[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
When someone has breast cancer, it’s scary for them and for you, what can you do to really help? What should you say? Friends and family often have good intentions, but simply don’t know what to do. Today’s guest found herself being supported by an army of people immediately following her diagnosis, but not in a way that she found particularly helpful. After a friend asked her point blank what it was she did want, she poured onto paper what her and her family really needed from people, and the response was powerful. Here today to tell us about this list and how she got to a place of not only being able to accept help, but being able to give loving direction that helped save her family the most is Julie Hogan. Julie, welcome to the show.
[00:01:03] Julie Hogan: Hi, Adam. Thanks for having me. Thanks so much.
[00:01:06] Adam Walker: I’m excited to have you on the show today. This is great. I mean, getting help is, this is an important topic because people don’t know what to do. They don’t know what to say, and getting help is hard and giving help is hard. And so let’s, we’re going to talk about that, but first, let’s start by telling us a little bit about your story. We’d love to know a little bit about you, your breast cancer diagnosis, and just what was going on in your life at that time.
[00:01:27] Julie Hogan: Sure. All the fun stuff. So breast cancer diagnosis, I was 37. It was Labor Day weekend last summer, and I live coastally. I live up, up on the coast near Boston. And was putting on my bathing suit and felt a barely their bump.So that’s important to describe because I think often, you know, you hear the story and it was a lump or something that you would expect this was totally unexpected. Tiny little lump barely their bump. Under my nipple I had breastfed three kids. I had just finished breastfeeding. In fact my two and a half year old.
So I thought nothing of it. And brought it up. As you know, typically you talk about your body, you talk about things as a mom with your friends. And a really good friend of mine, Katie, is a nurse and she said, get that checked out immediately. And if it weren’t for my friend Katie, being all over me about getting it checked, I don’t know if I ever would.
So, went and described it, you know, picked up the phone and called my primary care doctor and said, I have a barely there bump. I wouldn’t even call it a lump. They weren’t concerned even with me sharing that over the phone and told me to just wait until my physical, which wasn’t until the end of October.
I told my friend that and she said, I don’t care. Find someone who will see you. So I ended up at my OB. My OB could barely feel it, but said You could never be sure, sent me to a breast care center, took a while to get things moving just because of how low risk everything seems and. Fast forward through a few more conversations.
I had stage three, HER2 positive invasive cancer that had spread to my lymph nodes. So it was a shock total shock. And then went on, you know, for the past year I had 12, 12 weeks of chemo, I had Taxol. I then had a double mastectomy and lymph node removal wrapped up radiation two weeks ago, and I’m now on a chemo regimen that’ll take me for 14 cycles into next year because I did have some residual disease.
So, it, you know, even before my diagnosis, and I think this is important to share, I was an active, I’m still active, but inactive and otherwise really healthy 37 year old, three young kids. They were eight, six, and three at the time of my diagnosis. I had no other symptoms. And I’m a tech exec., I have a career, I was busy in my career, and so it came out of nowhere. I don’t have a family history as well. It’s another thing to, to share. So total shock.
[00:04:08] Adam Walker: Wow.
[00:04:08] Julie Hogan: That’s where I was complete and total shock.
[00:04:11] Adam Walker: All right. So, so you were diagnosed and as we alluded to in the intro, people started showing up and helping you in a very specific way, but not necessarily way that you wanted. Can you tell me more about that?
[00:04:25] Julie Hogan: Yeah, and I’ll share with you, Adam. You know, it’s interesting as I’ve shared this story I got a lot of feedback of how ungrateful I sound and I want to put it out there that like, it’s okay to tell people what you need and what you want.
[00:04:40] Adam Walker: That’s right.
[00:04:41] Julie Hogan: In my career and in my life I make a living by offering direction and offering clarity. And in this moment in my life, I was going to continue to, You know, I think it it can happen where, when you feel like you are offering direction maybe you sound ungrateful, maybe you sound bossy. My feedback to other people is like, good.
