Facing cancer after an eating disorder was hard, but it also helped me see that my health issues are not my fault

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Photo: Erica Joy Baker

As of March 17, 2019, I am a one-year survivor of ovarian cancer. I am deeply grateful for this. Ovarian cancer is the deadliest of all gynecological cancers, and I am one of the lucky ones who has access to top-tier treatment and a deeply supportive community. But I am surviving more than cancer — I am also surviving an eating disorder.

I tell you this because I am proud of it, finally. Proud to say that I am here because I want to be, proud that I have chosen survival. Proud that I have chosen to thrive. …

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The scene: A retreat in Northern California. Before the period of silent meditation begins, practitioners arrange their cushions and ready themselves for the evening ahead.

I look up, and see a jovial man in his 70s walking directly toward me. My shy kid instincts boot up, but I decide to remain open to the new experience, like a “good yogi” might.

“So, where’s your hair?” He asks, sitting down next to me, on someone else’s meditation cushion.

I freeze momentarily like a bald deer in headlights. Is this really happening right now?

Grace Livingston

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