After walking a hard path in life and beginning to heal, it is so easy to never want to look back at that place again. But this week’s guest, April Johnson Stearns, found that not only looking back, but standing firmly on that path to hold the hands of other walkers, has been a deeply healing decision for her.
April is a writer and the founder of Wildfire Community, home of Wildfire Magazine. This is the digital magazine she created for young women survivors and fighters of breast cancer after she herself survived breast cancer five years ago. It is a platform for survivors and fighters to speak their own experience – each issue is filled with essays, interviews and photographs of and by reader-contributors.
In this deeply open and honest conversation, April and I talk about our shared experience of being diagnosed with breast cancer while mothering a young daughter, and having to carry the burden of our child’s grief and fear as well as our own. April also talks about how she came to create Wildfire and how it has grown, as well as the surprising benefits it has brought to her life.
Though this might seem like a particularly heavy episode, know that we also stray into conversation about tattoos and how both of our daughters love to steal and play with our “foobs” (what April calls her “fake boob”).
Here are links to the resources we talked about in the episode:
- There are several different kinds of breast cancer, each of which has a slightly different kind of treatment and chance of re-occurance. You can learn more about types of breast cancer here.
- Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swiss psychiatrist, developed a model known as the five stages of grief, that grew out of her work with terminal ill patients. Her model was introduced in her book On Death And Dying in 1969.
- Wildfire Magazine is a reader-generated, subscription-based bimonthly digital magazine for young women survivors and fighters of breast cancer. The magazine was founded in 2015, and the first issue, PHOENIX, came out March 2016. The magazine is dedicated to helping women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s discover a life they love after a breast cancer diagnosis. You can read the best of 2016 collection or subscribe to the magazine. Use code NURTURE (all caps) for 20% off your subscription.
- The essay we talked about in the interview: Homecoming.
- Another of April’s essays that relates to the episode conversation: The Jerk In The Mirror.
- I also wrote an essay for the inaugural issue of Wildfire, called Not Quite Alive. You can either subscribe or register for a sample issue, which will also give you access to the issue archives for a few days. Not Quite Alive is in Issue 1.
- After the recording ended, April and I had a conversation about a summer camp that her daughter has attended a couple of times and is finding really healing. It is called Camp Kesem, and is a camp specifically for children (ages 6-16) whose parents have been diagnosed with cancer. You can read more about this wonderful organization here.
Listen to Episode 3 with April Stearns now by clicking the little arrow in the play bar below, or head over to iTunes or your favorite podcast player to subscribe or leave a review.
Be prepared for the hard conversations.
You want to protect your kids from the hard stuff, but sometimes you can't. When you can't shield them from the impact of illness, death or grief, the best thing you can do is help them to understand and process their emotions. But know you don't have do go into these hard conversations alone.
Download a resource list with 24 books for kids on grief, death, or when a parent has a serious illness.
These stories can help guide you through helping your child, and yourself, through these tender places.