Happy 200th, Real Pink

[00:00:00] Adam Walker: From Susan G. Komen, this is Real Pink, a podcast exploring real stories, struggles, and triumphs related to breast cancer. We’re taking the conversation from the doctor’s office to your living room.

[00:00:14] Samantha Harris: Hello, everyone. This is Samantha Harris. Some of you might know me from my eight seasons hosting Dancing with the Stars, or many years on Entertainment Tonight, or even my new game show.

But what I’m passionate about is Komen as a breast cancer thriver as someone who has been a national ambassador for Susan G. Komen for many, many years since. 2014 diagnosis. And so health and wellness and living your healthiest healthy life is what I have changed my whole trajectory of my career path as TV host to Certified Health Coach and the your healthiest healthy community.

But I love being back here on this. Real Pink podcast. We’re going to do it a little differently today because you’re hearing my voice before you’re hearing our regular host Adam’s voice. But today we are celebrating the 200th episode of The Real Pink Podcast. And first of all, we want to take this opportunity to thank all of the listeners, the amazing guest who have been on the.

Show their support and their partnership in working towards Komen’s mission of saving lives and finding cures for breast cancer. I was the very first guest on this show, and so I am thrilled to be back here today because I have the pleasure of turning at the tables on our incredible host and interviewing him to learn more about his passion for this cause and what he has learned over the past 200.

Episodes. So I know this is going to sound a little weird to you, Adam, but welcome to the show, Adam Walker ,

[00:01:52] Adam Walker: Samantha. So good to see you again and no pressure with that lead up.

[00:01:56] Samantha Harris: ,So, you are, you are an incredible podcast host. I, again, am so grateful to have been the first guest on this show and now 200 episodes later, so many people have shared their stories, their heartache.

Amazing hurdles. They’ve overcome their victories and lifted up so many other women and men who have gone through breast cancer surgeries, treatments, diagnosis, and the whole battle that it is the journey. We know you as the positive host of this podcast, and you are seriously such an amazing human being.

So if you would just actually. Turning the tables on you. Why don’t you tell the listeners a little bit about you? All

[00:02:44] Adam Walker: right. Let’s see. I’ll do the best I can here. So I always start my bios with I’m a husband first. I’m a father of five. We’re in the process of adopting child number six, but he’s in China, and that’s on hold due to Covid at the time.

And I’m a serial entrepreneur, so I’m always looking to start things and do things and grow things, and I can’t ever seem to stop. So I love hosting podcasts. It’s super fun. This is one of. One of my most favorite things that I’ve ever done and ever I think will do well,

[00:03:16] Samantha Harris: and something so different than other things that you have done in the past.

200 episodes. A podcast, it’s a lot of time to spend on a podcast that focuses specifically around a, a. Specific topic, and in this case, breast cancer. So what is your personal connection to breast cancer? Where did this passion for this podcast come from?

[00:03:38] Adam Walker: Yes. It, I think it started at least preliminarily with my grandmother. So she had breast cancer and it was when I was a kid and she was a part of that generation of women that you would sort of hear has breast cancer. And then you would like hear little updates here and there, but nothing really serious. And then suddenly she’s fine and she’s normal grandma again and you’re a kid and you’re like, oh, well that was magical and must not have been a very big deal. But obviously it’s a huge deal and she had a mastectomy along the way. And, and so, in, in, in talking to more people, I’m really passionate about helping to. Talk, like conversational, like we can talk about these things. We can have these conversations. We can be real with one another. We can be honest, we can be vulnerable. And I wish my grandmother had been able to be a little bit more vulnerable with me and maybe she was with my parents, I don’t know, but certainly not with the grandkids.

[00:04:32] Samantha Harris: And it’s interesting that you share that experience with your grandmother because I too went through my childhood with my grandmother having breast cancer.

She was in her early sixties when she was diagnosed. She lived to 95. So grateful for her path before mine so that I knew that you could potentially have a very, very long and healthy life into old age after breast cancer. But same thing where we. Really know about it. We didn’t really know she was kind of even going through it.

It was this cancer thing she had to whisper. So the fact that you’ve brought this podcast to such success with so many stories and. The, the ability to have people talk about it openly because I do remember when I was going I was past my treatment. I was actually at a charity event for a charity that helped women learn how to put their wigs on and their makeup and draw redraw eyebrows and so on after chemo and other therapies.

