Transcript: Love, Marriage and Cancer | Jun 13, 2017

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, pink shirt, and purple tie.

A caption on screen reads "Love, marriage and cancer. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says EVERY DAY, ABOUT 70
WOMEN IN CANADA ARE DIAGNOSED
WITH BREAST CANCER.
BUT WHEN IT HAPPENS IN YOUR
FAMILY, IT FEELS AS IF IT'S A
UNIQUE AND HORRIBLE EXPERIENCE.
WHEN IT HAPPENED TO THE KERR
FAMILY IN BURLINGTON, IT MEANT
THE START OF TREATMENT FOR KATE...
AND FOR HER HUSBAND DON, THE
BEGINNING OF A LONG ROAD
LEARNING HOW TO COPE AS A
CAREGIVER, SUPPORTER, FATHER AND
HUSBAND.
HE CHRONICLES THAT EXPERIENCE IN
HIS NEW BOOK "RIDING SHOTGUN: A
BOOK FOR MEN AND THE PARTNERS
THEY CARE FOR."

A picture of the book appears briefly on screen. The cover is pale brown, with a black and white picture of a woman and two kids with a birthday cake.

Steve continues AND SO, WE WELCOME AUTHOR DON
KERR AND KATE KERR, FOUNDER OF
WAKE UP KATE, A MINDFULNESS
MEDITATION CONSULTANCY.

Don is in his sixties, clean-shaven and bald. He's wearing glasses and a blue gingham shirt.
Kate is in her forties, with short blond hair. She's wearing glasses and a khaki shirt.

Steve continues IT'S A DELIGHT TO WELCOME YOU BOTH HERE.
LET'S DO THIS FULL DISCLOSURE
STUFF OFF THE TOP, SHALL WE?
YOU AND I HAVE KNOWN EACH OTHER
SINCE KIDS.
WE WENT TO CAMP TOGETHER.

Don says A LONG, LONG TIME.

Steve says HAVEN'T SEEN EACH
OTHER FOR YEARS AND YEARS AND
THIS BOOK COMES OUT WHICH IS A
FORTUITOUS WAY OF SEEING YOU
AGAIN, WHICH IS WONDERFUL.
BUT WE DO NEED TO START BY
TELLING THIS STORY WHICH HAD
SUCH A DISASTROUS BEGINNING TO
IT.
KATE, I WANT TO KNOW OFF THE
TOP, HOW DID YOU GET THE NEWS
THAT YOU WERE BEING DIAGNOSED
WITH BREAST CANCER?

The caption changes to "Kate Kerr. Wake up Kate."
Then, it changes again to "The diagnosis."

Kate says IN A PLACE YOU
PROBABLY DON'T WANT TO GET NEWS.
I WAS AT WORK AND MY CELL PHONE
WENT OFF.
DIDN'T RECOGNIZE THE NUMBER.
PICKED IT UP.
AND THE VOICE SAID WHERE ARE
YOU?
I SAID, WELL, I'M AT WORK.
WHERE ELSE WOULD I BE?
CAN YOU GET INTO A PRIVATE ROOM?
AND AT THAT POINT THE NEWS WAS
BROKEN TO ME.

Steve says BY A RECEPTIONIST, I
GUESS?

Kate says BY MY DOCTOR.

Steve says YOUR DOCTOR, OKAY.
OVER THE TELEPHONE.
WHICH IN YOUR VIEW WAS NOT THE
GREATEST WAY TO GET THE NEWS?

Kate says NO.
IT COMPLETELY TOOK ME BY
SURPRISE.
SO I REALLY HAD NO CLUE WHAT WAS
COMING, AND WHEN IT DID, I WAS
USHERED INTO A PRIVATE ROOM, AND
THEN SHE ACTUALLY BROKE DOWN IN
TEARS.

Steve says YOUR DOCTOR?

Kate says... TELLING ME
THIS NEWS.
SO THAT WAS AN UNFORTUNATE
START, I WOULD SAY.

Steve says DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA
WHY THE NEWS WAS DELIVERED SO
POORLY?

Kate says NOT REALLY.
I THINK...

Steve says DO THEY AS A GENERAL
RULE KNOW HOW TO DO THIS?

Kate says I CAN IMAGINE
IT'S NOT THE NICEST THING IN THE
WORLD TO BREAK THE NEWS, BY THE
WAY, YOU'VE GOT A RARE AND
AGGRESSIVE BREAST CANCER.
IT WASN'T HANDLED WELL IN THIS
MOMENT.
I THINK SHE HAD BEEN BREAKING
THIS NEWS TO A LOT OF PEOPLE,
ACTUALLY.
I THINK SHE WAS A LITTLE TIRED,
YEAH.

Steve says THAT'S HOW YOU GOT
THE NEWS.
HOW DID YOU GET THE NEWS?

The caption changes to "Don Kerr. Author, 'Riding shotgun.'"