[00:05:09] Adam Walker: Yeah. That’s okay. That’s fine.
[00:05:11] Julie Hogan: And in my world, at the moment of diagnosis as people do and as I had done with friends and family who had gone through, you know, traumatic moments in their life, you show up and what do you show up with usually food. And, you know, for my family, we were just figuring out and we had no idea what to expect.
But often when you’re initially diagnosed, takes a few weeks to figure out what’s next. And so as people we loved, were. Coming to us in the ways they knew how, you know, bringing food and showing up was creating disruption in our home. You know, my young kids who we had not yet told, because we didn’t have the right information to, to share with them, they were like, why are people showing up at the house?
What, why does everybody look so scared and sad? So we really needed to sort of put direction out there to, to the people in our life. And I share this too. You know, it’s not that we weren’t grateful, it’s that it wasn’t what our family needed. And so my husband and I really sat down and we were like, you know, we have so many, we’re so fortunate.
We have so many people in our life who want to help us and want to be there for us. What do we need? And we ended up, as you mentioned in the intro, coming up with a list of not only what we needed, but what we didn’t need to give some of that direction.
[00:06:30] Adam Walker: I mean, that’s so important. Because I feel like otherwise, I mean, nobody wants to do something nice for someone else that the other person’s not going to really appreciate.
Like, you don’t want to spend your time, you know, laboring over a meal that they’re not going to eat.
[00:06:44] Julie Hogan: Totally.
[00:06:45] Adam Walker: I mean, like, it doesn’t make any sense to do that. So why not just share with them like exactly what you need? And that way they can provide that. So, all right, so, so let’s talk about that then. So yeah how did you handle it? Like what was that like, like walk us through it.
[00:07:00] Julie Hogan: Yeah, so it, it’s interesting because the first and other people may relate, you’re sort of in this fog, right? You’ve been diagnosed with cancer, and in my case, you’ve been diagnosed with aggressive cancer. And we were in this period where we weren’t sure if this was treatable versus curable. We didn’t know what the next steps were going to be. We had not yet told our kids, because we didn’t know what to tell them. Yeah. We didn’t have all the information and so people started reaching out and saying, you know, who’s in charge of your meal train?
Who’s, and I was like, oh, I guess we have to do a meal train that’s what you do. You know, who’s in charge of taking you to appointments? And I was like, I guess we need to get people to sign up to take us to do this stuff. And it was first a moment of pause and say, and saying to ourselves you know, my husband Dave and I as a couple, like, we don’t have to do what we think we have to do. Like, we, and he looked at me and he was like, I don’t know if I want a meal train. Does that sound ungrateful? I was like, no, you’re being honest. Thank you. Yeah. And I said, I dunno if I want someone’s taking me to my treatments, I want to be with you. And it was a moment where I think, You lose so much control in a diagnosis like this.
We were finally starting to get a little bit back, and so we sat down and really put to paper. First what we didn’t need and there were three very specific things for us. It was food. And I recognize that this isn’t everybody else’s scenario. Right? Yeah. And our scenario particularly too is, you know, my career prior to my diagnosis, mealtime was really important to us. And my husband and I have a really great routine around cooking and sharing that experience together and with our kids and. For the time being, you know, I didn’t know how long I was going to feel able to do that.
[00:08:43] Adam Walker: Right.
[00:08:43] Julie Hogan: I didn’t want that to go away and so we didn’t need the food right now. Right. So that was one, like we, we recognized there was probably going to be a time, particularly as chemo, you know, revved up as I had my surgeries. We would need that help. And we did, you know, eventually. But in those moments, We were grateful, but we didn’t need it now. Right. The second thing we didn’t need I mentioned this already, were rides so grateful. And again, not every scenario is the same, but in our world, our kids were in school. We would be able to go in and out of the cancer clinic together and we wanted to be together.
[00:09:18] Adam Walker: Yeah.
