Lindsay vs. Lion

“What’s it like to go through cancer treatment? It’s something like this: one day, you’re minding your own business, you open the fridge to get some breakfast, and OH MY GOD THERE’S A MOUNTAIN LION IN YOUR FRIDGE.


So you take off running, and the mountain lion is right behind you. You know the only thing that can kill a mountain lion is a bear, and the only bear is on top of the mountain, so you better find that bear. You start running up the mountain in hopes of finding the bear. Your friends desperately want to help, but they are powerless against mountain lions, as mountain lions are godless killing machines. But they really want to help, so they’re cheering you on and bringing you paper cups of water and orange slices as you run up the mountain and yelling at the mountain lion – “GET LOST, MOUNTAIN LION, NO ONE LIKES YOU” – and you really appreciate the support, but the mountain lion is still coming.

Also, for some reason, there’s someone in the crowd who’s yelling “that’s not really a mountain lion, it’s a puma” and another person yelling “I read that mountain lions are allergic to kale, have you tried rubbing kale on it?”

As you’re running up the mountain, you see other people fleeing their own mountain lions. Some of the mountain lions seem comparatively wimpy – they’re half grown and only have three legs or whatever, and you think to yourself – why couldn’t I have gotten one of those mountain lions? But then you look over at the people who are fleeing mountain lions the size of a monster truck with huge prehistoric saber fangs, and you feel like an asshole for even thinking that – and besides, who in their right mind would want to fight a mountain lion, even a three-legged one?

Finally, the person closest to you, whose job it is to take care of you – maybe a parent or sibling or best friend or, in my case, my husband – comes barging out of the woods and jumps on the mountain lion, whaling on it and screaming “GODDAMMIT MOUNTAIN LION, STOP TRYING TO EAT MY WIFE,” and the mountain lion punches your husband right in the face. Now your husband (or whatever) is rolling around on the ground clutching his nose, and he’s bought you some time, but you still need to get to the top of the mountain.

Eventually you reach the top, finally, and the bear is there. Waiting. For both of you. You rush right up to the bear, and the bear rushes the mountain lion, but the bear has to go through you to get to the mountain lion, and in doing so, the bear TOTALLY KICKS YOUR ASS, but not before it also punches your husband in the face. And your husband is now staggering around with a black eye and bloody nose, and saying “can I get some help, I’ve been punched in the face by two apex predators and I think my nose is broken,” and all you can say is “I’M KIND OF BUSY IN CASE YOU HADN’T NOTICED I’M FIGHTING A MOUNTAIN LION.”

Then, IF YOU ARE LUCKY, the bear leaps on the mountain lion and they are locked in epic battle until finally the two of them roll off a cliff edge together, and the mountain lion is dead.
Maybe. You’re not sure – it fell off the cliff, but mountain lions are crafty. It could come back at any moment.
And all your friends come running up to you and say “that was amazing! You’re so brave, we’re so proud of you! You didn’t die! That must be a huge relief!”

Meanwhile, you blew out both your knees, you’re having an asthma attack, you twisted your ankle, and also you have been mauled by a bear. And everyone says “boy, you must be excited to walk down the mountain!” And all you can think as you stagger to your feet is “I never wanted to climb this mountain in the first place.”By Caitlin Feeley – originally posted  here 


I’ve never re- posted content for a blog post before, but I came across this essay today and felt like the author was staring straight into my soul. Such an incredibly accurate way to describe the desperation and terror one feels during that hike up the cancer mountain. We struggle to make each step forward, and it’s impossible to not compare our lions to others, or not feel guilty for the pain the lion is causing our loved ones. You’re expected to feel relief when you see that lion roll off the edge- but you’ve been tricked by that lion before… and you’re still in shock you found yourself on this mountain in the first place. Right now, I’m slowly and steadily walking back down the mountain, but I still see the nasty mess that lion left behind- and I’m often looking over my shoulder, convinced I hear it tracking me for its next attack. I sure am lucky to have had so many people that ran up that mountain with me and did all they could to heckle that lion and show me love. And I am just so thankful that dang bear, it did what it had to do.

Lindsay – 1

Lion- 0



  1. This so speaks to me. 2 years into this cancer battle and I feel like I’ve been through hell and back with no end in sight. Strong, brave, warrior, words that are thrown around. I’d rather hear gone forever and never coming back. Amazing story.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Lindsay, Thanks for sharing. Powerful and valid. I’m 2 1/2 years from my cancers surgery and multiple treatments (stage 4 prostate leaked into lymph nodes). When people asked me now how I’m doing I say, “I’m fine.. but as good as my last 1000 mile checkup”. Obviously referring to my routine testing and follow up visits. Those mountain lions are tricky. Stay Strong.. Live Life! Charles


    Liked by 1 person

  3. As I read this, I just kept thinking that someone put into words how I felt, how I feel, what I struggle with. After being diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer August 2016, I have been NED for almost 14 months…but there is nagging thought, fear that lingers on the edge of my thoughts…is it back? Is it just hiding waiting for me to get comfortable? These thoughts are woven into my mind and I constantly have to beat them back. It has been especially hard lately as I have lost 3 wonderful people to cancer… Why am I still here? Why was I able to defeat my mountain lion and they couldn’t? I don’t have the answer but maybe, just maybe I am still here to say not today lion—- not today…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this! It makes me laugh and cry. I often have the image of “lions, tigers, and bears” in my mind as I work my way through these years of living with cancer. Thank you for your words. oxo Susan

    Liked by 1 person

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