Jodi Newson is a registered dietitian in oncology nutrition who works with cancer patients. Jodi talks about the central role that food plays in maintaining our social bonds and how side effects of cancer treatment can disrupt our most cherished ways of showing care. She also talks about being drawn to meaningful work in which she has a positive impact in the lives of her patients and their families and explains how her role often extends beyond nutrition. Jodi also reflects on how she has personally benefitted from the life lessons she has learned while helping others.
Steven Weiss-Smith was 13 years old when his father died of metastatic melanoma. Now 44 years old, the age at which his father passed away, Steve talks about the ways in which his father’s death—and especially his lack of understanding about his father’s illness at the time—has affected him throughout his life. He reflects on the ways in which his professional choices have incorporated ways of trying to get to know the man who he knew only as his father, though the eyes of a child.
Elissa Goodman is a holistic nutritionist, cleanse expert, and author of Cancer Hacks. Following her own experience with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 1992, and her husband’s death 11 years later from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Elissa turned to the study of holistic nutrition as a conduit to healing for herself and her young daughters. That path led her to reinvent herself, and at age 50 she launched a thriving nutrition enterprise. Elissa talks about her belief that we can all participate in our own holistic healing by incorporating a spiritual practice and attending to the body’s nutritional needs by eating whole foods.
Eve Makoff is a palliative care doctor who specializes in working with cancer patients. Eve talks about following her father’s example in choosing medicine as a route to fulfilling life work. Drawn to the intensity of in-patient care, Eve has found professional gratification in learning how to listen to her patients, help them to understand their options, and facilitate their articulation of their goals and needs in their life and death.
Brian Wogensen is a high school English teacher and department chair at a private school for girls in Los Angeles. In 2005, his wife, Liz Ganem, was diagnosed with breast cancer, five weeks after learning that she was pregnant. Seven years after the successful completion of treatment—and the healthy birth of their son—Liz was diagnosed with and treated for a new breast cancer.
Patrick Norris is a television director who in 2003 was diagnosed with Stage III non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. In today’s episode, Patrick recounts the central role his wife, Jody, played in helping him find the right treatment and how he wore the same comforting shirt during each of his chemotherapy treatments. Patrick talks about losing his sobriety of 18 years during chemotherapy, and his subsequent search to find meaning and purpose by connecting with others who are in treatment for cancer and providing them with a measure of comfort and hope.
Cecily Young’s husband, John Ruble, underwent a bone marrow transplant as treatment for leukemia in 2005. Cecily talks about providing for her husband’s wellbeing, as well as that of their young son, during his treatment and recovery. Using the metaphor of herself as a ship’s captain, she envisioned herself as charged with maintaining morale and keeping the everyday concerns of their lives afloat. Cecily also delves into the devastating conflict she experienced with her sister while caring for their mother, as well as the feelings of resentment engendered by the significant professional sacrifices she made as a result of being persistently pressed into service as a reluctant caregiver.
Shannon Murphy, psychotherapist and mindfulness practitioner, was diagnosed in 2007 with breast cancer. She has been cancer free for ten years. Shannon talks about her decision to attend to the emotional aspects of cancer throughout her journey. She recounts speaking with cancer survivors to understand how they coped with the trauma of a cancer diagnosis and its treatment, and to understand how this experience could lead to profound personal change. She also talks about the transformative aspects of this traumatic experience and how facing a mortal danger led to healing of a damaged relationship. She also talks about how the experience strengthened her practice of mindfulness and meditation, leading to transformative personal growth.
Today I’m speaking with Lisa Gainsley, certified massage and lymphedema therapist, who works primarily with cancer patients. Lisa talks about how her journey of exploration—beginning with the academic study of cultural anthropology and religion, her training as a healer in various modalities, and her eventual specialization in the lymphatic system—brought her to the meaningful work of facilitating others in their own healing journey. She also talks about how her mother’s experience with lung cancer and her death when Lisa was 13 years old set her on a path of working with cancer patients as well as her own healing, wellness, and care of self.
How does one maintain routine and regularity when a cancer diagnosis and its treatment threatens to upend life as one knows it?
Today I’m speaking with Charlie Tercek, who in 2010 was diagnosed with and treated for bladder cancer. Charlie talks about the critically important role his family played in taking the lead to find the right care when the route he initially chose did not go as planned. He also reflects on the way that cancer has made him more willing to move on quickly from experiences that don’t work out as expected, how going through the experience together strengthened the bond between him and his wife, and his feelings of gratitude for what he has.