Episode 16: Embracing and Evolving Along the Cancer Journey

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My guest on this episode is doctor Shari Fox, and in it we explore embracing and evolving along the cancer journey. Like many cancer survivors, she didn’t see it coming and couldn’t understand how to make it fit in her life. So, as she puts, she “powered through it.”

Her story brings out the humanity of the challenges an illness can bring to light… denial and wanting to keep life “as usual”, planning other things to distract you, throwing yourself into your work, even dating (and not telling the prospective suitors).

Dr. Fox talks about going through life during cancer treatment as though it was a “bump in the road”. Embracing a cancer diagnosis and evolving in its acceptance, can be difficult, but the one thing she did do was begin to evaluate her spiritual connection. It had always been a part of her life, but became more important during this time.

“The first thing that was a noticeable difference in the trajectory of how I lived my life was more spiritual and the connection to those things. I started looking more at the deeper meaning of religion and what that meant for me, and how that could allow me to grow into a person that I thought was more of who I was supposed to be and my purpose here in this world.”

Shari C. Fox, MD

The deep dive into nutrition, physical activity, and stress reduction came after her second brush with cancer. But she touches on something critically important to living a fulfilling life, which is a sense of purpose and connecting to something greater than us.

Embracing and evolving in the face of our challenges means learning from the experience. As we continued our conversation, we both agreed that having been a patient made us better, more compassionate practitioners.

“To really understand what it feels like to be on the other side of the table, I think can only help in how you, as a doctor, deliver care. How you talk to people, how you approach it. I think it has given me another layer of empathy…and I hope it has made me a better doctor.”

Shari C. Fox, MD

In the final thoughts of this conversation, we discussed the importance of celebrating yourself and your accomplishments. Embracing yourself where you are, holding space for the person you are evolving to become. Personally, I think it is a way of honoring the incredibly unique and special person that you are, and in fact, honoring your purpose.

Highlights from the episode and a link to the whole episode are below.

Here are some highlights from our conversation:

  • 2:29 What it means to be an endocrinologist.
  • 2:50 Shari’s cancer story.
  • 8:49 When to suspect uncommon symptoms are something other than common.
  • 9:23 The “power-through” mindset, staying defiant, and dating through cancer treatment.
  • 10:52 Keeping it light when things get heavy. This will make you laugh!
  • 17:05 Things that sustained Shari on her journey.
  • 21:17 Diet and lifestyle in cancer recovery.
  • 24:40 Hearing the wake-up call.
  • 25:18 A renewed spiritual connection.
  • 28:36 Reflections on physical activity as more than a passing phase.
  • 33:01 Celebrating your wins!
  • 34:55 On being the patient, not the doctor.
  • 35:56 How being a patient makes you a better doctor.
  • 40:06 A life well-lived…

Links mentioned in today’s podcast:

  • Ballroom Dancing in Denver
  • Biking Vacations

A new podcast will be released every second and fourth Thursday of each month.

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