Don says I GOT A CALL FROM
THE SAME DOCTOR.
I WAS IN THE DRIVEWAY ABOUT TO
PICK UP MY SONS FROM SCHOOL, WHO
WERE 2 AND 4.
THE DOCTOR SAID I JUST INFORMED
KATE THAT SHE HAS BREAST CANCER.
THAT'S PRETTY MUCH ALL I
REMEMBER AT THAT POINT.

Steve says EVERYTHING AFTER
THAT WAS A BLUR?

Don says WAS A BLUR.
A COMPLETE BLUR.
I REMEMBER THINKING, WELL, THIS
IS A REALLY LOUSY WAY TO FIND
OUT ABOUT THIS, YOU KNOW?
BECAUSE I'M TOTALLY HELPLESS.
AND I'VE GOT TO BE IN SHAPE TO
PICK UP THE BOYS AND SO ON.
SO, YEAH, THE DELIVERY OF THE
ORIGINAL DIAGNOSIS WAS
UNFORTUNATE.
FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, IT SHOULD
HAVE BEEN A WARNING OF WHAT
MIGHT COME, OF WHAT WE MIGHT
COME TO EXPECT FROM ASPECTS OF
THE MEDICAL COMMUNITY.

Steve says MEANING WHAT?

Don says MEANING THAT
THERE ARE FEW PEOPLE OUT THERE
THAT WE ENCOUNTERED AT THE
OUTSET OF THIS WHO ARE EQUIPPED
TO DELIVER NEWS OF THAT SORT
EFFECTIVELY AND EMPATHETICALLY.
IT MAY BE A FUNCTION OF THEY
HAVE TO DELIVER THE NEWS AGAIN
AND AGAIN AND MAYBE THEY HAD
BECOME ENURED TO IT.
BUT IT COMES A POINT IN THE
MEDICAL COMMUNITY, WE HAVE
EXPECTATIONS OF THEM THAT YOU
SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO THIS A
LITTLE BIT BETTER.

Steve says A LITTLE BETTER
BEDSIDE MANNER PARTICULARLY ON
NEWS OF POTENTIALLY LIFE AND DEATH.

Don says EXACTLY.

Steve says SO THAT'S HOW YOU
GOT THE NEWS.
THAT'S HOW YOU GOT THE NEWS.
AT WHAT POINT DID THE TWO OF YOU
ACTUALLY GET TOGETHER AND START
TO, WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT THIS?

Kate says UNRAVEL IT.

Steve says YEAH.

Don says I'LL LET YOU
SPEAK TO THAT, KATE.

Kate says YEAH.
SO MY GUT REACTION WAS TO PHONE
MY PARENTS, ACTUALLY, AND TELL
THEM TO GET OUR KIDS OUT OF THE
HOUSE.
I DID NOT WANT MY KIDS SEEING ME
COMING HOME IN THIS WAY, IN THIS
MANNER FROM WORK.
AND SO I KNOW THAT DON WAS TOLD
SEPARATELY BY OUR DOCTOR, AND
QUITE FRANKLY, I ARRIVED HOME,
SOMEHOW MANAGED TO DRIVE MYSELF
HOME, ARRIVE HOME.
MY PARENTS WERE KIND OF TAKING
THE KIDS AWAY, TAKING THEM OUT
OF THE HOUSE, AND AT THAT POINT
I THINK IT WAS JUST DON AND I, RIGHT?
EVERYBODY WAS GONE.

Don says YEAH.

Kate says AND I WAS IN SHOCK.
SO THE LAST WORDS I REMEMBER
HEARING WERE FROM MY DAD WHO
SAID, OKAY, SHE'S IN SHOCK RIGHT
NOW, AND THAT WAS SORT OF IT.
SO THERE'S THIS HUGE SHOCK THAT
SETTLED.

Steve says HOW OLD WERE YOU AT
THE TIME?

Kate says 36.

Steve says YOU'VE GOT A
36-YEAR-OLD BREAST CANCER
DIAGNOSIS.

Kate says YEAH.

Steve says AND DID YOU HAVE ANY
SENSE AT THAT MOMENT ABOUT MORTALITY?

Kate says NO.
ABSOLUTELY NOT.

Steve says DID YOU ASSUME FROM
THE GET-GO, OKAY, WE'RE GOING TO
TREAT THIS AND MOVE ON?

Kate says NO.
AND IN THOSE FEW WORDS, WHERE
YOU'RE TOLD NEWS LIKE THAT, YOUR
WORLD COMPLETELY CHANGES
FOREVER, OBVIOUSLY, AND YOUR
MORTALITY IS SUDDENLY VERY
PRESENT FOR YOU, AND WE WERE LED
TO BELIEVE, ACTUALLY, THAT THERE
MIGHT NOT BE A LOT OF HOPE.
SO FOR A FEW WEEKS, CERTAINLY
THE CORE FAMILY FELT THAT THERE
MAY BE VERY LITTLE THAT WE COULD
DO BECAUSE THE DIAGNOSIS WAS
POORLY MANAGED.

Steve says I WANT TO KNOW MORE
ABOUT THAT.
THE INITIAL NEWS WAS, YOU'VE GOT
BREAST CANCER AND IT'S PROBABLY
UNTREATABLE?

