My friends, I am so sad to say: life has thrown a mighty curveball. Since returning home from the first leg of the book tour last Monday, a CT-Scan has revealed that my left ovary has sprouted a massive (22×11 cm) growth that will be removed tomorrow in a 3-4 hour surgery starting at 8:30 am. They will conduct pathology while I’m still on the table to determine the next course of action.

With recovery expected to take at least six weeks, I must cancel all of my book events for October, including: St. Lawrence University, Syracuse University, the Fall for the Book Festival in Virginia, the Southern Festival of Books in Tennessee, and—to my profound regret—the Mohawk Nation of Akwesasne.

As you can imagine, this is evoking a rush of emotions, not least of which is disappointment to be spending my sabbatical in a hospital rather than on a book tour. But I want you all to know that, regardless of outcome, my far overriding emotion is gratitude. Gratitude that I have been able to reconnect with so many of you in such meaningful ways in the past months/years/life. Gratitude that All the Agents and Saints–the creative endeavor that is the summation of my abilities and a decade worth of effort–is finally out in the world. Grateful that I have the insurance/resources to finance this exorbitant medical procedure, and an incredible support team.

Gratitude that, my entire life, I have imagined myself to be running just a few paces ahead of a charging black mortality hole, and that this sensation has propelled me to write and travel as intensely as possible, to give myself entirely to the people and the projects I love, while I could still see firm ground ahead. This all goes to say that, no matter what happens, it is okay. I am crazy privileged/lucky to have done exactly what I hoped/dreamed of with the time I have had here. If I am crazy privileged/lucky enough to be granted more time, it will be cherries on top.

I know that our collective empathy pool is running dry with all the tragedy/uncertainty in the world right now. But if you have a moment to spare, I would so appreciate if, tomorrow morning, you might send a little chant my way:

“Benign, benign, benign. Contained, contained, contained.”

Much love to you all, and see you on the other side.


  1. Diana Lo

    Steph my prayers and positive vibes are with you. It sucks that you have this bump in the road, but with your energy and positivity you got this. Love and Big Higs sent your way!

  2. Cynthia O Perkins

    I have missed you every time you came to Del Mar College, but I will pray all is well and that you are up and touring again soon!
    Best, Cynthia

  3. Beatriz

    Benign! Sending you prayers and healing vibes, Stephanie!

  4. Stephanie: I am a poet in San Antonio, Texas who underwent an unexpected emergency operation on Labor Day & had to cancel many readings locally none quite as impressive and extensive as yours but I feel exactly as you do now….all my best for your speedy & total recovery so that you may fulfill your life’s work unimpeded…May the words “benign” be the first you hear…All is well.

  5. Deb Morgan

    I have begun chanting benign, benign, benign and contained, contained, contained this evening for good measure. You are in our best thoughts, Stephanie. Peace and love – Deb Morgan and Dennis Gittinger

  6. Dennis Gittinger, Deb Morgan's husband n

    Oh, Stephanie! Barbara just told me what’s going on in your life. I have no words, only love.
    You may know that my wife and best friend, Deb Morgan, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer May 16, 2016. Here’s a summary of our lives the last 16 months.

    By Dennis Gittinger to Debra Ann Morgan

    In the early darkness following the Ides of May, Luck was ambushed by The Brute, Diagnosis. The Dagger’s first thrust, “Unfortunately,”
    inflicted the most unkindest cut of all.

    We could only hold hands in stunned silence through rest of the

    “Unfortunately” assassinates the eternally beautiful lie that forever means…for ever.

    But soon after, ordinary days are transformed into great days, as we learn that the only time that really matters…is now.

    Family-and-Friends are quick to bring chicken soup
    and Hallmark cards
    and heartfelt hugs, prayers, tears,
    and words of comfort—
    all good things from so many
    who love you so much.

    What Family-and-Friends mostly bear—through the worst and the best—are Faith and Love.

    And Hope.

    We wage Hope. No matter what.

    Every two weeks, for 48 hours, the cancer-killing cocktail injects life-saving poison perilously close to your heart—which has been my spot since you found me—your beautiful, caring heart which deserves none of this.

    But “deserves” has nothing to do with it.

    We spend two nights lying hand-in-hand, cloaked in the silence broken every one-hundred-eleven seconds by the swoosh of the pump as it infuses collateral damage into your veins. At last, three beeps beckon me to remove the needle, now done delivering the blind dagger designed to kill the bad and the ugly.

    And the good.

    When the cure is more unfortunate than the Diagnosis, the recipe is changed, and you no longer suffer ten bad days to purchase three good days before the cycle begins all over again.

    Instead, you are young and strong and your body repairs itself in record time, and so tonight it’s dinner-and-a-movie.

    But in heavy silence we wonder if the modified cocktail will be enough, or if the deleted drug was what kept hope alive by dragging you to death’s door one fortnight after another.

    Maybe the chronic two-hundred-forty I-feel-like-I’m-dying hours are merely a biweekly Pound-of-Flesh, the bargain price exacted for the precious Chance to witness the conjuring of The Brute’s thus-far-elusive Nemesis: the Cure.

    Maybe that Chance is as-good-as-it-gets, the chance to be made whole, heralded by a much Kinder Cut:



    I’m hoping for beneign and contained…

    LQQKING forward to good news tomorrow!!!

    Peace and love,


  7. Just remember, what doesn’t kill us just makes us stronger.

    And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make…

  8. what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger.

    the love we take is equal to the love we make…

  9. elisa

    Hi Stephanie,
    I just finished reading “Mexican Enough” and came to have a look at your blog.
    I really enjoyed the book, it allowed me to know a lot more than I used to about Mexico (I’m Italian, living in London).

    Best luck for your surgery and get well soon! I’m sure you’ll have a speed recovery and will be able to enjoy the remaining of your sabbatical. Keep us posted; we’ll keep supporting you and waiting for your next brilliant work!


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