Atoosa Unedited
Atoosa Unedited
I Have Breast Cancer

I Have Breast Cancer

And other reasons you haven't heard from your friend, Atoosa.
Biopsies, Bruises and Breasts…Oh My! I’m armed with my Arnica pellets.


I have breast cancer. 

No burying the lede here, right?

Listen, I’m not trying to be coy or clever. I just want you to know why you haven’t heard from me. 

Well…that’s not entirely true. I hadn’t written for a few weeks already before I got my diagnosis.

So…perhaps we go back in time a bit. 

As I mentioned in a past letter, I’m finished being led by fear. It’s such a powerful and effective source of fuel that most people who’ve successfully figured out how to channel it don’t want to give it up. They may want to be more peaceful. Less stressed. But no one wants to acknowledge that their power source is the problem. And believe me, I understand why.

It reminds me of the Billy Bragg lyric,

“The Temptation

To take the precious things

we have apart to see how they work.

Must be resisted.

For they never fit

Together again.”

Who wants to stop being impressive? Who wants to stop being a winner in a society that defines winners as people who are productive and successful professionally?  I wouldn’t have had the courage to even explore these questions over the past 20 years if I hadn’t already let the fear program run wild so I could rest on my laurels.

But fear is like fossil fuels. We can ignore what’s happening to the environment because we’re set in our ways and like the cars we like. We can reduce the climate crisis to something we can tune out like Charlie Brown’s teacher in the Peanuts cartoons. Or something that will work itself out without our concern.

It’s the same for stress and fear. Most people think one day they will not have stress. Or one day they will stop hustling…striving…once they achieve fill-in-the-blank. And how many of you have a physical condition that lists stress as a possible cause…and you gloss over that one and look to the other “real” causes.

We KNOW what is best for us. We KNOW what is destroying our peace of mind. But it’s usually the one thing we’re not willing to acknowledge, much the less change.

I kind of had that relationship with fear. My fear made me a beast. My fear made me the most organized mom who had all the answers…the one who was the President of the PA. My fear fueled incredible productivity and success from myself and my teams at the magazines. My fear made me the youngest Editor-in-Chief in the blah blah blah and earned me many other awards I won’t bore you with. Everything “good” in my life came from this fear. But none of said good things actually felt good for more than a few moments. Isn’t that crazy? It was all just good on paper.

And that’s it. That’s why I haven’t written. I noticed that I was really stressed before writing every week. I am, honestly, more of a talker less of a writer. But even that is beside the point. I was writing because I felt I “had” to. I was writing because I was afraid of not hitting send on a column at 7pm every Sunday evening. I was writing because I was afraid that if I didn’t I would disappear…cease to be relevant. Cease to be…worthy.

So I took a week off. Then another. And another.

Then I went for my yearly mammogram. Except I hadn’t had a yearly mammogram since 2018 and then a few days and biopsies later got a call that I had cancer.

Honestly? It’s been as great as it can be. I couldn’t have scripted it better. I was with my best friend David when I got the call. My friends and partner are literally the finest, most supportive and loving people I could possibly have in my life. I’m in great medical hands with a surgeon who also operated on several people who are dear to me (and she accepts my insurance!). You see what I’m saying? I got wind beneath my wings. And that’s my point here.

When you hear the C word, it’s so easy to be led by fear, right? But…I don’t feel afraid. Sure, I have a great prognosis, great healthcare and support system. But we know people with all the money in the world and a backache who will perseverate and drown in fear, right? But I am, instead, swimming in love.

I am writing to you, when I felt ready. Your patience with me allowed me to work through my automatic fear reflex that’s been driving me my whole life…to breathe through it. I’ve always felt your good will and I’ll say it…love. I feel carried by love. By the love of my partner, my friends, my family and you, dear reader.

This is likely the last time I’ll write about this diagnosis. Mostly because I don’t want to identify with it. Or rather allow it to identify me. I’m just traveling through this town as I have so many others, but I did want to send you a post card. Let’s see if this world view is entitled or a powerful manifestation. TBD.

Heading over to surgery now at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center – one of the best hospitals of its kind in the world. So much to be grateful for…including this cancer that’s given me some real stakes to practice with. Humbled. I choose love…a slower but more peaceful fuel source that feels way better for my environment.

See you on the other side. 🦅

xo, atoosa

PS - please forgive any misspellings, I’m literally running out to the door to the hospital.

Atoosa Unedited
Atoosa Unedited
When your life gets bat sh*t crazy, I can help.
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