Don says RARE AND
AGGRESSIVE WAS THE TERMINOLOGY
THAT WAS USED.
NOW, WHERE IT REALLY HIT THE FAN
FROM MY PERSPECTIVE WAS OUR
FIRST VISIT TO THE SURGEON, AND
THE FIRST SURGEON WE WENT TO
VISIT WAS VERY MATTER-OF-FACT
ABOUT THIS THING.
I THINK WE WENT TO MEET WITH HIM
ON A TUESDAY.
WE WERE ON LAKESHORE IN
OAKVILLE.
AND HE SAID, WE'LL GET YOU IN ON
FRIDAY.
WE'LL HAVE A RADICAL MASTECTOMY.
WE MAY HAVE TO DO A LYMPHECTOMY.
HOLD ON.
I REMEMBER LEAVING THERE
THINKING THAT DOESN'T SOUND
RIGHT AND THEN THE TIPPING POINT
FOR ME WAS, WE WERE SITTING IN
THE CAR ON LAKESHORE AND KATIE
WAS WAILING, "I'M GOING TO DIE,
I'M GOING TO DIE, I'M GOING TO
DIE."
THAT WAS THE ONLY THING I
REMEMBER.
AND AT THAT POINT I SAID, NO,
THIS AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN THIS
WAY.
I REMEMBER FOR ME THAT REALLY
WAS THE CROSSING OF THE RUBICON
AT THAT POINT.

Steve says DID YOU BELIEVE WHEN
YOU SAY IT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN
THAT WAY, DID YOU REALLY BELIEVE IT?

Don says YEAH.
I REALLY DID BELIEVE THAT
KATIE... SHE WAS NOT GOING TO GO
IN ON FRIDAY AND BE AMPUTATED.
THAT WASN'T GOING TO HAPPEN
BECAUSE I DIDN'T HAVE CONFIDENCE
IN THE NEWS WE HAD RECEIVED IN
THE MANNER IN WHICH WE HAD
RECEIVED IT.
I WAS VERY LUCKY THAT I HAD A
FRIEND IN A VERY SENIOR POSITION
AT THE UNIVERSITY HEALTH NETWORK
IN TORONTO.
I CALLED HER HALF AN HOUR AFTER
THAT AND I SAID, GILLIAN, HELP.
CAN YOU GET US IN TO SEE
SOMEBODY AT PRINCESS MARGARET?
AND SHE SAID I'LL CALL YOU BACK
IN HALF AN HOUR.
SHE CALLED ME BACK AND SHE SAID
I'VE GOT YOU IN TO SEE ONE OF
THE LEADING GUYS IN AMERICA ON
BREAST CANCER.
YOU'RE COMING IN NEXT TUESDAY.
OR WHATEVER IT WAS.
AND OUR WORLD CHANGED....
AT THAT MOMENT.
WITH COMPASSIONATE CARE,
UNDERSTANDING, AND SOMEBODY WHO
WAS ABLE TO TAKE A LOOK AT THE
INFORMATION AND SAY, "WELL,
THAT'S NOT NECESSARILY THE WAY I
WOULD INTERPRET IT."

Kate says JUST TO ADD TO
THAT, WE BOTH WENT FROM SHOCK TO
SCRAMBLE.
SO WE WENT INTO MASSIVE SCRAMBLE
MODE, REACHING OUT.
AND THE THING IS, DON WAS THE
GUY THAT REACHED OUT FIRST,
WHICH IS QUITE RARE, RIGHT?
SO THAT WAS THE BEGINNINGS OF
THIS... HIS CARE-GIVING ROLE.
THAT WAS THAT FIRST MOMENT, JUST
REACHED OUT.
HE PICKED UP THE PHONE AND
CALLED SOMEONE, RIGHT?

Steve says WE'RE OBVIOUSLY
GOING TO PURSUE THIS ANGLE OF
YOUR CARE-GIVING ROLE.
THIS PART OF THE STORY DOES
RAISE QUESTIONS ABOUT ALL OF
THOSE WHO GET THE SAME DIAGNOSIS
YOU DO AND DON'T HAVE THAT
PERSON INSIDE THE HEALTH CARE
SYSTEM TO CALL TO REACH OUT TO.
WHAT IS THEIR CARE LIKE?
ANYWAY, I'LL LEAVE THAT OUT IN
THE ETHER.
YOU'VE EXPLAINED HOW THE TWO OF
YOU FOUND THE NEWS.
HOW DID YOU DECIDE WHEN AND HOW
TO BREAK THIS NEWS, KATIE, TO YOUR KIDS?

