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Episode 64: To Be Continued (Part II)

Continue listening to Ira's story as host Sarah Paul continues their conversation, exploring the profound emotional support and life changes following his cancer diagnosis. In the second part of this episode, Ira opens up about the vast network of support that buoyed him through his treatment—from family and friends to medical teams and support groups. He emphasizes the invaluable role of CancerCare's individual counseling and support groups in providing specialized guidance and a sense of community. As Ira discusses his return to work and the adjustments he's made in his life and career, his story serves as a powerful testament to the strength found in vulnerability and the importance of advocacy in one's cancer journey. Tune in to hear how Ira's journey through cancer has reshaped his perspective on life and his approach to living it.

Key Takeaways
• Leverage the power of community, from personal connections to professional groups, to navigate the cancer journey more effectively.
• Engage with specialized counseling and support groups to address the unique emotional challenges of living with cancer.
• Be open to adjusting life and work commitments to accommodate the realities of ongoing cancer treatment and recovery.
• Continuously advocate for yourself within the healthcare system to ensure your needs are met, especially when dealing with insurance and treatment options.
• Embrace life more fully and prioritize relationships and personal fulfillment over professional obligations.

Disclaimer: This two-part episode was recorded over the past several months. As a result, the timeline of some events and experiences shared by Ira may not reflect the most recent developments in his journey.

Episode 63: To Be Continued (Part I)

In the upcoming episode of Cancer Out Loud, host Sarah Paul, CancerCare's Senior Director of Social Work, sits down with Ira to delve deeper into his journey battling stomach cancer. This first part of a special two-part series captures Ira's raw and detailed account from the onset of symptoms to the complexities of treatment and the life-altering changes he faced. Ira openly discusses his emotional rollercoaster, the physical toll of chemotherapy and the support he received from health care professionals and CancerCare support programs. As he navigates through his diagnosis, multiple consultations and surgical decisions, Ira's story highlights the importance of advocacy, resilience and the search for hope amidst adversity. Tune in to hear how Ira's story unfolds, shedding light on the real challenges and decisions faced by those living with cancer.

Key Takeaways
• Understand the importance of self-advocacy in medical treatment, learning from Ira’s proactive approach in seeking multiple opinions and choosing treatment paths.
• Explore strategies for managing the profound emotional impacts of cancer, as Ira shares how he dealt with despair and found his fighting spirit.
• Recognize the critical role of comprehensive support, from medical teams to social workers and family, in navigating the cancer journey.
• Gain insights into the decision-making process for cancer treatment, emphasizing informed consent and understanding of treatment implications.

Disclaimer: This two-part episode was recorded over the past several months. As a result, the timeline of some events and experiences shared by Ira may not reflect the most recent developments in his journey.

Episode 62: A New Life Motto: Why Not?

In the next episode of Cancer Out Loud, host and oncology social worker, Sarah Paul has a candid conversation with Jessica Engelhart, who shares her personal experience with colon cancer. Jessica discusses the challenges she faced during her treatment and recovery post-surgery and the importance of mental health support during this time. She provides insights into how her background as a therapist helped her cope with the anger and anxiety that came with her diagnosis, utilizing coping techniques such as journaling, mindfulness and engaging with her exercise community. Tune in to hear more about Jessica’s story and the resources she found helpful during her journey.

Key Takeaways
• Utilize coping techniques such as journaling, mindfulness, and breathing exercises to manage the emotional and psychological aspects of a cancer diagnosis.
• Explore mental health support and/or support groups to connect with others who are going through similar experiences.
• Avoid relying on the portrayal of cancer in the media, as it often focuses on negative outcomes and can create unnecessary fear and anxiety.
• Be mindful of the terminology used to describe cancer, as terms like 'battle' and 'warrior' can be misleading and place unnecessary pressure on individuals.
• Build a strong support system of friends, family, and healthcare professionals who can provide emotional and practical support throughout the cancer journey.
• Take care of your mental and emotional well-being by setting boundaries, practicing self-care, and seeking professional help when needed.
• Focus on the present moment and prioritize activities that bring joy and fulfillment, as life is precious and unpredictable.

Episode 61: Learning to Hear My Voice

Meet Malissa Matthews, a mother, a wife and a woman of faith. Malissa was diagnosed with a very rare type of endometrial cancer in 2023. Julia Manna, LMSW, an oncology social worker at CancerCare, speaks with Malissa about the challenges Malissa faced in her career due to treatment as well as the importance of having a supportive network. Malissa emphasizes the significance of maintaining a positive attitude and finding empowerment in the face of a terminal diagnosis. She encourages individuals to trust their own voice and seek second opinions when necessary. Malissa also highlights the importance of understanding different types of cancer and the need for counseling and support programs.

Episode 60: The Realities of Cancer Caregiving

In this episode, we delve into the often-unseen world of cancer caregiving. Join us as we interview CancerCare’s Caregiver Program Coordinator Dina Smith, LMSW, exploring the multifaceted challenges and emotional experiences faced by those caring for loved ones diagnosed with cancer. We discuss practical issues, emotional tolls, family dynamics and the evolving nature of the caregiving role. This episode offers valuable insights and resources for cancer caregivers, shedding light on their vital role in the cancer experience. Tune in to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for these unsung heroes in cancer care.

