CT / 1 pm ET via video chat.

How does it work? We’ll send you all of the materials you need to participate! Lacuna Loft will send you an email about a week before the workshop with information on how to join the video chat. ***You’ll need the link that we’ll provide you, a headset with a microphone, and a webcam.***

All images provided by the artist, Anna Turner.

Click here to sign up to be notified when this program is announced by choosing it under ‘Programs you’re interested in.’ (Feel free to choose to be notified when other programs are announced too!)

Join The 101 Tasks In 1,001 Days Creative Art Workshop!

woman with journal

Update:  The workshop is now full.  Please fill out the interest form below to be notified when the next Creative Art Workshop is forming.

Are you a young adult cancer survivor or a young adult cancer caregiver? Do you like making lists? Do you like having goals to reach for?  This is the perfect workshop for you!

Lacuna Loft’s online 101 Tasks in 1,001 Days List Workshop is the 13th in our #LetsMakeStuff @LacunaLoft series of online Creative Art Workshops!

This workshop is designed to help you create a list of 101 tasks to complete over a period of 1,001 days.  Amanda will give you examples on how she structured her own list and there will be time for people to share some of their goals and get their creative juices flowing!  Join us for a night of goal setting and inspiration!  Enjoy a social setting and a fabulous motivational activity while hanging out with your young adult cancer peers!

Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined.  Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on your part).  Exciting!  Why 1,001 Days? Many people have created lists in the past – frequently simple challenges such as New Year’s resolutions or a ‘Bucket List’.  The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic.  1,001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organizing and timing some tasks such as overseas trips, study semesters, or outdoor activities.  Here’s more info on the 101 in 1,001 List project!

Who:  15 young adult cancer survivors and caregivers.

When: Monday, July 30th @ 5:30-7:30 pm PT / 7:30-9:30 pm CT / 8:30-10:30 pm ET via video chat.

How does it work?  We’ll send you all of the materials you need to participate!  Lacuna Loft will send you an email about a week before the workshop with information on how to join the video chat.  ***You’ll need the link that we’ll provide you, a headset with a microphone, and a webcam.***

Click here to sign up to be notified when this program is announced by choosing it under ‘Programs you’re interested in.’ (Feel free to choose to be notified when other programs are announced too!)

Flashback #3: Motivational Desktops

motivation after young adult cancer

To celebrate our 2-year anniversary of being a nonprofit, Lacuna Loft is bringing back our top 31 articles from our archives!  The countdown to our top post is continuing today with Flashback #3: Motivational Desktops, written by Mallory. These 31 articles are the best of the best and we’re very happy to share them with you again!  The countdown continues tomorrow!

….Learning how to be a survivor, or going through that which needed surviving…those are tough times in life.  As I continue living through survivorship, little motivational happy thoughts really help me re-correct my outlook on something if I seem to be straying into negative musings.  I like the continual, gentle reminders that life is tough, but we are here to survive….and that even through the tough times, life can be very beautiful.  What kind of reminders do you like to keep your outlook on life as positive and happy as possible?  I, for one, love a good motivational poster………


Read the rest of the article here!

The Thing About Cancer + Exercise Is…

young adult cancer and exercise

[spb_text_block pb_margin_bottom=”no” pb_border_bottom=”no” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”]

During the month of May, we’ll be bringing back some of your favorite posts in groups of 5!

Today, we’ve got 5 GREAT posts focused on getting to the nitty gritty of young adult cancer and exercise.

[/spb_text_block] [spb_single_image image=”14196″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” lightbox=”yes” image_link=”” link_target=”_blank” fullwidth=”no” width=”1/2″ el_position=”first”][/spb_single_image] [spb_single_image image=”14194″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” lightbox=”yes” image_link=”” link_target=”_blank” fullwidth=”no” width=”1/2″ el_position=”last”][/spb_single_image] [spb_single_image image=”14197″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” lightbox=”yes” image_link=”” link_target=”_blank” fullwidth=”no” width=”1/2″ el_position=”first”][/spb_single_image] [spb_single_image image=”14193″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” lightbox=”yes” image_link=”” link_target=”_blank” fullwidth=”no” width=”1/2″ el_position=”last”][/spb_single_image] [spb_single_image image=”14192″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” lightbox=”yes” image_link=”” link_target=”_blank” fullwidth=”no” width=”1/2″ el_position=”first last”][/spb_single_image]

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

Feeling Beautiful

I have a much different definition of beauty now, after surviving breast cancer, chemotherapy, and a failed breast reconstruction attempt, than I did before my breast cancer diagnosis.

Before my diagnosis, I loved my long hair, and so did my oldest son, Ethan. Ironically, I had been growing my hair out to donate it to cancer patients so it was getting rather long. I’m happy to say that I was still able to donate my hair. But I was worried about how Ethan would deal with the loss of my hair, so prior to my first chemo appointment, I talked to a child psychologist. I mean, how do you explain cancer and chemo to a five year old? The child psychologist advised me to be honest with Ethan and explain to him that I am sick but I will be ok but the medicine I have to take will make my hair fall out. And she suggested that we make a party out of shaving my head. We invited friends and family over and my mom began cutting my hair. Poor Ethan! He cried and yelled, “Mommy’s not beautiful anymore!” My mom kept assuring him that I was still beautiful and always would be. My husband, Brian, also shaved his head and we asked Ethan if he wanted to shave his too, but he declined. He said his hair was too pretty to cut off! He does have nice hair, but I learned quickly that it is not the hair that makes a person beautiful.