Kate says MM-HMM.
WE WERE TALKING ABOUT THIS TOO.
OF COURSE, THE FIRST REACTION
WAS GET THEM OUT OF THE HOUSE.
I DON'T WANT THEM SEEING ME IN
THIS WAY.
WE... TO BE HONEST, I THINK ONE
OF THE THINGS WE DID WAS WE
BROKE IT IN QUITE GRADUALLY.
WE READ A COUPLE OF BOOKS, YOU
KNOW, THAT HELPED US UNDERSTAND,
HOW DO YOU BREAK THIS KIND OF
NEWS TO YOUR KIDS?
YOU CAN BREAK IT DOWN INTO WORDS
AND LANGUAGE THAT THEY
UNDERSTAND.
SO THAT WAS SORT OF A STARTING
POINT FOR US.
BUT WE REALLY QUICKLY REALIZED,
YOU KNOW, AS SOON AS YOU'RE
THRUST INTO CHEMO TREATMENT,
CHEMOTHERAPY, YOU CANNOT HIDE
THIS FROM YOUR KIDS.

Steve says NO, BECAUSE YOU'RE
GOING TO LOOK DIFFERENT.

The caption changes to "Kate Kerr, @wakeupkate_inc."

Kate says IT'S SO IN FRONT
OF THEM AND PRESENT FOR THEM.
SO THAT IN EFFECT WAS A GOOD
THING FOR US BECAUSE IT ENABLED
US TO NOT HAVE TO HIDE ANYTHING
ANYMORE, HAVE TO NOT TALK TO
THEM ABOUT IT, TO ACTUALLY BRING
THEM INTO THE WORLD AND THAT
KIND OF THING.

Steve says HOW DID THEY HANDLE
IT WHEN THEY SAW MOMMY START TO
LOSE THEIR HAIR AND ALL THAT
KIND OF BUSINESS?

Kate says SAMMY WAS A WEE LAD, GABRIEL
WAS 3 OR 4.
IT WAS STRANGE FOR HIM.
IT WAS UNUSUAL THAT THEY'RE SO
ACCEPTING OF THIS KIND OF STUFF
SO, YOU KNOW, IT WAS ALL RIGHT.

Steve says THAT BECAME SORT OF
THE NEW NORMAL IN THE HOME?

Kate says ABSOLUTELY, YEAH.

Steve says DON, WE'RE GOING TO
FOLLOW UP ON THIS CARE-GIVING
ROLE NOW.
I PRESUME AT THIS POINT IN YOUR
LIFE YOU HAD NOT HAD TO BE KIND
OF A PRIMARY CARE-GIVER IN THE
WAY THAT YOU WOULD BE TO YOUR
WIFE EVER BEFORE; IS THAT RIGHT?

Don says THAT'S ABSOLUTELY TRUE.

Steve says HAVING NEVER
EXPERIENCED THAT KIND OF ROLE
BEFORE, HOW DO YOU BEGIN TO GET
YOUR HEAD AROUND IT, TAKE IT ON,
CHAMPION IT, ETC.?

The caption changes to "Don Kerr, @dkridingshotgun."
Then, it changes again to "Care for the caregiver."

Don says THE FIRST THING I
WILL TELL ANYBODY WHO ASKS ME
ABOUT IT, SO I'M GOING TO DO IT
FOR YOU, IS YOU HAVE TO
ACKNOWLEDGE THE FACT THAT YOU
DON'T KNOW HOW TO FIX THIS.
I KEEP TELLING PEOPLE AGAIN AND
AGAIN AND AGAIN THAT MEN SEEM TO
HAVE THIS FUNDAMENTAL GENETIC
FLAW THAT "I WILL FIX THIS."
I DON'T CARE WHAT IT IS, I CAN
FIX IT.

Steve says BECAUSE YOU'RE THE MAN.

Don says I'M THE MAN, I'M THE HERO.
I'M GOING TO RIDE OFF ON MY
HORSE AND FIX THIS.
YOU QUICKLY REALIZE THAT AIN'T
GONNA HAPPEN, IT'S JUST NOT
GOING TO HAPPEN.
I GUESS ONE OF THE THINGS I DID
EARLY ON WAS ACCEPT THE FACT
THAT I WAS VULNERABLE IN THIS
SITUATION AND ACCEPT THE FACT
THAT I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO DO
AND THAT I WAS GOING TO HAVE TO
SUCK IT UP AND ASK FOR SOME
HELP.
SO I STARTED TO GO LOOKING FOR
HELP.
AND THAT WAS THE GENESIS OF THE
WHOLE THING, BECAUSE I COULDN'T
FIND HELP.

Steve says WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU
COULDN'T FIND HELP?

Don says I COULDN'T FIND HELP.
I COULDN'T FIND RESOURCES.
I WENT LOOKING SPECIFICALLY FOR
STUFF THAT CATERED TO MEN WHO
WERE IN A SITUATION SUCH AS I
WAS, AND I FOUND VERY LITTLE.
I FOUND A FEW ORGANIZATIONS
ONLINE THAT DIDN'T REALLY GIVE
ME MUCH PRACTICAL ADVICE.
AT TORONTO GENERAL, KATIE HAD
SOME PSYCHIATRIC OPPORTUNITY
THERE AND I REMEMBER ASKING ONE
OF THE PEOPLE THERE, IS THERE
SOMETHING LIKE THIS FOR THE MALE
CARE-GIVER?
HE SAID, NO.
THERE USED TO BE BUT WE LOST THE
FUNDING FOR IT BECAUSE NOBODY
REALLY SIGNED UP FOR IT.
WELL, THAT'S INTERESTING.
I WONDER WHY THAT IS?
I THINK IT IS BECAUSE MOST MEN
DON'T WANT TO DO THAT.
DON'T WANT TO GO THERE.

