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The Emotional Journey of Cancer: Insights and Guidance for Patients and Caregivers


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The Emotional Journey of Cancer: Insights and Guidance for Patients and Caregivers with Cynthia Hayes, Author of The Big Ordeal: Understanding and Managing the Psychological Turmoil of Cancer



A cancer diagnosis can bring forth a myriad of emotions not only for the patient, but also for their caregivers and partners. Cancer can also deeply impact our relationships. My guest today is Cynthia Hayes, author of "The Big Ordeal: Understanding and Managing the Psychological Turmoil of Cancer" Cynthia based her work on interviews with hundreds of cancer patients and experts, including oncologists, psychologists, exercise physiologists, and neuroscientists. Through their insights and stories, Cynthia takes us through the chronological progression of emotional turmoil typically experienced during cancer.


You will find that you are not alone, Cynthia shares the wisdom of those who have gone before us. We look at what caregivers should understand about the emotional experience of cancer, why emotional health is not a mainstream concern among oncology practitioners, and how these emotions affect the patient, how as a caregiver we can balance our own emotions and needs with those of the patient, how we can support our loved ones in recovery. We dive into the science behind how our brains and bodies process all of this information coming at us, and how cancer can change our relationships with friends and loved ones, including our physically intimate relationships.


This conversation is a valuable resource for patients and caregivers who are dealing with the emotional challenges of cancer. Cynthia, thank you for sharing your story and work with us! I have already recommended your book to many others, as it has become my go-to resource for supporting those with cancer and providing clarity in difficult circumstances.



Cynthia shares about:

  • Her story and the insights gained from hundreds of interviews with patients and experts

  • How a cancer diagnosis can bring forth a myriad of emotions for both the patient and their caregivers and partners

  • How cancer deeply impacts relationships

  • What is the chronological progression of emotional turmoil typically experienced during cancer

  • The ways in which the process from diagnosis through treatment, progression, recurrence, and recovery is explained

  • The wisdom of those who have gone before us and what caregivers should understand about the emotional experience of cancer

  • The science behind how our brains and bodies process information during cancer and how cancer can change relationships with friends and loved ones, especially our intimate relationships

  • As a caregiver, tips on how to balance our own emotions and needs with those of the patient, how to support our loved ones in recovery, and where to find more information and support


Learn more at thebigordeal.com


About Cynthia Hayes & The Big Ordeal


Cynthia Hayes been preparing her whole life to write The Big Ordeal: Understanding and Managing the Psychological Turmoil of Cancer. She learned the basics of interviewing, synthesizing information, finding the headlines, and telling a story as a journalist early in her career. After a brief interruption to earn an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, she spent 25 years as a management consultant. In that role, success depended on her ability to jump into new topics, ask sensitive questions, understand specialized information, and turn complex findings into a compelling narrative.


Shortly prior to her own diagnosis, Cynthia resigned from Montefiore Medical Center, where for three years she had served as vice president and chief marketing officer, focused on telling stories of health and recovery. While at Montefiore, she gained a deeper understanding of medicine and an opportunity to build relationships with cancer professionals who helped her write The Big Ordeal.


When Cynthia is not on the tennis court or writing, she mentors patients going through gynecologic cancer as part of a program called Woman to Woman at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, and serves as a BOLD Buddy peer mentor to patients receiving care at the Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care in the Bronx. Cynthia also serves on the board of Moving For Life, a dance exercise program to support cancer recovery, and Global Focus on Cancer, which provides education and support for patients in developing countries.


The author lives in New York City with her fabulous husband, Charlie Cummings, two amazing adult children, David and Katharine, and their adoring Shih Tzu, Horatio, who sat at her feet through multiple drafts and countless rounds of edits.


You can read her cancer story here.



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*This episode is brought to you by Gigi Betty co. A boutique gift shop raising awareness and funds for caregivers and care partners. Show now at www.gigibettyco.com. Use the special code WILLGATHER20 for 20% off your order- Just for our podcast listeners!


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We are not medical professionals and are not providing any medical advice. If you have any medical questions, we recommend that you talk with a medical professional of your choice. willGather has taken care in selecting its speakers but the opinions of our speakers are theirs alone. Thank you for your continued interest in our podcasts.


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Nicole Will is our host and founder of willGather.


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