The fear that patients and their loved ones experience is one of the most difficult aspects of a cancer diagnosis. In addition to managing the fear of death, how do cancer patients with kids cope with the fear that their children will lose a parent?
Today I’m speaking with Marissa Weiss, mother, teacher, and dancer, who in 2016 was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy and reconstruction as part of her complex cancer treatment. Marissa talks about dealing with the overwhelming fear that her young children might grow up without their mother and how her husband’s sense of humor and the laughter they shared served an antidote to the terror they experienced throughout the process. Marissa also reflects on the very personal decision to have a double mastectomy and how she has coped with trauma by being in the moment, making meaning, and finding purpose in her cancer experience.
Receiving a cancer diagnosis and undergoing treatment can quickly put one’s life out of balance. How can one endeavor to find equilibrium while facing extreme fear and trauma, as well as undergoing harsh but potentially life-extending therapies and treatments?
Today I’m speaking with Cindy Fraser, artist, writer, and teacher, who leads a yoga class for people living with cancer and chronic illnesses. Cindy talks about yoga’s usefulness as a tool to help us navigate our lives, in particular when dealing with something as overwhelmingly frightening and traumatic as cancer and its treatment. She also discusses the grounding of her work in the Chinese philosophy of Daoism (Taoism), seeking balance within ebb and flow, and the guiding principles of simplicity, compassion, and patience.
Mother’s Day is a celebration to honor one’s mother, motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. To mark the day we’re doing something different for the Real Cancer podcast.
Unlike other episodes, this one doesn’t focus specifically on cancer and it doesn’t feature a conversation with a single individual. Rather, this crowdsourced episode includes the voices of nine mothers reflecting on what they are thinking about on this Mother’s Day.
A cancer diagnosis and its aftermath reverberate throughout a family. Relationships between members change as the entire family system is affected. How does a family cope when one of its members does not survive the illness?
Today, I speak with Carmen Osornio, whose sister, Ivonne, died in 2016 of metastatic cervical cancer. Carmen talks about the vital leadership role her sister played as the eldest child in this immigrant family and the impact of Ivonne’s decline and eventual death on their close-knit extended family. Carmen discusses the support and coping strategies that she and her family depended upon during her sister’s illness, as well as her decision to focus on caring for the wellbeing of Ivonne’s young son during his mother’s decline and after her death. Carmen also considers how this experience led to a renewed commitment to attending to her own health, mustering the courage to follow through on her life goals, and her pledge to demonstrate love and caring to those in her life.
Today, I speak with Evan Handler, actor, author, and advocate for cancer patient care. Best known for his roles in Sex and the City and Californification, Evan was diagnosed with and underwent treatment for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in 1985, when he was 24 years old. After a two-year remission, Evan had a cancer recurrence. He received a bone marrow transplant in 1988, which he credits for saving his life. Evan wrote about his experience in the book, Time on Fire: My Comedy of Terrors, which originated, in more condensed form, as an off-Broadway one-man show.
In this episode we talk about Evan’s encounter with cancer, which has with faded with time but remains the defining event of his life. Evan shares what he learned from his own experience of navigating a bewildering, often inaccessible world of medical information as well as a medical system and procedures that seemed centered on priorities other than patient care. He also talks about his motivation for undergoing harsh treatment for cancer when his odds of survival were very low.