I’m Diane McDaniel, and on today’s show we are talking about Mother’s Day, a celebration to honor one’s mother, motherhood, and the influence of mothers and maternal figures in society.
This crowdsourced episode includes ten different voices–Cynthia Boxrud, Louis Browning, Philippe Browning, Anna Chi, Catherine Davidson, Rory Green, Jessica McCrea, Diane McDaniel, Debi Pomerantz, and Abigail Wald–reflecting on what they are thinking about on this Mother’s Day.
REAL is now on hiatus. We’ll be back on January 2, 2018, with more stories adversity, resilience, creativity, and transformation. This episode is a sneak peek of some of the stories on which we are currently working:
As 2018 approaches, we’re thinking about for the New Year, and so we’ll start the year with an episode on that. Let me know if you’d like to contribute your thoughts.
I spoke with Tanya Ward Goodman about her book Leaving Tinkertown, how writing about real people affects your understanding of them, developing an individual artistic vision, and writing about Alzheimer’s disease.
Richard Hoff and Schuyler Ha came into the studio to share what it’s like to be two men raising a daughter, some of the questions that they’ve encountered about their family, and how their own experiences with difference have helped them teach their daughter about how to think about her differences.
Carole Yu shared with me how she and her young daughters endured the death of her husband in 2007, how the national organization Camp Kesem helped the girls feel normal and connected despite their loss, and the paths each member of the family took to chart individual futures in which they could thrive.
Roger Freeman and Alexandra Decas are members of The Dinner Party, a national community of mostly 20- and 30-somethings who’ve each experienced significant loss. Our conversation explores how connecting intimately with strangers who have similarly experienced loss has allowed each of them to address their feelings of isolation and learn how to live with and speak about their profound loss. They also talk about the role of humor at Dinner Party tables, how they each seek joy in their lives, and the confounding issue of helping men—who have been trained to hide any weakness—to show up and feel safe.
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.
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.
Father’s Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. To mark the day we’re doing a special extra episode of 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 sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers reflecting on what they are thinking about on this Father’s Day.
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.
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.