Steve says I GUESS IN FAIRNESS,
YOU ARE... AND YOU'RE GOING TO
FORGIVE ME FOR PUTTING IT THIS
WAY.
YOU'RE REALLY THE STAR OF THE
SHOW.
IT'S ABOUT YOU.
IT'S ABOUT DEALING WITH YOUR
PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL NEEDS
AND THE SYSTEM IS VERY MUCH
DESIGNED AND FOCUSED ON GETTING
YOU BETTER BUT IT DOESN'T REALLY
TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE SPOUSE'S
ROLE IN ANY OF THIS, DOES IT?

Kate says NO.

Steve says YOU KIND OF HAVE TO
MAKE THIS UP AS YOU GO ALONG.

Don says PRETTY MUCH.

Steve says HERE'S A QUOTE FROM
THE BOOK BECAUSE HERE'S YOU
TALKING ABOUT IT...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Suffering in silence." The quote reads "Very early on in this cancer trek, I experienced what I have since learned is a common phenomenon for men in similar situations. We attempt to disguise or hide or deny the genuine fear, hopelessness and helplessness we experience. Our job is to be stalwart, brave and stable. Our conditioning is to find a way to 'fix this' while remaining the solid foundation of emotional stability our wives, partners and families require."
Quoted from Don Kerr, "Riding shotgun." 2017.

Steve says OKAY.
SO YOU'VE LAID IT OUT NICELY
THERE.
ONCE YOU DECIDE THAT YOU CAN'T
FIX THIS AND THAT YOU, IN
ESSENCE, MAY HAVE TO KIND OF
WRITE YOUR OWN TEMPLATE FOR THIS
SINCE IT DIDN'T ALREADY EXIST,
WHAT DID YOU DO?

Don says I STARTED MAKING FRIENDS.
THAT WAS ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS
I DID.
I MET SOME WONDERFUL PEOPLE
THROUGH FACINGCANCER.CA.
IN MY SEARCH FOR RESOURCES AND
SO ON, I CAME UPON
FACINGCANCER.CA, WHICH IS
OSTENSIBLY A SITE FOR WOMEN WHO
HAVE CANCER WHO DON'T WANT TO
LOOK LIKE THEY HAVE CANCER.
IT'S RUN BY THE LOOK GOOD-FEEL
BETTER FOUNDATION.
BUT THROUGH THAT I WAS
INTRODUCED TO A NUMBER OF PEOPLE
WHO RECOGNIZED WHAT I WAS GOING
THROUGH, AND THEY STARTED TO
GIVE ME AN OPPORTUNITY TO WRITE
ABOUT WHAT I WAS EXPERIENCING.
I'VE BEEN A WRITER SINCE I CAN
REMEMBER, AND IT'S HOW I'M ABLE
TO EXPRESS MYSELF AND HOW I'M
ABLE TO GET MY EMOTION OUT AND
HOW I'M ABLE TO FUNCTION,
REALLY.
SO I STARTED TO WRITE ABOUT WHAT
WAS GOING ON, AND THROUGH THAT
ACT, PART OF IT BEING CATHARTIC,
BUT THE OTHER PART OF IT WAS
EXPLORATORY.
IT WAS LEADING ME DOWN ROADS
WHERE I COULD SAY, WHAT ABOUT
THIS?
WHAT IF I WENT DOWN HERE AND
LEARNED SOMETHING?
ONE OF THE BEST PEOPLE I MET
EARLY ON WAS DR. ALEXANDRA
GINTY, AND SHE WAS BRILLIANT
WITH ME.
WE WERE SITTING IN A COFFEE SHOP
IN OAKVILLE.
I HAD JUST MET HER AT THAT
MOMENT.
AND SHE PRETTY MUCH SAID TO ME,
DON, JUST KEEP DOING WHAT YOU'RE
DOING.
YOU KNOW?
AS LONG AS YOU SHOW UP FOR KATE,
THAT'S WHAT MATTERS.
NOW, ALEX HERSELF IS A BREAST
CANCER THRIVER, AS WE LIKE TO
CALL THEM.
WE'LL COME TO THAT LATER.

Steve says YOU DON'T LIKE THE
WORD "SURVIVOR"?

Kate says I DON'T.

Steve says OKAY, KATE.
WHAT DON'T YOU LIKE ABOUT THAT TERM?
THAT'S WHAT EVERYBODY SAYS.