Episode 59: There Is No Us, Without Them

In this episode, Mike and Nancy open up about the profound impact of losing their spouses and the unforeseen journey of healing that followed. Join us as they recount their experiences at CancerCare's Healing Hearts Family Bereavement Camp, a place they never imagined would place a pivotal role in their paths towards recovery. Joined by Kathy Nugent, CancerCare's Senior Director of Regional Programs, we hear about how Healing Hearts shaped Mike and Nancy's experience.

They speak candidly about the challenges and nuances of blending their lives and supporting their young daughters through this complex process. This conversation offers an honest and raw look into navigating grief, finding strength in vulnerability and building a new family from a place of shared understanding and resilience. Listen in for a genuine and heartfelt exploration of life, loss and the unexpected forms that healing can take.

Episode 58: What the Grief? Part II

In the second part of this episode, oncology social worker Lucia continues her conversation around grief with two former members of her Bereavement Support Group, Jay and Lou. After being with their wives for upward of 30 years, they share their journeys of loss, moving forward and survival. Join us for an episode exploring the evolving nature of grief and the crucial role of a support system; a raw look at love, loss and healing.

Episode 57: What the Grief? Part I

Cancer Out Loud returns this summer to share new stories of hope and resilience. In the first part of this heartfelt episode, oncology social worker Lucia brings together two former members of her Bereavement Support Group, Susan and Mary, to share their experiences navigating grief and loss after the death of their husbands. They touch on the universality of loss and yet the profoundly personal journey of bereavement. With Lucia guiding their conversation, they delve into the complexities of healing, the importance of support systems and the strength they found in unexpected places. Tune in for this intimate exploration of grief that illuminates the tragedy of loss, the power of resilience and where to find glimmers of hope.

Episode 56: Without CancerCare

March is National Social Work Month and an opportunity to reflect on the positive impact that CancerCare’s services have had on the oncology community. For our Season 6 finale and the three year anniversary of the Cancer Out Loud Podcast launch, we take a closer look at what it means to be an oncology social worker at CancerCare. Listen in as earlier podcast guests share their sentiments of what it would be like without the support of CancerCare. Cancer Out Loud will return later this spring for Season 7.

Episode 55: Speaking Up Can Save Your Life

Before her cancer diagnosis, Valarie worked in human resources. After being diagnosed with both multiple myeloma and breast cancer, Valarie’s life took a different path - one of advocacy and patient education. As her goals shifted, she focused on educating others about the disease, while shedding light on health inequities. In the penultimate episode of Season 6, Valarie shares how advocating for herself led to empowering others to find their voice.

Episode 54: The Power of Multiple Truths

When Judy was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer almost a decade ago, many emotions ran through her mind: shock, fear, disbelief and curiosity. Judy, a research scientist by trade, wanted to know more about her diagnosis and was disappointed by the lack of literature and research available. Join us for a story of hope, perseverance and gratitude, as Judy shares the highs and lows of navigating a rare cancer diagnosis.

Episode 53: A Portal to Gratitude

Healing looks different for everyone. Often, the expressive arts can create an outlet to understand and process difficult emotional experiences - this includes creative writing, music, crafting, painting, etc. This episode takes a deeper dive into the different tools that can be used to cope with a cancer diagnosis. Listen in as Chris speaks with her oncology social worker, Sara, about the challenges she has faced throughout her cancer experience. Chris is no stranger to gratitude and her story is one that many can relate to- in Chris’ words, “Just know you can ride these waves, but you will find your feet on the shore again - it’s always possible.”

Episode 52: Learning to Pivot

A cancer diagnosis is incredibly disruptive and unpredictable. At the time her 32-year-old husband was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer, Whitney was starting a doctoral program while building her private therapy practice. Whitney is no stranger to the world of chronic illness as she has managed her own for many years. With her husband’s diagnosis, she learned to take on a different role all together. Join us as Whitney shares her experience as a young adult caregiver and what it has been like to navigate the emotional rollercoaster of the past 16 months.

Episode 51: A Light in the Dark

Meet Kris, a stage III chondrosarcoma survivor, avid golfer and skier, father, and husband. In this episode, Kris speaks with his social worker Nikki about how he navigated his diagnosis and hemipelvectomy. This surgery resulted in removing his left pelvis, hip, and leg. Kris has experienced many ups, downs, and in-betweens. Throughout it all, he remains determined, focusing on living life moment by moment and filling his days with joy and love. Listen in as Kris finds light shining through in the darkest of places.

Episode 50: It’s a Marathon Not a Sprint

Just before Lindsay’s 40th birthday, she was diagnosed with a rare, advanced cancer. Pre-diagnosis, Lindsay was a marathon runner, an avid traveler and a bit of a workaholic. Listen in as Lindsay shares with host Sarah Paul how she advocated for answers, underwent a life-changing surgery and is now learning to navigate survivorship.

Episode 49: Cancer Is Not Just a Six Letter Word

In the opening episode of Season 6, we meet Kouichi. A passionate father, environmental activist, editor and a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma survivor. Listen in as Kouichi speaks with his oncology social worker, Cassie, about navigating his cancer experience. Kouichi shares a passionate story of hope, survivorship and the power of fatherhood.

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