One of the worse parts of chemo for me was the bone pain. My bones hurt so bad that I couldn’t sleep at night. To find some relief, I would soak in the bath tub. Brian would sit into the bathroom with me, in the soft glow of a night light. It would have been so romantic if I wasn’t bald, boobless, and bloated. I certainly didn’t feel beautiful, but to Brian, I was his beautiful wife.
Jamie and brian

When a woman has a bilateral mastectomy like I did, the next step is often reconstruction. For me, surviving breast cancer wasn’t as difficult as surviving a failed reconstruction attempt. Infection set in and I started having blood pressure issues. I was transported to a bigger hospital in Chicago in the middle of the night and things were touch and go for a while. My doctors told me I could try a reconstruction again after six months, but after all I had gone through, I decided reconstruction wasn’t for me. And Brian didn’t want me to have it done either. I decided I need to embrace the chest I have. Scars can be beautiful. I asked a friend who is a body artist to paint on my chest and I posed for topless pictures featuring my scars and her art. I nervously took a chance and posted these pictures on social media during October, breast cancer awareness month. The feedback was overwhelming. I was surprised at the number of people who praised my courage and called my photograph beautiful.

body paint

After my breast cancer diagnosis, I spent a lot of time reading and researching about all the chemicals that are in commonly used items, such as cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items, and food. Scary stuff! We are unaware of what is in the products we buy and we are unaware of safer alternatives. So I threw away EVERYTHING in my house that contained chemicals, and immediately stopped using deodorant and other skin products. While I was detoxifying my body, I didn’t know what alternatives there were to commercial health and beauty products. One day, my mom took me aside and told me that I stunk, literally! And on top of that, my face was an oily, acne mess. Was it possible, I thought, to be beautiful and chemical-free? I turned my research efforts to finding healthy, chemical-free alternatives that were as effective as the commercially made ones. I then began making my own chemical-free, aluminum-free, paraben-free deodorant and tweaking the recipe until I settled on a product that worked. This was really the start of what would become my business, Spero-Hope, LLC.


Please remember that this post is the opinion of the author and should not be replaced for actual medical advice or attention.  Please learn more before making lifestyle changes yourself.  Lacuna Loft supports healthy living, whether chemical-filled or chemical-free!  Find what works best for you!

Songs For Feeling Inspired

young adult cancer

I had a cancer scare a few months ago.  I haven’t shared it with you all yet…but I will.  Until then, when I was scared and feeling isolated and not sure what would happen next, I listened to this song over and over and over again.  I needed to remember that no matter what happened, it was important that I Was Here.

Do you have a song that makes you feel inspired during young adult cancer or illness?

Partnering With Friends To Maintain Motivation

how to maintain motivation

According to my neurologist, migraines respond well to structure.  That means I’m supposed to keep a regular sleeping and eating schedule, and also exercise daily.  The latter is particularly unappealing on my bad days, which is why I enlisted some friends as exercise buddies.  They hold me accountable, making sure I get out for a jog or a brisk walk every day, without fail.  If I miss a day, I’ll end up with two furry black monsters bouncing off the walls.

While not everyone has, or wants, a pair of rambunctious dogs, the general principle of making a joint commitment with a friend is a great way to increase your motivation and accountability.  When you cancel a workout or a study date, you’re not just canceling on yourself (which is often easy, especially when dealing with fatigue and/or pain), but you’re letting someone else down.  That external force can help keep you on track.

In addition to my canine exercise buddies, I have friends with whom I regularly schedule work sessions and chore days.  It feels a little silly at times, but it definitely helps, so I do it!

Have you ever used this method?  Did it work for you? How to maintain motivation is always challenging.  How do you do it? 

Walking For Exercise

walking for exercise

One of the hardest transitions for me during my stint as a caregiver and then as a young adult cancer patient/survivor was figuring out what exercise meant.  When I was in undergrad and then graduate school, I developed an affinity for long distance running.  I started with a rained out 5k (yep, I went back home and straight back to bed without actually running), then transitioned myself directly to a half-marathon (13.1 miles), and finally to a full marathon (26.2 miles).  My body had always thrived on being active.  I loved biking and running and dancing my butt off on a Friday or Saturday night (or both).

Then cancer hit.

When I was caregiving for my mother it was cold outside.  I was back home with my parents, away from my lovely student work out facility, and emotionally and physically fatigued from my new caregiving responsibilities.  When I received my own cancer diagnosis, chemo started and my body was hit hard.  I was continually tired, nauseous, and uncomfortable.  I was used to running, biking, late night dancing, and whatever else, so when my oncologist repeatedly told me that exercise would help with my fatigue and general well being, I had NO idea what to do.  Running made me feel light headed, the idea of being perched on a bike seemed impossible, and late night activities were out entirely.  Plus, it never even occurred to me to just ask what sorts of exercise I could do, now that my definition of working out needed to change dramatically.

After several months into my survivorship, I finally figured out that going for a walk made me feel a million times better than staying cooped up in the house.  I seriously wish someone had been able to read my anxious, cancer filled mind and suggest the idea of walking for exercise earlier but nevertheless, I’m grateful that I figured it out eventually.  (I also wish that I had been able to voice more of these questions of mine but maybe that is an entirely different post!)

Dana Farber has thought this through and has an article describing walking for exercise and everything that entails.  They talk about warming up, tips for keeping proper technique and posture while walking, and more.  The whole article is short but well thought out and very informative.

However you do it, staying active is important during cancer treatments and into your survivorship!  Need help getting moving?  Ask a friend to join you!

How do you keep yourself up and moving?  Have you tried walking for exercise?