And the woman sitting next to me as I was volunteering, whispered, I’m so glad you’re here because I can talk to you about my cancer. because I haven’t told anyone in my family that I’m going through. Yeah. And my heart broke for her. My heart broke for her. Because we need to have that community, we need to have that village around us to be able to lift ourselves out of what can be a very, very scary time.

Yeah. And to be able to get through it to the other side and live as, as healthfully and as vibrantly as possible after cancer. And so thank you for doing the Real Pink podcast, because it’s what helps give so many women a voice. Well,

[00:06:04] Adam Walker: And you know, I hope that this doesn’t apply to the women in my life, but it probably will.

I mean, one in eight women end up being diagnosed with breast cancer. . And so I, I have a. I have two daughters. I, I imagine at some point I’ll probably have some granddaughters and grandsons. I mean, you know, cause it affects men too. And so it, it is affecting people that I care about. It is affecting friends that I care about right now today, and it will affect people in my family in the future.

And so we have to do something now to impact their futures for them in the future.

[00:06:40] Samantha Harris: So I know I keep saying that big number, 200 episodes, but that’s a wonderful place to get What? A huge feat. So 200 episodes, three and a half years of doing these incredible interviews, helping so many. What Adam would you say you have learned from this podcast, from it’s interviewees and what has it meant to you for to be the host? So what have you learned? We’ll start there.

[00:07:04] Adam Walker: I think the first thing is I’ve learned how much. I still don’t know. Man, there’s just so much there’s so much about. Human suffering. There’s so much about human thriving. There’s so much about the medicine. And there’s just, it’s such a vast topic that’s important for us to talk about.

So, but a few things that occurred to me as I was reflecting on this, the first is I’ve heard over and over on the show again, always listen to your body. Always listen to your body. Always listen to your body. And there’s so many stories where women were dismissed, you know, that I’ve got a lump.

And the doctor dismissed them and they advocated for themselves and pushed, and pushed and pushed and got what they needed. And that’s the second listen I’ve, I’ve heard over and over is always advocate for yourself. Don’t be dismissed too easily because it’s your life, it’s your body and you know it better than everyone else.

And so you’ve got to listen and you’ve got to advocate. The third thing I wrote down is your mindset. Matters and is one thing you can control because with breast cancer, I mean, you can’t necessarily control how your body responds to treatments or so many other things, but you can control how you respond.

You can’t control your mindset. You can’t control how you want to respond to each individual situation. I’m in the fourth theme that I’ve purchased over and over and over again. People want to help. And that’s actually been really encouraging, like hearing all of these different women and even men and how they just desperately want to help someone that’s going through this journey.

And people want to help. But there’s a few caveats here, right? The first is they want to help, but if you don’t tell them how they might help in ways that aren’t helpful, you know, a hundred percent. So you gotta, you’ve got, they want to help and you have to tell them how they can help, even if it’s just buy a gift card to Publix or something like that.

But they want to help tell them how to help and also take them with you to doctor’s appointments, because so often I’ve heard so many women, They walk into the doctor’s office, they sit down and then it’s just kind of this white noise and it’s all lost. And so take them with you, how, let them write notes down and take notes for you and then review it later.

But people do, gen people are really amazing and people genuinely want to help and make a difference for you.

[00:09:16] Samantha Harris: They do. I, one of the, one of the things that I learned when I was going through all of my surgeries and treatment, To tell people what you need. Right. And that’s hard to do as a patient.

So what I’ve learned coming outta the patient experience is to tell someone what I’m going to do for them instead of asking them what I can do. People don’t want to ask for help. It’s hard to be in that position. Yep. So, you know. Ask is, does not so helpful. Tell, don’t ask. Yeah, right. I’m going to take breakfast.

I’m going to bring you dinner tomorrow night. Do you want the vegetarian option or do you want some sort of meat? Can I make you a chicken? Right. What it’s like when they’re little, when little kids, you’re like, Hey, I’m going to get you dressed today. Do you want to wear the blue shirt or the red shirt?

