In these uncertain times when so many people around the world are anxious and struggling with unknowns, staying positive and focusing on emotional health is vital. Today on Real Pink, we have the honor of welcoming back a very special guest to the show. Emmy-winning TV host, author, certified health coach & trainer, cancer survivor & thriver, healthy living advocate and unstoppable optimist Samantha Harris is here to help guide us through the best ways to achieve overall health and some tips to stay positive and hopeful throughout this pandemic.
A seasoned entertainment journalist and Emmy-winning television host, Samantha Harris may best be known for her eight seasons as the co-host of Dancing With the Stars and from many years on Entertainment Tonight. Harris is also a health and fitness expert, author, mom and breast cancer survivor.
In 2014, at the age of 40, Samantha was diagnosed with Stage II invasive breast cancer. Her cancer story and message are unique. Just days after a clear mammogram, Samantha found a lump in her breast. Although two doctors told her it was “nothing”, she listened to her gut and persevered. When she went to see a surgical oncologist, although tests still did not detect cancer, they removed the lump. The pathology then showed it was indeed invasive ductal carcinoma. After a subsequent double mastectomy, they found it had also spread to one lymph node.
Now, three surgeries later, Samantha is cancer-free and healthier than ever!
Ms. Harris’s diagnosis led her and her husband to create www.GottaMakeLemonade.com to “inspire positivity in the face of adversity”. Whether illness and health issues, an injury, a relationship disappointment, or a career-low – the site helps embolden those who have been faced with one of life’s many challenges to turn it into a positive, better outcome via shared personal and exceptionally inspiring stories.
She is the author of the new book, Your Healthiest Healthy: 8 Easy Ways to Take Control, Help Prevent and Fight Cancer, and Live A Longer, Cleaner, Happier Life (Sterling Publishing, Sept 2018).
This non-stop fitness enthusiast is an 11-time Covergirl for fitness and health magazines and is also a Certified Personal Trainer. Samantha made her Broadway debut, singing and dancing for sold-out audiences playing the iconic role of “Roxie Hart” in the long-running musical CHICAGO.
Samantha has also served as a host/correspondent for The Insider, Access Hollywood, Extra, and E! News. She also served as a special correspondent for Good Morning America and filled in as guest host on Access Hollywood Live, Hollywood Live Today and Daily Blast Live, along with many others. She has also co-hosted the official live Academy Awards Red Carpet show as well as the live Critics’ Choice Red Carpet.
Samantha shares more on her website: https://samantha-harris.com/
Help is needed now more than ever. Susan G Komen established the Komen COVID-19 action fund to support urgent needs among our breast cancer community today. Whether it’s providing answers and counsel for those who can’t see a doctor in-person to those that need financial or treatment assistance, visit coronavirus.komen.org and donate today.
Support for real pink comes from Genentech, a member of the Roche group who pursues groundbreaking science to discover and develop medicines for people with breast cancer. Learn more at gene.com. 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.
In these uncertain times when so many people around the world are anxious and struggling with unknowns. Staying positive and focusing on emotional health is vital. Today on Real Pink, we have the honor of welcoming back, a very special guest to the show. Emmy award-winning TV host, author, certified health coach and trainer, cancer survivor and thriver. Healthy living advocate and unstoppable optimist. Samantha Harris is here to help guide us through the best ways to achieve overall health and some tips to stay positive and hopeful during this pandemic. Samantha, welcome to the show.
I know Komen is such an important part of my life and I’m so happy to be back on the podcast.
So Samantha, you were the very first guest on the show. I’m so thrilled to have you back like just what’s been going on with you and give us a quick overview of who you are, what you’re about.
Well, first of all, I want to just say, Adam, congratulations on a full year of this podcast. You as a national ambassador for Susan G Komen, I and a survivor myself, I have found the podcasts so incredibly empowering, meaningful, supportive, and which is a true extension of what Susan G Komen does every single day on the front lines of research, education, access to care, and so much more. So thank you for that.
Well thank you. Your support really means the world. It’s really just a pleasure to talk to you. I appreciate you taking the time today. So let’s get into it. So after your breast cancer diagnosis, you really committed to empowering people to take control of their health and live their best and healthiest lives. Can you tell us a little bit more about that? We all know that we should eat well and move our bodies, but what else is important to achieving overall health?
Well, you know, just to kind of back things up for just a second, as a journalist by trade and having a breast cancer diagnosis with no hereditary link because only five to 10% of breast cancers are genetic. I needed answers and I went on that scorch in that quest and I researched everything that I could. I spoke to as many experts as I could and I determined it is truly what we put in on and around our body that overall impacts our wellbeing for better or for worse. And not just for leading to cancers but also to other chronic diseases like heart disease and type two diabetes and things that really could be avoidable. So we’re talking about, as you said, mentioned, you know, what could we all know to eat well and we know to exercise, but it’s really about what’s the quality of the food?
