Cancer + Anniversary = Cancerversary

We talk about cancer anniversaries and how we celebrate.

  • Diagnosis is a pretty arbitrary date: it’s way after you STARTED being sick, and way before you are DONE being sick-- it’s a celebration of discovering what’s wrong with us?

  • Mourn your 1.0 self and life -- ceremony or a formal remembrance/farewell can be useful.

  • Maybe your celebration is forgetting about it.

  • Some people don’t feel safe enough to celebrate -- the chance of recurrence.

  • Cancerversaries can be a reminder of how your options have become limited.

  • Schedule exams on your cancerversary -- (Leanna gets a mammogram on her diagnosis anniversary--NOT an annual mastectomy).

  • Use your cancerversary to mourn those who’ve died.

  • Statistics mean something, but they might not mean anything FOR YOU --don’t hide behind the statistics.

  • Get ready to be nervous -- planning for the future and figure out what’s next.

  • Beware of your teenage self: she might have ambitions beyond your old wet damp dishrag of an adult self.

  • Think about what you are celebrating: the future and the amazing YOU!

  • Take comfort in the “vague” and “abstract,” because that’s how it comes sometimes.

  • The cake is a lie, or "your promised reward is merely a fictitious motivator"--tomorrow is not promised, so enjoy every day, not just the milestones.

Cancer Podcast Intersections

We are joined by five other cancer podcasters to talk about talking about cancer! Check them out, and we will be back later this year with season 3.

  • The Intersection of Cancer and Life with gem Emily Garnett

  • DJ Breast Cancer Tina Conrad

  • The CanSurvivor with Kelsey Smith

  • Cancer Casually Lindsay DeLong

  • But You Don’t Look Sick with Kelsey Bucci

Self Care During Cancer Treatment

We discuss our strategies and self-care routines through treatment.

  • Yoga, stretching, or biking

  • Gardening

  • Do some art: painting, writing, etc

  • Eat extra well

  • Find your witchy brew: B complex, magnesium, turmeric, activated charcoal, etc

  • Massage, manicure and pedicure (don’t let them cut your cuticles)

  • Get some strengthening nail polish (Leanna’s mom liked the Hard As Nails stuff)

  • Sleep is a big deal--try restricting your sleep hours and only getting in bed when you are ready to fall asleep

  • Look into a digital detox, including social media

  • Be open to taking drugs, and be open to stopping drugs

  • Imagine this as a spa treatment if you can

  • Graciously accept help

  • Do something you’ve never done before

Existential Angst

We discuss the big questions: who am I now, why am I here, and what does it all mean?

  • Cancer doesn’t just require you to change once—it’s constant adaptation.

  • Check if any of your survival strategies have turned against you.

  • Try to sit with the idea that existence is enough, and if that fails, we are pretty sure going to Spain is the answer.

Plastic Surgery After Breast Cancer

We talk about the surgical options after breast cancer and our experiences.

  • Try to clarify surgical options early on: what’s the best possible, what’s the worst possible, what’s the probable middle? Manage your expectations as much as you can.

  • Know your options. For mastectomy, that’s flat, implants, flap (tram or diep), nipple reconstruction, etc.

  • Fat grafting covers a multitude of divots and creases.

  • Know your risks and what you value (looks, function, scars).

  • What’s your backup fat plan? (ie know what your surgery entails).

  • Nipple tattoos: not like a normal tattoo--kind of a high end prison tattoo—and fade quickly.

  • You can’t feel when your mastectomied boob pops out--so you you have to look with your eyes.

  • Surgeries are going to be a pyramid: major and big at the beginning, and smaller and more delicate at the end.

  • Love your plastic surgeon.

  • Talk to someone who has been through your surgery and find pictures.

  • Aphrodite Reborn and Reconstructing Aphrodite are nice post-breast cancer photo books.

  • Silicon bandaids are reusable and help with scarring and healing.

  • Use microbead pillows to get comfortable.

Informed Consent

We talk about informed consent, what it means, and if it’s even possible.

  • Leanna doesn't’ know when women got the vote: she thought it was 1912, but it was 1920. Less than 100 years ago. Bananas!

  • Informed consent can feel like a rubber stamp: “this is what I have to do to get the treatment I need.”

  • Doctors have to tell you common and serious risks, but they do not get granular.

  • If you are interested in detailed information, you have to ask.

  • Ask ‘What happens if I don’t get treatment?”

  • Ask “How long do I have to decide?”

  • Part of informed consent is getting answers to your satisfaction.

  • Informed consent is a matter of trust in the process/system/doctors.

  • Look it up yourself: understand as much as you can.

Testicular Cancer with A Ballsy Sense of Tumor

Justin Birckbichler from A Ballsy Sense of Tumor is here to teach us all about testicular cancer. For all your TC education needs, as well as all the ball puns you can handle, follow A Ballsy Sense of Tumor on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

** Testicular cancer is almost always curable… IF you find it early and get treatment.

** Everyone should know how to do a testicular self exam, whether for yourself or for a partner.

** Talk about your health, men— especially young men who are more likely to get testicular cancer!!

** Share your story, for yourself and for the next generation of patients.

Cancer's Weird

It’s our weirdest episode yet talking about cancer weirdness.

