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.
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 speak with Evan Handler, actor, author, and advocate for cancer patient care. Best known for his roles in Sex and the City and Californification, Evan was diagnosed with and underwent treatment for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in 1985, when he was 24 years old. After a two-year remission, Evan had a cancer recurrence. He received a bone marrow transplant in 1988, which he credits for saving his life. Evan wrote about his experience in the book, Time on Fire: My Comedy of Terrors, which originated, in more condensed form, as an off-Broadway one-man show.
In this episode we talk about Evan’s encounter with cancer, which has with faded with time but remains the defining event of his life. Evan shares what he learned from his own experience of navigating a bewildering, often inaccessible world of medical information as well as a medical system and procedures that seemed centered on priorities other than patient care. He also talks about his motivation for undergoing harsh treatment for cancer when his odds of survival were very low.