19. How to find joy in hard times with Mary Robinson

Season #1

Mary Robinson and Brenda Winkle grew up in the same small town of Chadron, Nebraska.


They reconnected through social media several years ago and have been in touch since.

Mary recently published her new book, Seed, Stem, Bloom: Lessons from My Faith-Led Journey through CANcer.


Mary is a teacher of the visually impaired and a certified orientation and mobility specialist. She is the mother to four - 2 boys and 2 girls.


Mary was 38 in 2014 and nearly done with a 3-year-long project fundraising for a sensory courtyard for kids with special needs when she started to feel terrible. She was irritable, got short of breath going up the stairs, and had a little sore in her nose. Mary had a sinus infection, and while receiving medical care for the sinus infection, she asked her doctor for bloodwork. The blood work came back as pancytopenia. This is a condition where there is a lower than usual number of red and white blood cells and platelets in the blood. But they didn't know why Mary had pancytopenia. 


The next day an oncologist diagnosed her with acute myeloid leukemia.


Mary was told she had a 50% chance of surviving. Mary knew she was in the 50% who would survive this cancer. She immediately told her husband she was going to survive.  She had a mission to raise her children, to see them into adulthood.

It wasn't easy, but Mary recovered.  Then three years later, she relapsed. At that point. Mary had a stem cell transplant. Mary is now cured and cancer-free.

Mary’s book follows her journey through chemo treatments. It comes from the entries she wrote on Caring Bridge during her time receiving those treatments.


This book isn’t just for cancer patients. It’s for anyone going through a hard time.

Here are the big takeaways from this episode:

  • Listen to your body. When you know something is off, it’s important to get medical care. Even though it can be scary to go to the doctor, not knowing is scarier.
  • It’s not necessary to be positive all the time. It’s ok to feel the big feelings and cry, then find the optimism.
  • Watch for and notice the signs of hope.
  • Guided meditation, deep breathing exercises, daily devotionals, visualizations, positive affirmations, music (Mary’s favorite is upbeat Christian music) all are great tools to use to feel better during tough times.
  • Ask for signs to know God (The Universe, Source, Creator) is with you. Rainbows, heart shaped rocks, whatever makes you happy
  • Find things to intentionally bring yourself joy like scents, sights, and other external stimulation to scaffold joy
  • Be wiling to feel better and feel joy during difficult times, that’s when it’s most important to lean on the self-care strategies
  • Give yourself grace
  • It’s important to give and receive
  • Energy work is connected to source, the higher power 

Link to Feminine Voices Rising Sister Circles

https://www.brendawinkle.com/fvr (FVR = Feminine Voices Rising


Link to Vision Boarding 101



Link to Meditation to Feel Better


About Mary Robinson

  Mary Robinson, M.A. is a warrior. She’s a mom, wife, sister, and daughter. In 2014, this always-on-the-go woman had a diagnosis that not only changed her perspective on life, it deepened her commitment to the one she already had. A bone marrow biopsy confirmed that Mary had acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Relapse in 2017 determined that an allogeneic stem cell transplant was the only option for long-term survival. During her fight for life, Mary was introduced to Reiki and became a Reiki Master/Teacher, which led to becoming a Healing Touch Practitioner.   Mary is the author of Seed, Stem, Bloom: Lessons from My Faith-Led Journey through CANcer. Mary’s story and her life gives hope, reassurance, and sheds light on what an individual can do with an optimistic mindset and faith.