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I’m jealous of Jeannie’s brain tumor. 

It was growing inside her head for years. One day, she took her kids to the doctor. Every time the doctor talked, Jeannie turned her head.

She was listening out of one ear.

And got lucky.

The doctor noticed.

So she went to an ENT. And they found her tumor.

It was the size of a pear. 

She named her book after it, “When Life Gives You Pears: The Healing Power of Family, Faith, and Funny People.”

Jeannie had a mega support system: neighbors, her husband, siblings. They got her the best doctors, visited her in the hospital, took care of her life while she was gone.

Reading her book scared me.

Do I have a support system? How would people react? Who would help me.

“I had no idea I had this [support system],” Jeannie said. “It took this. And you have it. You just don’t know… like me. I didn’t know it.” 

I’m releasing this episode on Thanksgiving. Because when I was done reading Jeannie’s book, I did what I felt I had to.

I sat with my kids. Talked. Listened. And, maybe selfishly, felt a little less alone. And a little less jealous.

I don’t have a brain tumor. (That’s a good thing). And I don’t have Jeannie’s support system. But I have mine.

And I’m thankful for them.

Here’s the list of topics Jeannie and I cover in this episode:

  • 4:07 | “Most comedy comes from conflict.” Jeannie Gaffigan says why battling brain cancer and other hard truths are comedic. And help alleviate fear.
  • 6:57 | Jeannie used to make a big deal out of the little things. Then she got her brain tumor. And learned “we can’t really hide from pain.” Hear how Jeannie gave herself permission to grow from the pain.
  • 10:05 | Why I’m jealous of Jeannie’s brain tumor
  • 10:47 | When your world is crashing around you, you need support. Hear how Jeannie found her people.
  • 12:27 | The odd way Jeannie discovered she had a brain tumor
  • 15:30 | Where to find your community. And how to lean on people you wouldn’t normally lean on.
  • 16:49 | Break the boundary. Jeannie says why you should visit people in the hospital.
  • 18:16 | When Jeannie first had surgery. She had major complications. And was too sick to help herself. Hear how she learned to go of control when she needed to most…
  • 20:54 | It’s easy to put off healthcare. I do. I haven’t been to the doctor in decades. But Jeannie went to the doctor… and caught the brain tumor. It’s luck. Or it’s self-care. Or both. 
  • 21:57 | The challenge of being a caregiver… and how to make sense of sickness.
  • 23:35 | How to KNOW if someone is a good friend.
  • 24:31 | The medical side of brain cancer.
  • 31:07 | Jeannie was afraid of surgery. Because they were cutting into her brain. And there was a chance she won’t be you anymore. Jeannie walks me through this fear. And what it felt like.
  • 36:30 | We all need connection. Especially when we’re scared. When Jeannie woke up from surgery, she couldn’t talk. Everyone looked happy. Because she was awake. But she had no idea what was happening. And it made her angry. I felt sorry for her. I wanted to rewind. And help her understand what happened post-brain surgery. But I can’t. I wasn’t there. But thanks to Jeannie, I learned to be aware that people want and need to be comforted. And communicated to.
  • 38:37 | “I think therefore I am.” – Descartes. Jeannie describes the phenomena of waking up from surgery. And realizing you’re you.
  • 40:26 | Every patient has to make decisions. Along with the doctor. They asked Jeannie if she wanted a breathing tube. Or tracheostomy. One is a long-term solution. Another is a short-term solution. But both have downsides. How do you decide? Jeannie walks us through her decision making process. 
  • 42:26 | Jeannie never understood people who said, “If I were in that situation, I would pull the plug.” But then she understood. “I don’t know if I would do it,” she said. “But I wanted it to end.” She started having hallucinations. And dark dreams. That represented death. But then she realized what she was missing…
  • 45:50 | The importance of writing down your experience. And processing.
  • 46:22 | Jeannie’s started to feel “an innate desire to connect with a higher power.” So she started talked to God. She told him, “I love my life so much.” And she felt something shift.
  • 48:00 | The danger of overwhelming yourself. And mixing up your priorities.
  • 52:58 | How Jeannie got the confidence to believe she’d get better
  • 57:30 | How the doctors explained Jeannie’s condition to her kids.
  • 58:46 | When something bad happens, we want things to get back to normal. So I ask Jeannie what that point was for her
  • 1:06:00 | We can’t have huge life events. And not be changed by them. So I ask Jeannie what philosophies have changed for her
  • 1:08:02 | What it feels like to have gratitude for life.
  • 1:10:14 | Is it important to be ambitious? I ask Jeannie how her outlook on achievement has changed since getting cancer. 
  • 1:13:50 | How Jeannie’s book, “When Life Gives You Pears: The Healing Power of Family, Faith, and Funny People” impacted me. And my relationships with family and people I love

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