[00:09:18] Julie Hogan: And that was sort of a personal journey the two of us wanted to have with each other. So we wanted to put it out there that like, we’re grateful for the offer, but we don’t need rides. And the third thing, and I think this is really common too, and something I wasn’t necessarily ready for, and I think this was the hardest one to say no to.
The introductions and so I sometimes share the joke, you know, being from the Boston area, everyone has like a brother’s, cousins, friends, sister’s, you know, friend from high school who had breast cancer. You know, jokingly I’ll say, it sounds like every Saturday night live episode of someone from Boston, you know, someone who knows someone. And at first said yes to every introduction and I soon realized you know, my, my own sort of naive mindset around breast cancer, how many different types there were, how many different journeys there could be, and I wasn’t yet grounded in what mine would be. And it was so overwhelming.
[00:10:16] Adam Walker: Yeah.
[00:10:16] Julie Hogan: To talk to all these people who had all these different things, who had all this different advice. And I didn’t even know what my journey was going to look like. So I finally had to say, you know, I am beyond grateful for all of these people who are willing to pour their stories and share their stories out to, to help me feel better about my own, but I’m not ready. I’m not ready for those introductions or those conversations.
[00:10:41] Adam Walker: Yeah. I mean, that would be so exhausting. Like just exhausting.
[00:10:45] Julie Hogan: It is. And Adam, it’s all with the best of intentions.
[00:10:47] Adam Walker: Well, yeah.
[00:10:48] Julie Hogan: And it’s interesting, you know, now I am the friend who has cancer, right? So I, you know, I am not the only person on earth who has had this diagnosis or will have it. So I’ve had other people in my life reach out when someone is newly diagnosed and say, “Hey, what would you talk to them?” And my feedback has been only if they’re ready, like I am more than happy to talk to anyone. And even, you know, very recently I hopped on the phone with someone who was about to have the same surgery, and I said, before we even chat, you can hang up on me and you won’t offend me because I know you, you are in a place right now where everything’s trying to make sense. And you’re trying to make sense of everything and you don’t have to talk to me right now. I’m here for you. But do not feel like you have to do this courtesy conversation if it’s not what you need right now. So I think that’s also always with the best of intentions you know, come the introductions, but you don’t have to receive them at that time.
[00:11:50] Adam Walker: So, all right. So, so you came up with the list specifically that you didn’t want.
[00:11:54] Julie Hogan: Yep. The the don’t want to haves.
[00:11:56] Adam Walker: Yeah. What, like, what happened next and how did, like how did you communicate all this and like- Yeah, like walk me through all that. Because that, yeah, that’s got to be a very nuanced approach.
[00:12:05] Julie Hogan: It’s, it is. because I also think particularly, women my age are sort of, it’s ingrained in you to be gracious and be grateful.
[00:12:14] Adam Walker: Yeah.
[00:12:14] Julie Hogan: And accept help wherever it comes. I literally pulled a form that I had used for something I’d used at work to, to put instructions together for something. And I said I’m going to do the same for my family. And so included in the things we didn’t want above that were the three things we landed on, knowing that we did want.
[00:12:33] Adam Walker: Okay.
[00:12:34] Julie Hogan: That would really help us be supportive to us. The first was the support of our kids. Which may seem of course, support your kids, but for us, you know, if we had to get really specific about what that meant, it meant using our language and matching our tone. And what I wanted to ensure was protected and maintained in our home was that we were on a path to healing. And we also wanted to ensure when people came in, There suddenly wasn’t this tone shift of yeah, you know, life is happy outside, but then in this house, right? She has cancer and we can’t be happy and life can no longer be light.
And I think you have to give permission to continue to treat you the same way, right? When you have a diagnosis like mine, because it does change. You know, people talk to you differently. But I think, you know, you see the Hollywood dramatized version of what someone with breast cancer acts like and looks and seems like. You need to present in the way you want to be treated. So I’ll get more into that. But we gave real specifics and I actually put slides together for how we were talking about my cancer with our family and the tone in our house.
[00:13:46] Adam Walker: I love that.