Where’s, what’s the source of the food? What food do we need more of than what do we need less of? So then beyond that, in terms of what we put on our body and around our body, we don’t necessarily think about all the personal care products that we’re slathering on every day or toxic relationships that we’re surrounded by and the need for building resiliency and a positive support squad. So all of these things, the in, on and around your body led me to write a book called your healthiest, healthy. And I know we talked about that last time I was on healthy really is eight easy steps to taking control, avoiding or preventing cancer and living a cleaner, happier, healthier life by ridding yourself as, or reducing the toxins that are surrounding us and in us. And that’s what it, that’s where I’ve been kind of growing from even more.
I really appreciate that. So, thanks for contributing to our culture in that way as well. It’s really fantastic. We’ll move into our next question. I’ve heard that you know, many people speculate that this period of isolation that we’re living through is going to cause a shift in how we’re living moving forward and that that seems pretty self-evident, you know. First, do you find that to be the case? Do you think that’s the case and is this perhaps the perfect time for listeners to actively focus on making some healthy changes that they might not have focused on before?
I think it’s a great time. Look, we’re all, or most of it, about 90% of the country or more are now under stay at home orders. We’ve been self-isolating for three, four weeks to now you start to lose track as you look at the same four walls. But you know really I think that there is a shift and the shift is really, I think for the better like a cancer diagnosis and learning to have a positive mindset. What you’ve learned in the past can be applicable to the future. So for me, full of anxiety and riddled with worries after rest, cancer diagnosis, I had to learn how to shift my perspective and find a positive mindset and learn the tools that you need, which I want to talk about here today with you. For everyone listening, find those tools to be able to develop a positive mindset because it is one of the keys to resiliency and some of the tools, Adam, that I learned and discovered for myself and had other people help me with back when I had a diagnosis back in 2014 are now, I’m finding in this midst of this COVID19 and self-isolation have been incredibly beneficial.
Right? All right, let’s talk about those. I want to hear, so where should we start?
All right. Well first of all, focus on small moments daily. For instance, and this is a totally touted tangental example, but if you need to pack up your home because you’re moving, you wouldn’t tackle the entire house at once, right? It would overwhelm anyone. So instead you would approach one room at a time, a portion of that room, small steps, one box at a time. So the same is true here where if we concentrate on those small moments daily, one moment at a time, we wake up and we tackle one task to kick off our date. It can be as simple as making your bed in the morning, keeping a normal schedule, washing the dishes. It’s a simple step of self-accomplishment that then leads to another small moment of accomplishment and positivity and another and another and every easy small step. We’ll get you through today. And then beyond without focusing on the overwhelming of, Oh my God, I can be in my house for months potentially.
It seems like this is an interesting moment where we can learn to live in the moment and enjoy that moment without necessarily, you know, constantly focusing on the future. Right. And in doing that, it’s going to help us to get through it all right?
Yes, yes. And some of the other key strategies that I use through my diagnosis that helped shift my, my mindset in my perspective from being overwhelmed to finding the silver lining in all it was to control what you can control. So remember there are only so many things that are within our power. It’s best really to focus our energy on the things that are truly within our control, namely our attitude and our effort. So with this very simple mind shift, and it really is just a mind shift, we can empower ourselves during a time that seems to be spiraling out of whack, take charge of our emotions to stay positive, focus on the supplies that we need to create a comfortable living environment while we’re in self-isolation and construct a game plan for how to keep busy while staying at home. And all of those types of efforts will help to generate calm and capability.
And then a few other tips I have for, for really just dealing with this anxious situation is to breathe, right, breathe slowly and breathe often. And what I mean by that is diaphragmatic breathing. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system to heal and calm us. And even just right now it’s just deep breath in filling that belly like a balloon, right? You fill out that belly like a balloon and then once that’s filled, you extend and expand the rib cage and then the heart and really filling everything. A deep, slow exhalation out. I don’t know about you.
Yeah, I feel better. I love that.
This type of deep abdominal breathing that helps us decrease inflammation in the body during times of stress and anxiety, slow filling breaths, act as a saving grace by allowing us to connect to what’s happening right here in the moment and relax our jitters. And I am a huge proponent of that. I love that. So we’ve all, we’re sitting here at home and we don’t have the person to person contact that we so need for survival and to be able to thrive. We can still engage to create community. That’s right. That’s right. During normal times without self-isolation, we’re often encouraged to, you know, kind of like put down these devices, right? And engage in more human to human contact. But when that’s not possible as it is right now, tuning actually into your technology can give great gains through group video chat, get-togethers, which can fill the void for those missed happy hours after work or hanging out FaceTime with far away a family can fill our weekend with special time swapping out Sunday brunch for Skype sessions can bring happiness and eliminate possible loneliness. We have a an 80th birthday coming up for my father in law. We were planning to do a big celebratory dinner, but I’ll tell you what we’re going to do instead you want here?
I’d love to. Yeah.