Of course my kids would say, I. Like the pink one, like or the yellow one or something that I’m not offering, but thankfully adults are better about it. So the idea that we give just, you give them, giving them. Some choice. , but telling that you’re going to do it. Yeah. The other thing you mentioned, which I also have heard from so many survivors and thrivers and what I talk about, number one, when people ask me about this experience is to become your own best health advocate.

And to know your body. Yeah. And to notice those changes. I found my lump 11 days after a clear mammogram. I had two doctors over the course of four months tell me that lump was nothing after a quick clinical exam. And you have to sometimes get really quiet to listen to the inner voice, right? Yeah. To say, Yeah.

You know, so I didn’t feel like I had cancer. I really didn’t. I just, I felt fine. I felt amazing. I was going along my day. I felt very grateful that it didn’t affect my health in terms of my day to day at that point. But I did find a lump that didn’t sit right with me, that it was there. And you were just going to say, Yeah, you’re just going to live with it.

That’s just, you get lumpy breasts when you’re over 40. That was literally the answer I was given.

[00:11:15] Adam Walker: Yeah, it’s terrible. Terrible.

[00:11:17] Samantha Harris: We have to, we have to be advocates for our own health, and we have to listen to our bodies and know, notice the changes internally and externally, from lumpy breasts to mold checks to what’s in your toilet bowl, to how you bloated your feeling differently than a different day. Yeah. All of those make a difference.

[00:11:32] Adam Walker: Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. So important.

[00:11:35] Samantha Harris: Well, definitely you’ve learned so much from so many people. What then are some of the most memorable stories or those moments that have really stuck with you? Cause I can imagine there are probably a lot. So if you can just weed it down to maybe, I don’t know, two or three of them.

[00:11:51] Adam Walker: Well, you know, so I, I will say one memorable moment was, was honestly episode number one, where, I mean, you know, in all fairness on episode number one, like I had a tech news podcast that I’ve been doing for seven years now called Tech Talk Y’all But, but this is like the next podcast that I’d done and I hadn’t really done a lot of interviews.

And interview number one is interviewing you, whom I’ve watched on TV, with Dancing with the Stars. So that was memorable, to say the least. You were so kind and I think even afterwards, I even asked for your advice. On, you know, on interview styles. And you were very kind. It was really great.

[00:12:26] Samantha Harris: Well, you, I mean, you had, you didn’t need my advice.You were doing a such an incredible job anyway. You’re a natural and clearly you’re a, not only a natural, but you’re also incredibly seasoned now. So, yeah.

[00:12:36] Adam Walker: Well, I’ve had a, I’ve had the benefit of experience for sure. It’s been great. But yeah, a couple of those that come to mind you, I remember.

Interviewing I think it was Chaunte Lowe, the Olympian, and talking to her about how she was training for the Olympics while undergoing treatment for breast cancer, which I was just completely dumbfounded by. The amount of personal strength it has to take to do, it takes so much personal strength to do one of those things, but to do both at the same time is just absolutely unbelievably remarkable.

Right, right. You know I’ve, I’ve really enjoyed. The two series we’ve started recently, the Stand for Her Creating Health Equity for the Black Community. That’s really meant a lot to me and I’ve really enjoyed being able to be a part of that conversation, but mostly honestly, just listening. To that conversation because there’s just so much to learn there and to grow.

And then, and then of course the real talk that we’ve been doing to destigmatize some of these conversations has been really important to me as well. I mean, and that, you know, Paul Schneider, CEO of Komen is great. I’ve gotten to interview her I think two or three times as well. And her story about Oh, is fantastic.

She’s just, I mean, so dynamic. So, I mean, just a force to be reckoned with, you know, and. You know her talking about running this huge company while going through breast cancer and not necessarily talking about it. I mean, it. I’m so inspired by so many people that I’ve talked to over the years, and it’s really been a profound honor to be able to talk to so many of these people.

[00:14:03] Samantha Harris: Hmm. And we are grateful that you have and brought out so many conversations to share with our community and, and be able to allow us to be more empowered by hearing those stories. I feel we, by sharing our own stories and hearing the stories of others, that’s how we become empowered. I want, I want to talk to you too about the fact that having.

Hard conversations. Here, right. Is what has been made this podcast extra special because the, it’s those hard conversations, the ability to break those stigmas that are oftentimes surrounding different cancers. And breast cancer, thankfully, is getting more of a voice, but. It’s very important to be able to do that.