[00:13:47] Julie Hogan: Put slides, yeah. So we’ll go into it because that’s, you know, I think about my career, like that’s what I do for a living. I present a board meeting. Yeah. You build a deck and the storyline is, So we did the same thing.
[00:14:01] Adam Walker: It’s like a little miniature training. Like, you want to help? Great. Here’s the training. Go!
[00:14:05] Julie Hogan: Here’s the next step.
[00:14:07] Julie Hogan: Exactly. The second thing we asked for, were walking buddies. One of the things I really wanted to maintain was my health is sort of strange as that sounds, even though I’m going through this really challenging health crisis. I wanted to stay active. I’m an active person. I live outdoors as much as I can. We live near the beach, so I said, sign up to be a beach walk buddy. DM me on Instagram, text me, call me, let me know when you’re around and come take me for a walk.
[00:14:35] Adam Walker: Yeah.
[00:14:35] Julie Hogan: And that helped our family in two ways. My husband and I spent a lot of time together through Covid and now again through cancer. You know, he needs a break as a caregiver. So, so that was really helpful and also just unlocked this really amazing opportunity to connect with people in my life in different ways who maybe didn’t know how to help me or didn’t even think that, you know, going for a walk was going to be an option given, you know, my diagnosis and what was happening.
So Beach Walk Buddies was huge and we turned it into a whole thing where, you know, Two or three times a week, I was going up for a walk with someone from my life who was coming to spend time with me and see me. And then the third was music. So I talked a little bit about the vibe in our home and, you know, we’re a family where music is constantly playing and we actually came up with a Spotify channel.
And we named my cancer Barb because it looked like a barbell, like a little barbell in my boob. So we named my cancer Barb and a friend of mine came up with a tagline, “Buzz Off Barb.” So we made a buzz off Barb playlist and said what could be really helpful is if you add songs to the playlist. And I would put my, these headphones in underneath my cold cap when I got treatments. And as many other people listening probably have experienced you know, I was on the liquid Benadryl. So you get that and you start to go a bit into sleepy time. And I would listen to music and I’d see who was, who the song was posted from, and it gave me a really sort of nice moment to look forward to each time I had treatment of listening to songs that friends had put up and knowing who they were from. And then as I recovered from surgery, going through physical therapy recording. And other things to get my strength back, I would blast that music as I was exercising. So that’s been an unexpected gift that we never would’ve received if we only said, you know, keep the casseroles coming.
[00:16:32] Adam Walker: Yeah. So I got to ask them like, is there like an obscure, like what’s the most odd song or interesting song that get added to your playlist? Was there like just one in particular, or what?
[00:16:44] Julie Hogan: Yeah. So my brother, who is super creative, wrote a song called Buzz Off Barb. That was a surprise to me for Christmas that he put on. I’ll share the link so other people could listen to it.
[00:16:58] Adam Walker: Okay. Okay.
[00:16:59] Julie Hogan: So, sort of original song that kind of pokes fun at me. If you can imagine it, you know, it’s not, I think one would imagine a song about. You know, your older sister having breast cancer would be sad. But this actually kind of pokes fun at like, “Hey, what did you get for Christmas? You got breast cancer.” And so using humor was really, you know, a another gift.
[00:17:23] Adam Walker: During this whole thing, did your brother tell you he was doing this or did you just like show up on your playlist one day and you’re like, what is happening right now?
[00:17:30] Julie Hogan: He told me he had a gift for me. And that was the gift. That was the gift. But what a great gift. It was hysterical and it was so great. So I’ll if we can make it available, I’ll share the playlist and the song, it’s called Buzz Off Barb.
[00:17:42] Adam Walker: Yeah, I love that.
[00:17:44] Julie Hogan: Yeah. And what’s great too, you know, we’re all from the Boston area, so Barb sounds more like Bob. Yeah. In the song.
