About the Author

This is not the typical bio.  Nor can you expect a typical blog.  But then, I’m not your typical…well, anything. You will discover that, as you start to get to know me and just when you think you have figured me out…

I change direction, I adapt, I move on, I look at life from upside down.

On January 2nd, 2010, I started this blog.  Today it just two days shy of ten years later. It has been a long while since I have written, shared, and I do not even know how to maneuver through this site any longer.  I have much to learn or relearn.

Once, I was told by a friend that I share thoughts, but that I don’t often get into details or the emotion which surrounds them. Since that time, I have shared more about “my story, ” who I am, and how I got to this stage of my life.  As each day, week, month, and year continues to pass, there is so much more for me to discover and to share. We all get to a point in life when we realize that nothing stays the same.

Life changed drastically for me after a series of situations and challenges…

It was January 2009 when I made commitment to live my life doing what I was “intended” to do.  I was not quite sure of what that meant, except that I felt as if I had more choice in the matter.

Eighteen months earlier, I was fired from a job with a non-profit agency for “not being a good fit” just a few days before the end of my probationary period.  In the nearly three months I worked for them, I shared with my boss that I was facing some medical concerns, believing that my honesty would be rewarded with compassion.

The following week, I was working a temporary assignment for a placement agency, and I was diagnosed with Stage 0 Ductal Carcinoma in Situ—breast cancer, albeit early stage.

True to my somewhat control freak nature, I decided to “kick cancer’s ass before it kicked mine.”  I opted for a mastectomy of my right breast three months after my diagnosis, to be followed by a series of procedures and reconstructive surgeries, the final one being in November 2008.

Once the holidays were over and the new year began, I knew that I could not keep going back to jobs or companies where I did not fit, that I did not enjoy, or that sucked the very life out of me.  I had to figure out what my purpose and mission were in this life and go out there and find my way. It took more than 53 years of life for me to get to this point.

In January 2009, I declared that my purpose in life was to:

..Help others to see beyond the challenges they face.

How would I do that?  By being willing and vulnerable to share my story.  By being genuine and true to using the skills that I enjoy using in service to others.  And by realizing that I have no control over whether or not someone is motivated enough to want to make changes in his or her life or whether or not they will do what is necessary to take action.

That declaration changed my life.  I soon found a job where I was paid to:

Talk.  Train.  Coach.  Challenge.  Mentor.  Share.  Serve.

I began with the company in March 2009.  Of course, there were things that were exhausting or frustrating, and there were moments that I wondered if I had made the right decisions. But I knew intuitively that I was finally doing what I was “intended” to do.   And there were plenty of lessons for me to learn.

In the first three years—2009 through 2011—I was presented many challenges for which I was not prepared.  My work became my solace.

  • In July 2009, I was shaken by my friend Sharlona’s murder by her former boyfriend, leaving her two children without a mother.  She was just 33-years-old.
  • In May 2010, I lost my dear friend, Kim, to breast cancer just days before her 42nd birthday. Her son was a toddler when she was diagnosed, and he knew more about cancer four years later than any young child should need to know.
  • In January 2011, three more young children were left behind when my friend, Jeff, died at the age of 31 from esophageal cancer.
  • And then on June 14th that same year, my four siblings and I lost our mother, leaving five more children feeling just as orphaned in our 40s and 50s as we might have felt had we been 4- to 12-years-old.

The following year began, dealing with some of the sadness of the past…

but there was a sense of hope for 2012.

In mid-April, I had to call my boss to let her know at the last minute I would be unable to make a road trip to facilitate a workshop I was scheduled to teach.  I do not call-in “sick,” as a contractor.  But I knew something was wrong and went to the emergency room where I received some troubling news.  For the next four weeks, I was at a loss for what to feel in facing my fears, as I was poked, prodded, examined and scanned.

On May 15th, 2012, at the age of 56, I learned of my Stage IV diagnosis with Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs)/Carcinoid Cancer.  The doctor, whom I refer to as “The Lunatic Colonel” (Lt. Col. T.A.B.) uttered the words, “…six months to a year; two, if you’re lucky…”   (Note: I celebrated my 63rd birthday on August 10, 2018.)

The following four weeks were likely the toughest of my life, with a grave sense of my mortality and the challenges of dealing initially with a well-respected doctor whose ego got in the way of judgment, as I started asking questions and asked to see specialists who were more knowledgeable.  (You can read more about that in the blog entries from April to June 2012.)

I had surgery with a team of specialists from the University of Washington Medical  Center on June 21st.  They performed a partial resection of both my small intestines and my liver.  I spent the final six months of 2012 trying to learn more, and then wrap my head around the knowledge of what I might face, learning to live with a Stage IV cancer diagnosis, and what that means to me  and the people around me.

