Cynthia Lim is author of the forthcoming memoir, Wherever You Are, which chronicles her journey after her husband suffered a cardiac arrest, resulting in brain injury. Cynthia talks about the challenges she faced to help her husband achieve a good quality of life, her determination to maintain normalcy for their sons, and what she misses from her relationship with her husband prior to his disability. She also talks about how writing has helped her to understand her experience and also how painful it was to re-read her journals as she wrote her memoir.
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.
Rhoda Makoff received her PhD in Biochemistry in 1961 when she was 23 years old. Our conversation explores how Rhoda developed an interest in science and how she built a successful career in academic research, teaching, and business despite the continual roadblocks that she encountered as a woman who envisioned a major career. Rhoda reflects on the principles that have guided her resilience and persistence in achieving her goals, including the importance of keeping your eyes on the prize and developing an egoless style of leadership.
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.
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.
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.