Kate says IT HIT ME RIGHT
AFTER DIAGNOSIS WAS THIS LABEL
THAT WE'RE GIVEN OF BEING A
SURVIVOR.
THE REALITY IS, YEAH, YOU'RE
SURVIVING SOMETHING HERE, BUT
ACTUALLY, THERE'S SUCH... FOR ME
ANYWAY, THERE'S A HUGE AMOUNT OF
TRANSFORMATION AND CERTAIN
RECREATION.
AND SO WE ADOPTED THIS KIND OF
TERMINOLOGY FROM GOOD FRIENDS OF
OURS THRIVERS OR SURVIVORSHIP,
WHICH IS SORT OF A BROADER TERM,
REALLY, TO KIND OF SPEAK TO,
WHAT IS THIS THING THAT YOU'RE
LEFT WITH AT THE END AND HOW DO
YOU MAKE THE MOST OF IT AND WHAT
DO YOU DO?

Steve says YOU'RE PRESUMABLY
REFERRING TO MORE THAN JUST A
PHYSICAL TRANSFORMATION, WHICH
OBVIOUSLY HAPPENS WHEN YOU
UNDERGO SURGERY.

Kate says YEAH.

Steve says YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT
THE WHOLE THING, EMOTIONAL,
INTELLECTUAL.
LET ME PICK UP ON THAT IN TERMS
OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP.
OBVIOUSLY FOR THE TWO OF YOU IN
THIS MARRIAGE, YOU ARE, YOU
KNOW, LET'S MAKE THE CHECKLIST
HERE.
YOU'RE LOVERS, YOU'RE HUSBAND
AND WIFE, YOU'RE PARENTS
TOGETHER, YOU HAVE YOUR VARIOUS
PROFESSIONAL ENGAGEMENTS.
BUT NOW YOU'RE CARE-GIVER AND
PATIENT AS WELL.
HOW DID THAT CHANGE THINGS?
DON'T LOOK AT HIM.
I'M ASKING YOU.

Don says I'M NOT HELPING.

The caption changes to "The new normal."

Kate says UM, YEAH.
I THINK AT THE END OF THE DAY,
ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WAS
FORTUNATE ABOUT OUR SITUATION
IS, IN MANY WAYS, DON FULFILLED
THE ROLE OF CARE-GIVER IN OUR
RELATIONSHIP IN SOME WAYS BEFORE
I GOT SICK.
SO HE HAD SOME SKILLS IN THIS
AREA, AND THAT HELPED, QUITE
FRANKLY, BECAUSE IT WASN'T AS
MUCH OF A SHOCK FOR US TO ALMOST
HAVE... IT WASN'T REALLY A ROLE
REVERSAL IN THAT SENSE.
THERE WAS SOME CARE-GIVING GOING
ON IN OUR LIVES AND WHAT WE DO.
I THINK THAT PAVED THE WAY FOR
IT TO BE A BIT SMOOTHER, IN SOME
WAYS, RIGHT?

Steve says HE'S GIVING YOU
SOMETHING YOU DO FOR YOUR
CHILDREN OR MAYBE AGED PARENTS.
YOU DON'T THINK OF CARE-GIVING
OF SOMETHING YOU NEED TO DO FOR
A 36-YEAR-OLD SPOUSE.

Don says NO.

Steve says SO WHAT DID IT DO
FOR YOUR MARRIAGE?

Don says ESPECIALLY WHEN
YOU'RE 22 YEARS OLDER THAN THAT
SPOUSE.

Steve says I WASN'T GOING TO SAY.

Don says NO, BUT IT'S RELEVANT.
THE EXPECTATIONS OF BEING THRUST
INTO A CARE-GIVER ROLE WOULD BE
MORE NATURALLY PRESUMED IF IT
WERE HER...

Steve says THE OTHER WAY AROUND.

Don says AND MY
ENCROACHING DECREPITUDE.
I THINK WHAT KATIE REFERENCES IS
THE FACT THAT I'VE BEEN WORKING
FROM HOME SINCE 2003, AND KATIE
WAS STILL, YOU KNOW, WORKING OUT
IN THE REAL WORLD.
SO I HAD SOME EXPERIENCE WITH
THE KIDS.
HOWEVER, THE EXPECTATION CHANGED
IN SO MUCH AS WE HAD DEVELOPED
A... IT WAS A PARTNERSHIP,
RIGHT?
IT REALLY WAS ONE OF A
PARTNERSHIP THAN ANYTHING ELSE.
APART FROM THOSE TIMES DURING
CHEMO WHEN YOU WERE SO
HORRENDOUSLY ILL THAT I REALLY
HAD TO PICK UP PRETTY MUCH
EVERYTHING.

Steve says WHAT'S THE MOST
FABULOUSLY PROFANE THING YOU
SAID TO HIM WHEN YOU WERE
WRETCHING FROM CHEMO.
GO AHEAD.
WE CAN...

Kate says RANDOM STORY.
HE WAS UP ON THE ROOF ONE DAY.
IT WAS HALFWAY THROUGH CHEMO.
THERE WAS A STORM OUTSIDE.
AND SOMETHING NEEDED TO BE FIXED
ON THE ROOF, OKAY?
AND SO THE STORM CAME, THE
LIGHTNING WAS OUT THERE, AND HE
STARTED TO COME DOWN THE LADDER
AND I REMEMBER OPENING THE DOOR
AND SAYING, GET YOUR BUTT BACK
UP THAT LADDER AND ONTO THE ROOF
AND FIX THAT THING.
DO YOU THINK I CARE ABOUT A
LITTLE LIGHTNING AFTER WHAT I'VE
JUST BEEN THROUGH?
SO, YEAH, THERE'S LOTS OF THAT.