[00:17:50] Adam Walker: I love it. I love it. All right, so, so you mentioned a couple times the tone that you used in your home with your kids and sort of the language that you used around your kids. I wonder, like, could you talk a little bit more about what that tone was and specifically what language you used and how that helped them?
[00:18:07] Julie Hogan: Yeah, so going back to what we didn’t want and what we wanted we started sort of story mapping what we wanted this conversation to look like. And I first landed on, you know, if the outcome of this conversation, because ultimately you do have to sit down and tell your children, you know, arguably one of the worst conversations in your life, what didn’t I want? And what I shared was like, you know what I don’t want, and I don’t know if this is even a possibility to avoid, but I don’t want the dramatic movie scene where children are sitting around a table eating dinner. You hear the knives and forks on the plates. We’ve all seen that movie and suddenly the parent says, kids, I have to tell you something. And then boom drop, you know, there, there comes this. You know, life-changing, horrible thing.
And what I also didn’t want is the burden of fear passed on to them in the same way it was boiling through my husband and I. And so as parents of kids who were eight, six, and three I felt really strongly it was our responsibility to use language that allowed them to have the tools they needed to talk about it. In a way that felt right. And I leaned heavily into, you know, what I do for a living. And you know, when you present a board deck or a revenue deck, you don’t tell the whole story. You also do not tell the truth, right? So I think that’s really important, right? We’re not obfuscating information, we’re not trying to paint a rosy picture.
We’re trying to give information that’s going to help your audience best understand what’s going on. And so, you know, trying to lean into that. It’s like, if I were presenting what was going on, am I going to go all the way into the details of like, all of my scans and all of the what if scenarios?
[00:19:55] Adam Walker: Right.
[00:19:56] Julie Hogan: That’s not appropriate. For right now, And the other thing too is like my husband and I talked a little bit about like what is our relationship as a family with the word cancer and cancer? Because a lot of people I had sort of leaned into for advice had said, well, kids their age don’t understand cancer. So like, it won’t be scary to them. And in, in our world, unfortunately, my, my college roommate had passed away at the age of 30 from brain cancer and they knew what cancer was and in fact understood the. The sort of correlation between cancer and death. And so for them, that word carries a lot. And so the other thing was understanding, you know, where our kids’ minds were at and my eight-year-old is very much into graphic novels. You know, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and books that are sort of like comic book-esque. And so, yeah. I sort again, storyboarding a little bit, I said, you know, this is a story, this is a storyline, and I’m going to tell the story the way I want to.
[00:20:57] Adam Walker: Yeah.
[00:20:57] Julie Hogan: And so we sort of rolled with that idea of the nickname we had given my cancer of Barb, right. And turned Barb into the villain. If you ever, you know, you sort of think about the foundation of any storyline. There’s the villain and then there’s the hero. And so once we had the facts, this was another point for us, we were not going to tell any story until we knew the facts, right? Was this curable versus treatable? What would my plan be? Would I have an opportunity to keep my hair? You know, all of those were going to feed into how we told the story. because so many pieces of literature out there about your parents having cancer shows like a very sick person without hair.
[00:21:40] Adam Walker: Yeah.
[00:21:40] Julie Hogan: And I didn’t want to paint a picture of something we didn’t know if that was going to be what I looked like.
[00:21:45] Adam Walker: Right.
[00:21:45] Julie Hogan: And so, where we landed was creating these characters. So Barb was the villain and Barb was a boob eating beast, that was in my boob that needed to go away. And we knew that I was going to be on a clinical trial with the acronym Margot. So Margot was the superhero. And so Margot Medicine was something I was going to get through this new device I had implanted called a port, and we actually showed, I can share with you some of the images of this. We showed the visual of Margo Medicine going into the port to then blast Barb out of my boob.
