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.
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.
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.
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.
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.