Richard Hoff and Schuyler Ha share the story of their family, including the many logistics they worked out in order to bring their now 10-year-old daughter into being, the consideration they put into the structure and dynamics of their family, and the environment in which their daughter is being raised. They also talk about the gender dynamics at play in their roles as two male parents and how their personal experiences of otherness has helped them to coach their daughter in understanding the social challenges of her hearing loss and wearing hearing aids.
On today’s show I’m speaking with writer Tanya Ward Goodman, author of Leaving Tinkertown. Our conversation examines how she uses her writing practice, which she likens to the process of composting, to learn her mind and understand experience. We discuss how the experience of taking care of her father during his decline from early onset Alzheimer’s disease, which she chronicles in Leaving Tinkertown, allowed her to develop her own identity and question deeply held beliefs. Tanya also talks about what the experience of caring for her father during his illness and death taught her about what it means to live well.
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.
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.
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.