Somewhere Before & After: Schrödinger’s Cancer

09/28/2020 By Ellis Emerson

Ellis defined the space between when you had testing and biopsies done and when you finally get results as Schrödinger’s Cancer. The Gryt Health team is republishing and resharing this piece on August 13, 2022, as we remember and honor Ellis’ life with a Virtual Celebration of Life. Ellis Emerson (1985-2022)


Hey everyone. 

So last year, I read, well, I wrote, and then I read a piece about things that are worse than dying because I feel like a lot of times we take ourselves way too seriously, but I’ve kind of been obsessed with this new idea, and that idea is that space after maybe tests are run, or biopsies are done but before but before you have a diagnosis. 

I’m referring to that space as Schröedinger’s Cancer, in which you both have cancer and yet do not have cancer. So, that’s sort of what really frames the piece that I’m going to read for you today. I’m just really obsessed with this idea lately.

 I’m calling it Somewhere Before and After.


Let me start with a spoiler, 

We’re all gonna die. 

I know, right?! 

I was living my life without this knowledge too. 

October 23rd, 9:30 am. 

There’s the moment after a biopsy but before the results. 

Cancer purgatory in which I both have cancer and do not yet have cancer. 

Schrödinger’s cancer, both living and dying simultaneously. 

October 30th, 5:17 pm.


Do you know how many cinnamon rolls I justified eating just because I have cancer?! 

A lot! 

Except I’m not a death row inmate planning my last meal, 

and I have to find a way to live in the space between living and dying. 

Not as an excuse but as permission. 

You spend a lot of time on pause for someone whose life suddenly has a big question mark at the end. 

You’d think living would hurry up for those dying, but it doesn’t. 

It just waits.

Ellis Emerson (1985-2022) transitioned on April 29, 2022, at age 36, after facing Stage IV Melanoma for four years. Her zest for life was contagious, admired, and shared with all who knew her, but especially by her daughter, Andie, and her husband, Dave Craig. Ellis had a love for words, writing, running, diversity, inclusion, and equality. She embraced life and those who shared in her life. She is missed by all who knew and loved her as well as the entire Gryt Health team.

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