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.
Writer and visual artist Chris Rice talks about growing up on the road, traveling between the Bible Belt and Southern California as the oldest of nine children and caretaker of her younger siblings. Witness to the legacy of epigenetic trauma and suffering, Chris became an outsider and observer of the imagined lives she might inhabit in the future. Chris also talks about the healing power of love and the importance of community to protect and foster the vulnerable.
Elizabeth Aquino is writer, disability advocate, and pastry chef. Elizabeth talks about the struggle to understand her own identity as separate from that of her now 22-year-old daughter, Sophie, who is profoundly disabled, as well as how the style in which she writes reflects this fragmentation of identity. Elizabeth also talks about the importance of creativity, what it means to give care to someone until one of you dies, and the questions that this caregiving raises about the value of a life and what it means to be human.
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.
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.
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.
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.