Cover Photo: Illustration of a woman in a magenta swimsuit swimming past sharks in blue water
Illustration by Sirin Thada for Catapult

On Sharks, Sickness, and Swimming Anyway

Nora Feely on cancer, facing her fears by naming them, and navigating a world filled with sharks

Jaws

Jaws

It turned out I wasn’t bad at handling the boat and quickly warmed to the feel of gliding through the waves. Like any good camp counselor, he was clear about the rules. “You have to learn what to do if the kayak flips,” he said. “It’s part of ocean kayak safety.”

Jaws

For months, to lay down put too much pressure on the tumor, so I slept bolstered up on the couch. I started to have shooting pains in my chest at night. When the pain got too intense, I would lean forward, clutch my left side, and try to decide its source. Was it inflammation? Was the tumor shifting in my chest?

Nora Feely is a freelance writer, advocate, and social worker who studied trauma and resilience at the University of Chicago. She is from St. Louis, Missouri, the hallowed birthplace of toasted ravioli, and recently moved to the East Coast. This is her first publication. You can find her on Twitter @nkfeely or over at her blog ButYouLookGreat.net.