I ran into a guy I used to date yesterday.

(This is neither the quality nor the quantity point of the story).

He and I caught up for a bit, sharing the major updates of our lives in bullet point form. I didn’t even get to the cancer thing. My body tried to kill me but it’s cool! Et tu, Brute? That’s not really casual conversation, you know? He asked if I was still teaching, I told him about Women Catalysts and writing.

“You were a writer back then too,” he said.

Which is funny, because I remember it differently. I think I was more of a reader at…

One of the most important things to come to light with the recent spate of sexual harassment and assault allegations is the degree to which powerful men who are serial abusers of women have been shaping the stories we get to consume — from the movies we watch (including who gets represented and how) to the news we hear and believe (and that informs who we vote for and elect) and so much more.

This week at Lightning Talks (Women Catalysts’ speaker series), I gave the audience three calls to action that I’d like to share with you too.

  1. Share…

“Are you hydrating?”

Have you had any water? What about electrolytes?

In other words: cool it.

But there’s no cool to be had — it’s fucking hot out here. So hot that everyone keeps saying this is the hottest Burn they’ve ever had. It’s Day 2 of Early Arrival and I start to panic; I’m not sure I can last 12 days out here. I don’t even really know these people, what am I doing here?

If I leave early, I won’t be invited back. Fine. I have friends. Except…I said I would do it and here I am.


I walk into the small, charming art supply store for probably the third or fourth time in as many months. Each of the times before, I left empty-handed. This time I find myself asking aloud before I can stop myself: “Excuse me? If a person [me] wanted to start with watercolors, what would you get?”

She helpfully shows me a few kinds of paper, brushes, and color palettes. Perfectly placed, so pristine and intimidating.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about art and artists. Who gets to call themselves an artist. …

“Hi, may I speak with Lindsay?”

It’s my oncology nurse. It’s supposed to be my last day of chemo today but my white blood cell count is too low to do treatment. She says we have to push it back a week and I know it’s not a big deal, but I burst into tears. I try to choke them back as I ask her what I can do to make sure my count is high enough to do chemo next week.

Nothing. Wait and see.

I’m already on my pre-chemo regimen of steroids and no carbs, which means I haven’t slept well and I’ve had…

Image by Joy Miessi

Fun fact: just 8% of people keep their New Year’s resolutions. That’s not a lot, which kind of makes you wonder if the problem is in the premise: the idea that your life is something that needs to be resolved.

A few years ago, my friend Vincent told me about how he sets themes for the New Year and I’ve been doing it ever since. …

Last year I was invited to talk about Women Catalysts at an International Women’s Day event at Google as part of a global series of celebrations put on by Women Techmakers.

I was one of a handful of women slated to give an Ignite-style talk. If you’re not familiar, Ignite Talks are 5 minute presentations with 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds. Scary, yes. But a great opportunity for us.

So I wrote, rehearsed, edited, and rehearsed some more. At the risk of sounding braggy, I nailed my run-through. I felt good. I felt solid.

You see where this…

“Daddy, why doesn’t she have any hair?”

She’s little, maybe a bit older than three, and riding on his shoulders. I’m pretty amused, but he’s clearly uncomfortable.

“Ummmm, well…some girls have short hair?” he says it like a question, his voice rising with upward inflection. What do you tell a three year-old about cancer? I feel for him, but she’s not having it.

No,” she says firmly. Then exclaiming even more loudly than before, “She has NO hair!”

Truth. You tell ‘em! He turns so that they can go in a different direction, probably to some other hard-to-answer questions.


I barely sleep the night before chemo but it turns out I have nothing to worry about — other than a brief bad reaction, it’s painless and I end up sleeping through most of it.

I get a private room for my first treatment, which is for the best because I have four friends with me. We are a party. Lis even brings champagne flutes, sparkling water, and penis straws from her bachelorette.

The nurse talks us through what the process will be like. All of the names sound the same to me: toxic. They’ve forgotten to give me steroids…

I’m the youngest patient at chemo class by at least 30 years. This isn’t fair I think and I’m both ashamed of the thought and surprised it hasn’t come sooner.

Much to our disappointment, the class is pretty remedial. Cancer is rapidly dividing cells. Chemo is…

Rapidly dividing cells. Nothing personal.

There’s this married couple and they’re the kind of old married couple you want to be, playful and affectionate. When the slide about chemo and sex comes up he clears his throat and loudly asks, “Excuse me? Can I go to the bathroom now? I don’t need to know…

Lindsay Jean Thomson

Writer, community builder, and co-founder of Women Catalysts. Finding the best in myself and others.

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