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 (https://www.cancerandcareers.org/en)

  • 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.


Cancer Hacks

We discuss a variety of topics, so join us for bras, fasting, doctors and google.

  • Look into intermittent Fasting for chemo.

  • Find your cancer community.

  • Carefix and Marenas have pretty great post surgical bras--you will feel better if you look better.

  • Figure out how to talk to your doctor

    • Plan before what you need to know

    • Tell your doctor how you like to get information, and how much

    • Prioritize your questions: three main ideas

    • Take notes--write down your questions before

    • What other team members should you involve?

  • Get your blood tested--iron deficiency sucks.

  • Google can’t answer your cancer questions--books and the cancer community are better resources.

Cancer Fundraising

Allie is back! Listen to us discuss the nitty gritty of fundraising.

  • Raising money is a good way to help the next generation of patients and channel the “after” energy.

  • Put the fun in fundraising. If it’s not fun, don’t do it!

  • Use fundraising to build a community.

  • Be clear about your goals.

  • Be clear about what you are asking of others.

  • Invite people to be a part of your journey.

  • Make the ask.

  • It’s not a competition. Every dollar helps.

Cancer Pain

We are back to discuss the hurt and the healing.

  • You have a new baseline, and you have to figure it out on your own.

  • Recovery is going to take longer than you think, especially if you have to go to work and be professional.

  • Check in with your body on a regular basis.

  • Pain is inevitable. Misery is optional.

  • Ask who is intubating you. Ask how often they intubate.

  • Learn the difference between healing stretching hurt and destructive hurts.

  • You are bigger than the pain. Expand to encompass the pain.

  • Think about how much medication you are taking and plan the wean off.

  • There are alternatives to Oxy, like Tramadol. There is alternatives to everything.

  • You need to take a stool softener and laxative if you are on opioids.

  • Know the location and terms of your surgical warranties.

  • Be honest about your pain. Talk to your doctor. Talk to someone. Find what works for you.

  • What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Take a deep breath and do what you can do.

  • Faith gets you through every day, whether you are religious or not.

  • Find the placebo effect.

  • Pain is:

    • The greatest teacher

    • Temporary

    • A signal to change