I’m not quite one ever really wraps his or her head around how to be “okay” enough to live with a stage 4 cancer diagnosis.  But that is part of the story that always seems to be left to be discovered and evolves as the story is told.

My biggest fear is that what I say will make some so uncomfortable that they will walk away.

Life isn’t always pretty, let’s face it.

I promise you that I will share my thoughts and experiences as honestly as I know how.  I won’t do that with few words, as you have probably discovered by now.  I’m not a woman of few words.

I am extroverted, articulate, outgoing, and have an irreverent sense of humor.  I like to laugh and banter. I can be tough as nails, sassy, feisty, bold, and intense.  I will challenge you, but never without challenging myself first.

If you stick around and come back often, you will also discover me to be complex.  That doesn’t mean that I am complicated, though you may see it that way.  But if you look beyond that complexity, you will see the side of me that is soft-hearted, sensitive,  introspective,  and deeply yearning for insightful conversation.

This blog is not just about me, but is about LIFE.

It is about other people and the connections I make with those whose paths cross mine and what I learn from people along the way.

My vision is, that by sharing what I have experienced or what I continue to learn in life, others will be able to make some sense of their own lives, and vice versa. I do not have the right answers for anyone other than myself as I am able to figure out what I need to do for me.  I will always encourage you in the discovery of the right answers for you.

Feel free to share your comments on any post.  I love good dialogue.  You are welcome to share this site with others.  The more, the merrier!  We’ll make it a party!

And for those of you who decide to “go the distance” with me, thank you for walking alongside me on the adventures that life’s journey will take us.

And together,  we will think, look, see and LIVE…

…beyond life’s challenges.

With my deepest gratitude…I wish you love, peace, joy and laughter.

Coral –

Update:  December 31, 2020

I am still here! I’ve just been remiss in keeping up with my blog. Life seems to run away with you when you’re living it! That being said…

I want to continue to challenge myself and the people around me to THINK beyond.  And I continue to LIVE each day with cancer, not die from it. Yet, I find that age of 65 (as of August 2020), I am becoming much more reflective, and willing to tell some of the toughest stories of my journey through life.  It starts by facing some ugly truths head on.

Thanks to all of you who continue to read, respond,  and encourage me to keep looking and living beyond the challenges. Please continue to share this message with others in your lives.

Thank you for hanging in there with me!

💖 Coral

33 thoughts on “About the Author

  1. Coral – saw your comment on the Zebra Zone. I go to SCCA as well. Live south of Seattle. Just an FYI — almost all of us with carcinoid are stage IV. A stage IV diagnosis means very little to those of us with NETS since almost all of us have the cancer found after it has spread. I was Dx in Sept of 2008. Will read your blog entries to better understand your Dx and your treatment (Tx). If I can be of help send me an email gmurfin@covad.net. Best regards, gary murfin

    1. Thank you for reaching out, Gary. It’s what we all must do to raise awareness and hope in finding a cure for this damned disease called, “Cancer.” And so, the journey continues!

  2. Awesome! It took me a while to learn all of the do-dads on this site. I think it was because there was so much to learn so soon. I am quite at home with the techno stuff now. Good luck on your journey and with all that it holds. Cheers.

    1. Thanks, Barbara, for your kind words and support of me. Socrates said that he “could not teach anyone anything, but could only make them think.” Perhaps, that is what we have always been intended to do…think. I, for too long, stuck my head in the sand, not wanting to look or think or do. I guess there’s no time like now, eh? 😉

  3. Pingback: TRUST 101: Initial Lessons, part 1 | Beyond Life's Challenges

    1. Thank you, Jodi, for your kind words. I’m not sure how I missed this comment and apologize for doing so.

      I’m not sure what this Liebster Award is and how it all works/ed. But I thank you!!!

  4. melinda Sheffield

    I enjoyed reading THIS!!! Yep, Yep F-the Monster!! I’m living, living, living, until I can’t anymore! Just bought a lake house (sure hope I won’t need that retirement money). Nope, I’m enjoying life NOW!!!

  5. Pingback: A Writer, Storyteller, and LIFE…one year later | Beyond Life's Challenges

    1. Thank you, Bill, for your kind words. I really do not see it as much of a “struggle.” It is what LIFE has given to me, and certainly has influenced my approach! Or maybe, I have always been this way, and life just helped me perfect it? 😉

  6. sandy

    You’re one of the best writers online. I discovered you on pp. Your writings touch a nerve and never bore.

    Just wanted to share that a blogger who owns “good enough mother” had a similar dismissal experience with a major news station and turned things around with blogging and vlogging. Check her out and I hope you two could connect. I think you’d like her.

