I started this blog not long after I was diagnosed with advanced terminal cancer. I’m not sure how long I have to live–already I’ve outlived my lower expectations–but while I’m here I want to share this process of dying in the most positive way I can. I believe it’s important to talk about death and dying in this society that tries so hard to avoid it; I believe that this can reduce our fear and anxiety and potentially transform death (depending on the circumstances) into a beautiful and meaningful experience for the dying person and her loved ones.
Originally, I was writing this simply as facebook posts for concerned friends. I wanted them to know that I wasn’t suffering in despair the way they might be imagining. But my posts were long, and there were requests to gather them together. A blog seemed more readable. Since then, many people I don’t know have started reading my posts. I am so glad that my words are facilitating a conversation about death and helping people find something more than distress in this one inevitable moment we all have to face.
Before I got sick this year, I was a college English teacher and researcher in Montreal. You can find my informal pedagogical research portfolio here in Susan’s teaching blog. I was also leading a federally funded research project into Indigenous students’ stories about post-secondary education. It was inspiring work and kept me very busy! Fortunately I had great research partners who are continuing that project.
I am also a writer and poet. You can find some interviews and reviews of my book The Crow’s Vow here: The Crow’s Vow. (I haven’t updated that blog in quite a long time.)
I have two wonderful sons, Nathan (20) and Oliver (24). Nathan graduated in June from the National Circus School’s college program as a flyer in a duo, Max & Briscoe. Now they are touring the world with their act! Most impressively, Nathan overcame severe addiction to achieve this goal. You can see some of his acrobatics (he is crazy strong!) here: Nathan’s instagram. After a stint working in video game design (he worked on the latest Deus Ex), Oliver has another year to complete a degree in computer science and has his sights set on work in artificial intelligence. He always impresses me with his multi-faceted creativity and wisdom.
My sweet boyfriend Roy Cross is a professor of film production at Concordia University in Montreal. We’ve been together five years. He’s been amazing through all this! He’s also a great writer and has started his own blog about life with a dying girlfriend: And sometimes it goes the other way.
As you can see, I was greatly blessed in this life. It’s a lot to give up, but also a lot to be grateful for.