Right? And I was going to go into Boston to get my Margot medicine for 12 weeks, and the goal was to make sure Barb shrunk. And that truly was the goal. The goal of this clinical trial was let’s shrink the cancer as much as possible, as well as the friends Barb had made under mom’s armpits. So my cancer, which was spread to my lymph nodes, that’s how we described it. Then mom would need to get surgery to get rid of anything that was left over to make sure Barb never came back. And then after surgery, I was getting laser beans. To really make sure she never came back and to burn her house down and the little houses that had been built where her friends were. So this was told through sort of comic book style slides and our kids are also super into animals, as I think a lot of kids are, and snakes and venom. And so just like anti-venom has really good qualities in that it’ll save your life. There are some side effects that can happen when you get into venom and we talked about that as the analogy for, you know, this Margo medicine, while it’s doing its job, it could have some side effects, meaning I could be really tired, I could feel kind of icky, I could lose my hair.
But we weren’t sure. And we just didn’t know. And what’s funny, a quick aside on that, In the imagery I used, I showed a sort of smiley face with blue hair and shared with my kids, you know, my hair may be sensitive, meaning it might hurt or it might fall out.
[00:24:03] Adam Walker: Yeah.
[00:24:03] Julie Hogan: And two weeks after getting my Margo, my three-year-old was like, mom, “Why hasn’t your hair turned blue yet?” like the picture you showed me. So that just shows how like literal kids are.
[00:24:12] Adam Walker: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:24:13] Julie Hogan: But those became the slides, you know, in a nutshell. The, that storyline became the storyline of how we’re talking about it. And you know, one thing you know, you’ll notice in my language, what we didn’t say is, mom is very sick and mom has cancer.
We, my son asked, he said, is this cancer? And I said, yes. And he said, oh, okay. And I shared with him, you know, a lot of women have cancers like Barb and get treatment for it, like mom is and end up perfectly fine and healthy. And that truly is the prognosis that was shared with my doctors, with my team. And so that’s that’s what we shared back with our kids. I did not talk about death. And should that question arise from my children, the conversation my husband and had and I have had is, you know, if they do ask like, mom, could you die? My answer truly, honestly, and I you know, my answer to you, Adam, to that question is, I don’t think so, and I hope not. I don’t plan to, and that’s the truth.
[00:25:13] Adam Walker: Yeah. Right. Yeah. I mean that’s I love that approach, you know, and in particular like that idea of, share the story that and the parts that need to be shared for them to be able to process in the way that they need to process.
[00:25:28] Julie Hogan: Exactly.
[00:25:29] Adam Walker: Without necessarily oversharing. You know, like we, you don’t necessarily have to share to overshare per, per se.
[00:25:34] Julie Hogan: Right.
[00:25:35] Adam Walker: Or even share in your own fears necessarily.
[00:25:38] Julie Hogan: Right.
[00:25:38] Adam Walker: And I think like sometimes as parents we sort of lean onto that like, We just have to tell them everything and just kind dump it all. And maybe we don’t need to do that. It seems wise to withhold some of that. So-
[00:25:50] Julie Hogan: And I’ll share too, even in this, I almost found, I probably shared more than I would have. And because we were sharing it in a way that they were able to understand and digest.
[00:26:00] Adam Walker: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:26:01] Julie Hogan: So I, again, in no way was I keeping information from them, right. But I’m sharing information in a way that was easier for them to process and also ask questions about and talk about. And what was interesting, my eight year old was like, can I see Barb? And you know, he, I breast fed him, all three of my kids pretty long, but I was going. I’ll ask the doctor the next time I’m there to print me a picture of the sonogram we had and circle for you what Barb looks like.
[00:26:33] Adam Walker: Right.
[00:26:33] Julie Hogan: So I, you know, ask the doctor and I’d say, you know, this is a piece of advice for anyone get. Get your kids appropriately involved and just ask, you know? So I asked and I said, listen, I would like a photo that I can share with my son. And so he saw it. I was like, oh, wow. That’s like, that’s, that does look like a barbell and I can see it. So the science of it was somewhat interesting to him. He also was curious, you know, when I had my surgery, what they would do with Barb and could I take her home in a jar? And I was like, oh, you know, actually, would like to do that too. And we were fortunate enough that the clinical trial had worked enough that Barb had shrunk so much, there was nothing to see.