Steve says HOW DID YOU TAKE THAT?

Don says YOU LEFT OUT
SEVERAL ADJECTIVES.
SEVERAL.
WHICH I COULD FILL IN, BUT I
WON'T.

Steve says ANY OF THEM START
WITH THE LETTER "F"?

Don says YEAH, THERE WAS
ABOUT FOUR OF THOSE IN A ROW, AS
A MATTER OF FACT.
I ACTUALLY ENDED UP LAUGHING
ABOUT IT.
I WRITE ABOUT IT IN THE BOOK
BECAUSE IT WAS ONE OF THE
LIGHTER MOMENTS IN THE THING,
AND IT DID KIND OF PUT IT INTO
PERSPECTIVE.
YOU KNOW, LIKE, SERIOUSLY, KATE,
I COULD DIE HERE.
I COULD GET STRUCK BY LIGHTNING
AND DIE.
BUT I DIDN'T.
I SURVIVED.

Steve says I'M NOT GOING TO LET
THIS MARRIAGE THING GO YET,
THOUGH.
OBVIOUSLY IT IS A BIG THING FOR
PEOPLE WHO HAVE GOT BUSY LIVES
IN CITIES AND DEALING WITH YOUNG
KIDS AND JOBS AND THE WHOLE
9 YARDS TO, AS THEY SAY, TRY TO
PRESERVE WHATEVER MAGIC THERE IS
IN A RELATIONSHIP.
YOU DON'T HAVE THE LUXURY OF
WORRYING ABOUT THE MAGIC OF A
RELATIONSHIP WHEN SHE'S
WRETCHING AFTER GOING THROUGH
CHEMO AND YOU'RE TRYING TO
FIGURE OUT YOUR ROLE THROUGH ALL
THIS.
HOW HAS IT TRANSFORMED YOUR
MARITAL RELATIONSHIP?

Don says LET ME COME BACK
TO THAT.
BECAUSE IT DOES.
IRREVOCABLY.
I'M A BIG FAN OF GARY LARSON,
THE FAR SIDE CARTOONS.
ONE OF THE FAVOURITES I USE
OFTEN IN PRESENTATIONS ARE TWO
DEERS STANDING IN THE FOREST ON
THEIR HIND LEGS AS DEERS DO AND
ONE HAS A BIG BULL'S-EYE ON HIS
CHEST.
THE ONE DEER SAYS TO THE OTHER,
WELL, BUMMER BIRTHMARK, HALL.
THAT'S WHAT IT FEELS LIKE.
THAT'S WHAT IT FEELS LIKE WHEN
YOU'RE IN THE POSITION I WAS
IN... HAL.
YOU DO BECOME THE TARGET OF SOME
PRETTY HORRENDOUS COMMENTARY.
AND I'M NOT EVEN SURE KATIE
WOULD REMEMBER SOME OF THIS WHEN
SHE WAS IN THE DEPTHS OF ILLNESS
AND SO ON.
SOME OF IT LEAVES A MARK.
BUT THE THING THAT I TALK ABOUT
OFTEN IS THIS NOTION OF FINDING
BEAUTY IN THE WRECKAGE.
IT'S VERY IMPORTANT THAT AS YOU
APPROACH THIS THING THAT YOU
ADOPT AN ATTITUDE THAT SAYS, IT
REALLY CAN'T BE AS BAD AS IT
SEEMS TO BE.
OTHERWISE, WHAT'S THE POINT?
WHAT'S THE POINT OF CARRYING ON?
IF IT REALLY IS THIS PAINFUL AND
THIS GRUESOME AND THERE'S NO
HOPE FOR ANYTHING OTHER THAN
THIS, WHY WOULD YOU STICK
AROUND?
WHY WOULD YOU PUT UP WITH THIS?
WHAT I EXPERIENCED WAS THAT WE
REDIRECTED A LOT OF OUR PASSIONS
AND ENERGIES IN DIFFERENT
DIRECTIONS.
WERE WE AS PHYSICAL AS WE HAD
ONCE BEEN?
NO, OF COURSE NOT.
IT TOOK A LONG TIME TO RECOVER.
AND THERE'S A FRAGILITY ABOUT
THAT.
WAS I AS, YOU KNOW, AS OUTGOING
AND WERE WE IN A POSITION WHERE
WE COULD GO PARTY OFTEN AND SO
ON?
WELL, NO.

Steve says CLEARLY NOT.

Don says WE WEREN'T.
AT THE SAME TIME, KATIE
REINVENTED HER LIFE WHICH, BY
EXTENSION, REINVENTED OUR LIVES,
THE LIVES OF THOSE TWO LITTLE
BOYS UP THERE AND ME IN TERMS OF
DIET, IN TERMS OF OUR
EXPECTATIONS OF OUR HOUSING, IN
TERMS OF OUR FINANCIALS, IN
TERMS OF WHAT WE EXPECT FROM
MATERIAL THINGS.
THE DRIVE THAT WE HAD TO GAIN
MATERIAL THINGS VIRTUALLY
DISAPPEARED.