I’m, I’m so grateful that you had me on as the first guest. I would’ve come on anytime. I didn’t have to be the first but being able to tell my own story was also really important to me because first, the reason one thing is too, when I shared my story publicly, Very soon after my diagnosis, I feared a backlash a little bit because I’d never wanted anyone to think this was an opportunistic moment, you know, the Kardashian like moment of like, this is what’s happening.

And so for that reason, I actually almost didn’t share my story. I almost kept it very private with my family. And then had this thought, what if there’s one woman out there walking around with a lump that she found that her doctors told her was nothing but is actually. I don’t share my story.

How will I feel if I later. Could have helped that woman. And I find out. And so that’s what propelled me to share my story and be very open and transparent throughout my journey. And I’m really glad that I did not only because I, like, I had one woman who literally had the exact same thing.

She, Dr. Solder, it was nothing. And her friends heard my story on, I can’t remember Good Morning America or something. And they said, oh my God, you ha Lisa, you have to listen to the story. She said, oh my God, that’s me. I need to go back to my doctor. And she did. And it turned out not only did she have breast cancer, her surgery was the same day as mine at the same hospital with the partner of my doctors

And she had reached out to me on Facebook and shared this story with me. We’ve actually become friends and we’ve gone hiking. And it’s so nice to so for that reason, I’m grateful. And I’ve heard many more stories also that that’s helped people, but also it ended up giving back. You know, it’s that idea of almost, I’m going to liken it to volunteerism in.

Hmm. We volunteer and we’re giving and we’re helping others in the community. There’s all of that. You get back, and what I got back when I shared my story were so many survivors where I was on the other side, right? I hadn’t crossed over to the new normal, to the other side. I was in that fear, scared, approaching surgery, approaching treatments, figuring out what the heck I was going to do on this cancer journey, and what I was able.

Get back from sharing my story and being public and why we were just talking earlier in the podcast about why it’s important to have that village around you and share that you’re going through this and not keep it. Tightlipped is because we need that support system and we need that village, and I got this outpouring from those who had gone through it, who shared their stories of survival with me that allowed me to be guided on my.

Without as much fear, trepidation, and knowing that I could get through this. And that’s, that’s what your podcast, that’s what the real pink What Real Pink is doing. Yeah. It’s allowing that for so many people so that I also am so, so grateful to be a part of it and to share and to hear all the stories of others who have been sharing for, for so long.

So Adam Walker, the podcast host to end all podcast host. Are there any other things you want to add before we give a little wrap up here?

[00:17:56] Adam Walker: I mean, I, I, the one thing that I thought of as you were just talking was that the breast cancer community is kind of amazing in, in, its in its strength, in its support of one another.

You know, it. It’s very, it’s very interesting to me to be a, a part of this in a very small way, trying to elevate so many stories of so many amazing people and really just kind of stay out of the way as best I can in that process. And I, and I’m so honored to just be able to stand on the sideline and, and, and cheer and, and, and help and hope and, and just try to help move things forward in any little way that, that I’m able to. And it’s, it’s such a wonderful, wonderful cayse,

[00:18:40] Samantha Harris: Well, a hundred percent and I’m so glad that you shared that as well. On behalf of everyone at Susan G. Komen, they want to make sure that I extend a huge thanks to you. For all of the work that you have done here on the podcast, to all of the listeners, on behalf of them, thank you for bringing the stories of everyone to the Real Pink Podcast.

You are an incredible person. You are an incredible father. I’m sure your husband will, your wife would also say you’re an incredible husband and especially since you named her as the number one importance. That was very smart. I like that. Happy wife, happy life. But thank you for all the incredible support and compassion you have given to the breast cancer community over all these years. 200 episodes. And here’s to another successful 200, and then.

[00:19:35] Adam Walker: That’s right. That’s right. Thanks, Samantha. Really appreciate it.

Thanks for listening to Real Pink, a weekly podcast by Susan G Komen. For more episodes, visit RealPink.com. For more on breast cancer, visit Komen.org. Make sure to check out at Susan G Komen on social media. I’m your host, Adam, you can find me on Twitter @AJWalker or on my blog, AdamJWalker.com.