So, you know, there was nothing there. The, somewhat unfortunate piece was I had some microscopic residual cancer in my lymph nodes, which is why I’m. You know, back on some additional chemo. And then even sharing that with my kids, you know, we continued the storyline the authentic truthful storyline of like, hey, there’s this one little bit of the house that was made under mom’s armpits that we just need to make extra sure goes away and never comes back. So we get some more medicine.
[00:27:42] Adam Walker: I love that. That’s so great. That’s so great.
[00:27:44] Julie Hogan: Thank you.
[00:27:45] Adam Walker: So, so not everybody is, it’s not as easy for everybody to be as sort of forthcoming, I think, as you are with people in their lives. So, so what advice do you have? For our listeners on how to dial into what it is they really need while they’re undergoing treatment?
I feel like you’ve done a amazing job of this as someone that’s been overwhelmed and sort of dealt with that. So do you have any sort of tangible advice on sort of how they can get started with this process?
[00:28:10] Julie Hogan: Yeah and again, like I’m just figuring this out. I had no intention going into it. The way I did this truly was I sat down and wrote a list and I operate really well. And I think people in general do, in, in buckets of three, like no more than three, you can you sit down with a piece of paper, like it does not have to be fancy. You do not need a PowerPoint or Excel. Get a piece of paper and a pencil and write down like what are the three things in this moment you really need, like what do and like if you have to be really honest with yourself, like what do you really need?
And what are the three things you really don’t or do not want? And I think you might surprise yourself. Like even for me. I dunno if I would’ve landed on, you know, I really want music, but, and I had to explore that a little bit because my reaction too in this other may feel the same way. My initial reaction, and I think maybe this is defense, sort of dealing with what’s happening was like, I don’t need anything. I’m fine. I need people to leave me alone. I need a cocoon around my family and I want everyone to go away.
[00:29:10] Adam Walker: Right, right.
[00:29:10] Julie Hogan: Like so you have, I think this is helpful in working through that, where being very honest with yourself that people want to help you. This is a time in your life where you need help, but you can have it on your terms. Help doesn’t have to be casseroles, it doesn’t have to be, if you, and here’s the thing, if you want it to be casseroles, that’s fine. Ask for that. If you feel like crap and you want someone bringing you cookies, say that.
Say that now more than ever is your opportunity to tell people what you really need. And I think in some way it’s empowering. You’ll get some of your power back from, you know, so much of it that is taken from you in this disease by simply listing for yourself with people who are ready to show up for you, how do you need them to show up and what are the tactical, explicit things you can put to paper?
[00:29:56] Adam Walker: So, so let me ask one final question about this because there, there may, because I can imagine there’s somebody listening and they’re like, okay, I can do that. I can make a list of things I want. I can make a list of things I don’t want, but I can imagine them being fearful about how people will respond.
[00:30:11] Julie Hogan: Yeah.
[00:30:11] Adam Walker: And so can you talk a little bit about like, how did people respond when you said, no casseroles, but here’s what I do need. Like, like how did that work? How did that go for you?
[00:30:19] Julie Hogan: Yeah, so listen you get some of the, hmmm and you get some of the you know, particularly too, depending on your family dynamic.
You know, I grew up in an Italian, Irish family were like, food is everything. You show up with food, that’s what you do. You feed people and you may have some people, this happened to me, say, well, no I know you think that, but you real, you really are going to need this. I’m going to bring it to your house. So, so it’s okay. Like, some people are going and the reason that happens, what I realize is like it is, Very uncomfortable for people to be told what to do. However, people often will surprise you with how much they like direction. And a couple examples outside of cancer that I’ll give; when you go to a wedding and there are table assignments, people are happy to not have to think. They’re like, I just get to sit here, that’s great. I don’t have to worry about him sitting next to. When you get a list of things that people want for their wedding, for their baby shower, you are like, great, this is what they need, I’m going to buy that.