    Please keep sharing your stories. I wish you the best with your writing goals.

    Thank you.

  7. Joe H

    Hi Coral, I’m a developer for the 1000 Mile Challenge. Recently Scott asked me to help out with a customer service request. That led me to noticing your blog. Just wanted to join in on cheering you on in your pursuits. Thanks for your inspiring messages 🙂

    1. Thank you, Joe (and Scott), for sharing here! I appreciate it when someone shares. I simply feel that we must all learn to be vulnerable and real, and tell our stories. We all have them. None of us are very different in this world, I don’t think. Again…thank you. 🙂

  8. None of what you wrote here surprises me, but rather fills in some blanks in what I’ve gleaned from your posts on other sites. I’m glad you have decided to share your journey in one place where readers can follow your story in order and walk with you as you keep moving. But I still miss you in those other places.

    1. Thanks, Barb. I have always shared, but not all care to read or want to know. I miss some of of the other places, too, but moreso the places that do not exist any longer.

  9. Pingback: Six years and counting… – BEYOND THE CHALLENGES OF LIFE


    Thank you for sharing your cancer journey with all of us. You’re amazing in talking about your experiences, good and bad. Your blogs inspire alot ot cancer patients including myself.

    I was diagnosed with liver metastasis with neuroendocrine tumors of both sides of liver on March 27, 2014. Also, spread to lymph nodes.
    I have a female oncologist, Dr. Katherine Martin in Puyallup. I had SIRT at Capital Medical Center in summer 2014 to shrink liver tumors. It wasn’t significant in my case.
    So, we kept monitoring every 4 months and then a 6 month stretch from July 2016 – January 2017. I finally spoke up and asked Dr. Martin “Is there anything we could do about getting rid of these tumors?” NOTE: 2 out of the 3 years, Dr. Martin never said anything about a liver surgeon who she takes cases to a tumor board to discuss with a multidisciplinary team of doctors, etc. First off, I am sorry to hear about your bad medical report that then, LTC Dr. Tommy Brown relayed and uttered the words about a 6 – one year, two – of you’re lucky prognosis. His character was in poor taste.

    Dr. Martin named the liver surgeon, Dr. Tommy Brown. The past 3 years, Dr. Brown works as a surgical oncologist at Franciscan Surgical Associates at St. Joseph’s in Tacoma. He has his own practice there. My experience with Dr. Brown has been amazing. I believe going from military hospital to civilian hospital changes a person’s character with more knowledge over the years. I had surgery exactly 3 years since first diagnosed. Dr. Brown and his surgical team are AMAZING!!! Dr. Brown is very kind, caring and compassionate. Before being referred to Dr. Brown, we never knew where the primary source of the cancer originated.

    Long story short. I was going to have 40 % of my liver removed to remove both tumors on both sides and the lymph nodes plus gallbladder and large gallstone. Dr. Brown told me he was going to look in other areas for the primary source. During surgery, Dr. Brown found cancer of the stomach and the primary source in the duodenum. (small intestine)

    I am 21 months post surgery exactly today, 11/27 with no evidence of metastasis disease in my abdomen. I am very thankful and forever grateful to have Dr. Tommy Brown as my surgical oncologist. He’s the best surgeon around in my opinion. I would recommend Dr. Tommy Brown to everyone as I posted a good review on his Healthgrades. Kudos to him.

    I wish you the very best in your cancer journey and congrats on making it to 6 years. I am 54 years old and celebrated my birthday on August 30. I hope to read more of your blogs to get to know you better, Coral. Take care! God Bless You!!!


    Thank you for sharing your cancer journey with all of us. You’re amazing in talking about your experiences, good or bad. Your blogs inspire alot of cancer patients including myself.

    I plan on reading more of your blogs to get to know you alot better. Keep up the fight in keeping us posted along the way.

    Please personal e-mail me at
    I have something to share with you.
    You’re the BEST!!!

  12. vickielipski

    Hello Coral!!! Thank you for sharing your cancer journey with all of us. You’re a truly amazing, courageous and strong woman.

    I hope to get to know more about you in reading more of your posts. I regret my comments about T.A.B. to you and sincere apology for being insensitive. How are you doing these days? Best wishes to you always!!!

  13. Coral, your story is an inspiration and your writing is phenomenal.
    This really hit home for me.
    “My vision is, that by sharing what I have experienced or what I continue to learn in life, others will be able to make some sense of their own lives, and vice versa.”
    We all face our own day-to-day struggles. The fact that you are reaching out to help others in their time of need, despite your current health situation, tells me your heart is open and full of compassion.
    I wish you well and I look forward to learning more about you.

    Peace and love,


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