  • Cancer is weird and it makes you weird--you’ll do weird things

  • Cancer pushes you out to the ends of the bell curve--out to the extremes

  • You are liberated to embrace your weird--no shame in the game

  • Cancer treatment is weird--chemo drugs, radiation

  • Find your fringe folk

  • You can weaponize your weird if that’s your thing

  • Other people will work out their weirdness on you because you are a lesson now

  • There’s no hiding it and you have to look at your weird

  • Realize that everyone is fucking weird--cancer just takes away your illusion of normal

  • Lean into the weird and start something new

Moving on from Cancer

We discuss what it means to “move on” after cancer treatment.

  • There is no timeline or flowchart for how to “move on”

  • It’s definitely time to move on when there is no other choice

  • You always have to think about cancer logistics (insurance, cancer treatment centers, etc)

  • It’s common to wonder what you could or should do--you can feel stuck

  • You get to choose to disclose or not--tell people if it’s comfortable and if it comes up

  • Show people your cancer--put it out there to someone

  • Leave while you are still having fun at the partys

What Cancer Taught Me

We talk about what we learned about ourselves during the cancer treatment process.

  • You get to know your unique body. Mimi has a crazy heart —which we all could have guessed by listening to her. (HAHAHAHHA!)

  • Bask in and enjoy all the love and caring from people who want to help you.

  • We should eat what our body needs instead of the calories provided by the traditional American diet.

  • Wants vs. needs can become very clear. #cancerclarity

  • The human body is fucking amazing HEALING ITSELF and MOVING AROUND. <3<3<3

  • Exercise as if you will get cancer.

  • You can find what you love best about you, like your great sense of humor.

  • You realize how much you control your own experience through your thoughts and actions.

  • Try to squint your eyes and adjust to the dark because you are the only one who can find the victories and find your way back to the light.

  • Hone the weaponized awkwardness if that’s your thing.

Cancer Guilt

We are back to talk about the guilt and shame that inexplicably comes along with the cancer.

  • There is no escaping the guilt and shame—deal with it now or later

  • You will have survivor’s guilt, or guilt about how much people have sacrificed to help you

  • You will have shame about your scars and imperfections—disease can feel shameful

  • Cancer allows you to speak your truth—use that to burn off the guilt and shame

  • Guilt can turn into a spiral, so watch out for feeling guilty about feeling guilty

  • Recognize your own guilt, and recognize when you are getting guilt from other people

  • Shine a light on all your feelings and allow yourself to talk about it

  • Therapy can help you move through the guilt and shame

  • Practice honesty with yourself and others--practice authenticity

  • We don’t choose the Phoenix Fire

Careers and Cancer

We talk about working or not working through cancer.

  • The diagnosis process is generally awful at work

  • You don’t have to be open about cancer--if you are open, you can help the next generation of patients

  • Tell fewer rather than more--you can ALWAYS tell more people, and you can’t tell FEWER people

  • Working will (likely) be your main issue if you work through cancer treatment

  • If you can ramp down your job to 20 hours a week, do that

  • Be gentle with yourself

  • Everyone should have disability insurance

  • Disability doesn’t pay out at 100%--it pays out from 40% to 80% generally

  • Know yourself and your job and communicate clearly to coworkers about that

  • Don’t compare yourself to anyone else--your experience can be totally different

  • There will (might) be guilt of shame, whatever choice you made about working

  • You might cry all the time for awhile, working or not

  • You don’t need to apologize--this is not your fault, and Thanks, Cancer! absolves you

  • Online resources can help with the process or resume critique (

  • Use your newfound perspective (in job and in life) when you inevitably get through to the other side

Cancer Choices

We discuss the choices that come with having cancer and how we decided.

  • You have more choices than you think you do.

  • You can say no. Before you do, ask what the consequences are. Ask a lot of questions.

  • Don’t check out on making choices--check IN!

  • Try not to pop other people’s comforting bubbles. Go gently with information for others.

  • Know how YOU want to get information.

  • We are all lost in the woods and doing the best we can.

  • Stay out of the “what might have been” as much as you can. Don’t build your house there, and make your vacations there SHORT.

  • “I did the best I could with the information I had.”

  • Be aware of any guilt or shame you might have about the choices you make.

  • You have to be aware of your animal instincts to run. Choose to chooose.

  • Take time off if you can take time off.

Cancer Fertility

Listen to us discuss fertility in the context of diagnosis.

  • Fertility is always a mindfuck.

  • If you are going through hormone treatment, be aware of how hormones mess with you.

  • Talk to someone before you leave them your eggs in a will.

  • Google for fertility scholarships and resources.

  • Having or not having kids is complicated--there are wonderful and horrible things about both lives.

  • There are plenty of kids that need a parent if you need to be a parent.