[00:31:22] Adam Walker: Right.
[00:31:23] Julie Hogan: Why does that have to end? When someone is sick, or that’s right when someone is at this moment of need. So –
[00:31:29] Adam Walker: That’s right.
[00:31:30] Julie Hogan: I would say your own hesitation perhaps, is just because of your own blockage around it, or if you’ve not experienced it before. And perhaps the fact that like there probably are going to be people in your life who are offended by it, and like, you kinda have to just accept that, but that’s ok.
[00:31:47] Adam Walker: Yeah.
[00:31:48] Julie Hogan: You know, I would just, I would challenge people to think through, you know, all these other moments in our life, the good moments in our life where we offer direction and say,
[00:31:56] Adam Walker: Yeah, right.
[00:31:56] Julie Hogan: You know, we need these things. And to be clear too, this is not, we’re not asking people for, you know, vacuums and China like you are at a wedding. This is a, could you please put songs on a playlist for me?
[00:32:09] Adam Walker: Yeah.
[00:32:09] Julie Hogan: That’s what I need in this moment where, you know, I’m facing like people will respond I think perhaps better, better than you think they would.
[00:32:16] Adam Walker: All right, so, so then last question, and I promise I’ll let you go. Do you currently have any casseroles in your freezer that were delivered to you?
[00:32:23] Julie Hogan: I knew you were going to ask that! Sorry mom, if you’re listening, my mom made me an eggplant that is still in my freezer. It is.
[00:32:36] Adam Walker: Alright. Well, I had to ask, sorry mom.
[00:32:39] Julie Hogan: It’s ok. It’s ok.
[00:32:40] Adam Walker: You meant well. It’s good. It’s so, it’s Well Julie genuinely your story is inspiring your approach, it’s just very refreshing and I find it very encouraging and I think our listeners will as well. Thank you. Just thank you so much for joining us on the show today.
[00:32:55] Julie Hogan: Thanks for having me. And if I could offer maybe one parting comments as well.
[00:32:59] Adam Walker: Yeah, please do.
[00:33:00] Julie Hogan: You know, one thing, I think the lesson I’ve taken from all of this is the importance of action. And so something I’ve recently launched that I’d love listeners to, to check out is something I’ve started because of how I found my cancer. I found my cancer putting on my bathing suit and squeezing my boobs. And I use that language very explicitly because women my age, that’s how we talk. We’re comfortable with our breasts. We call them boobs, we squeeze them. I was putting my boobs into my bathing suit and felt that barely their bump. So I launched something called seasonforsqueezin.org. We’re @seasonforsqueezin in on Instagram. And our message is for women to give themselves a squeeze every time they suit up in their swimwear this summer.
So I know much of breast cancer awareness is in October. For women my age, that’s sweater season. When our boobs are out, when we’re out with our kids, let’s use this season of summer to give ourselves a squeeze. And we have a mission of getting swimwear call to action tags out into the market. So I’d love for people, you know, if you take anything away from today’s conversation it’s the message of action.
Like, take action, be an advocate for yourself. For me, it was not, you know, one of the, you know, 15 descriptors of what a self-breast exam was. It was squeezing and finding a barely bare bump. So please squeeze each time you suit up in your swimwear and make the commitment that if you feel anything, be seen before the next time you put your swimwear on.
[00:34:30] Adam Walker: That’s right. That’s seasonforsqueezin.org. It’s an excellent website.
[00:34:34] Julie Hogan: Yes.
[00:34:34] Adam Walker: So, certainly go there. That’s great. I love that you’re doing that well.
[00:34:37] Julie Hogan: Thanks Adam.
[00:34:37] Adam Walker: Thank you. Thank you for sharing that with us.
[00:34:39] Julie Hogan: Of course. Of course. Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.
[00:34:45] Adam Walker: Thanks for listening to Real Pink, a weekly podcast by Susan G. Komen. For more episodes, visit realpink.Komen.org. And 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 @AJ Walker or on my blog adamjwalker.com.