Steve says BECAUSE IT'S NOT IMPORTANT.
IT'S NOT LIFE OR DEATH.

Don says NO.

Steve says KATIE, I'LL THROW
THE CLICHÉ AT YOU AND YOU TELL
ME WHETHER IT'S TRUE.
WE WOULD OF COURSE WATCHING FROM
THE OUTSIDE WANT TO BELIEVE THE
TWO OF YOU, HAVING GONE THROUGH
HELL TOGETHER, ARE NOW JUST MUCH
MORE INEXTRICABLY BOUND AND
LOVING EVERY MOMENT OF LIFE
TOGETHER AND YOU'VE EMERGED FROM
THE HELL STRONGER, AND IS ANY OF
THAT TRUE?

Kate says NO.
THE IRONY OF THE BOOK ACTUALLY
IS, AND DON REACHING OUT, WHICH
WAS SUCH AN IMPORTANT PART OF
WHAT HE DID FOR US, IS HOW FAR
IS TOO FAR WHEN IT COMES TO
REACHING OUT AND BLOGGING ABOUT
OUR LIVES, RIGHT?
THAT CAUSED A SERIOUS AMOUNT OF
FRICTION FOR US.

Steve says CATHARTIC FOR HIM.
BUT AN INVASION OF YOUR PRIVACY.

Kate says JUST A MINUTE.
HOW MUCH ARE WE SHARING HERE?
IN THE EARLY DAYS, THERE WAS
SOME EDITING THAT WENT ON.
FOR SURE.
WE HAVE RELAXED, BOTH OF US HAVE
RELAXED AROUND THAT, I WOULD
SAY, IN LARGE PART.
YOU KNOW, I THINK THE OTHER
THING THAT IS REALLY... THAT
NEVER GOES AWAY, IT WILL NEVER
CHANGE, IS THIS NOTION THAT YOU
CAN'T POSSIBLY... YOU REALLY, AT
THE END OF THE DAY, YOU CANNOT
UNDERSTAND WHAT THIS IS LIKE.
AND THAT DOESN'T REALLY GO AWAY.
SO IT'S COMING TO TERMS WITH
THESE THINGS AND IT'S TURNING
TOWARDS THEM, YOU KNOW, EVERY
DAY AND SORT OF BEGINNING TO GET
COMFORTABLE WITH THEM AND
WELCOME THEM A LITTLE BIT.
OTHERWISE, YOU CAN JUST TEAR
YOURSELF UP.

Steve says IN OUR LAST MINUTE
HERE I WANT TO ASK THE QUESTION
THAT OF COURSE EVERYBODY WANTS
TO KNOW NOW, WHICH IS: HOW ARE YOU?

Kate says AWESOME.

Steve says YOU ARE, EH?

Kate says BETTER THAN EVER.
THRIVING.
BETTER THAN EVER.
IN FACT, I WAS PROBABLY
SURVIVING MY LIFE BEFORE I GOT
CANCER.
AFTER CANCER, I HAVE NEVER FELT
BETTER PHYSICALLY, EMOTIONALLY,
OR SPIRITUALLY, ACTUALLY.
SO, YEAH.

The caption changes to "A good prognosis."

Steve says I'M PRESUMING YOU
WOULDN'T WISH THAT YOU HAD IT
BECAUSE IT'S A HELL OF A WAKE-UP CALL.

Kate says YEAH.

Steve says BUT YOU'VE FOUND THE
SILVER LINING; IS THAT THE WAY
TO PUT IT?

Kate says YEAH.
I MEAN, IT'S... IN SOME WAYS,
MAYBE I DID NEED TO GO THROUGH
THIS.
IN SOME WAYS MAYBE I DID.
BUT, NO, I WOULDN'T WISH IT ON
ANYONE, BUT IT'S A GIFT WRAPPED
UP BARBED WIRE, IS WHAT I OFTEN SAY.
SO, YEAH.

Steve says WHAT A GREAT
METAPHOR.
I WANT TO THANK BOTH OF YOU FOR
COMING IN AND SHARING THESE VERY
PERSONAL DETAILS OF BOTH OF YOUR
LIVES, WHICH I HAVE NO DOUBT BUT
THAT IT WILL HELP MANY OTHERS
WHO FIND THEMSELVES AS PART OF
THOSE... WHAT DID YOU SAY?
WRAPPED IN BARBED WIRE?

Kate says GIFT-WRAPPED IN
HAD BARBED WIRE.

The caption changes to "Producer: Colin Ellis, @ColinEllis81."

Steve says WHO FIND THEMSELVES
IN THE SAME GIFT-WRAPPED IN
BARBED WIRE.
THE BOOK IS "A BOOK FOR MEN AND
THE PARTNERS THEY CARE FOR."
THANKS FOR COMING IN, YOU TWO.

Don says THANK YOU, STEVE.

Watch: Love, Marriage and Cancer