Okay. We are going to do two things. We’re going to do a FaceTime dinner. Then before that in the middle of the day, we’re surprising him with a w we’ve been doing actually with the kids’ schools, with friends workdays, which have been a birthday car train where people drive by, honking their horns, leaning out their sunroofs, their windows, holding up birthday signs, screaming, happy birthday just to bring some frivolity and fun.
I love that. That’s so much fun. I mean, and that’s the thing. We get to be creative and invent new things and connect in new ways during this time and there’s so there’s a lot of opportunities here, right?
There’s a lot of opportunity to be creative, to have some fun, to have the kids come up with things. And I think one of the other really great elements to help through this whole situation is to grasp gratefulness again about the little things, appreciating that you have a home to stay safe within or the ability to have the time to cook delicious meals and look at recipes that you hadn’t had a chance. And I’ve already cooked about three different soups that I’ve been wanting to make a couple of different entrees getting the kids in involves. Most of the time we are all running around like crazy, right? We’re running work and to events and to commitments in the store. There’s no time for all the non-work commitments that we would love to accomplish. That’s where the gratitude comes in. Now with more time at home, we can finally clean out the garage, take long bike rides with the kids, catch up on the phone with a childhood friend and really just grasp and hold on to that gratefulness.
Yeah, we’ve been playing card games with the kids. I’ve done a, I’ve done a set up like a weekly virtual lunch meeting with a peer group that I’m a part of. That’s been really great. So I’m, you know, I’m eating my sandwich and my fruit, you know, just chatting all what’s going on for the week and that’s been really, really neat over zoom and you know, trying to text my friends and stay in touch with them in ways that, you know, sometimes I just get so busy I don’t think to reach out and, and so I’m trying to reach out more and just stay connected and make sure everybody’s okay.
My daughter said, do you think that this is just the Earth’s way of saying we need to have time to sort of reset ourselves as, as a whole world? And you think about a look right now we have a lot fewer carbon emissions because fewer people are on the road, fewer planes in the air really may, it might be a stretch, but I think it’s important the more we train our brain to have positive thoughts and say it out loud, the more it becomes reality in ourselves, you know, on a cellular level. So I think there are a lot of reasons to be hopeful and to find the light in what seems to be tremendous darkness. Yeah, I think we are going to number one, grow as a community. I don’t know about you, but connecting with neighbors who I didn’t even know lived in my neighborhood right across the street.
Yeah. I’ve definitely connected with neighbors that I had not run into because we’re out trying to walk our dogs and just be out a little bit. And of course, we’re staying at a safe distance, but it’s been really amazing.
Exactly. And it’s there. There has been this tremendous growth as a community of support of people. Not only waiting hello from a distance but also grow as a community because we’re coming together to make sure we’re protecting our elderly. So there’s a positive that’s coming out of it. There’s also another positive coming out of Cova. That’s togetherness. I said to my daughter, when in our lifetime, well, we have this much time together, we’re all four of us are living under the same roof, spending time together. That’s not running from activity to activity.
That’s right. I think there is a lot of hope to be had for our culture, for the world as we move forward through this. And, and honestly just this conversation has been really uplifting. I really appreciate you taking the time. I’d love to even have you on the show again soon or maybe not even at a whole year. Maybe do it sooner.
I’m always up for that. And you know also for those who are listening, I was doing webinars prior to coven, but right now while we’re all home, it’s really a perfect time. Come together via video chat in a small group session and my year healthiest healthy webinars are three one hour sessions taking us through nutrition, how to eat, what to eat, how to figure out what have more of and less of. Then another session on the beauty of beauty reboot. Well how to know what products to enjoy, which ones to toss. What ingredients to look out for is same thing about cleaning your home and even your period routines. And then the last part of it is really an extension of what we’ve been talking about here today, but how to find positivity in our everyday life and develop a positive mindset, which is the key to resiliency and really throwing a wrench into the anxiety engine before it spirals out of control into a negativity spiral.
And part of that session is about toxic relationships. And I like to say the cancer card is a gift in many ways because it also gives us perspective on the relationships we have and those that are detracting from our lives. So your healthy selfie webinar really does help take people through these steps on Instagram and Facebook is at Samantha Harris TV and I know you’ll put the links up for that. And my website is samantha-harris.com where you can also find out about the book and the webinars retreat once we’re back to being able to be in person will be wonderful again.
That’s right. Well Samantha, you are an amazing and inspiring individual. I really appreciate what you contribute to the world and what you’ve contributed to our podcast, so thanks for joining us.
Thank you Adam. I love it. I look forward to coming back again.
Thanks for listening to real pink, a weekly podcast by Susan G Komen. For more episodes, visit realpink.komen.org for more on breast cancer, visit komen.org make sure to check out at @SusanGKomen on social media. I’m your host, Adam. You can find me on Twitter @AJWalker or my blog, AdamJwalker.com thanks to Genentech for supporting real pink. To find out more about Genentech’s latest advancements, visit gene.com
Thanks to Genentech for supporting Real Pink. To find out more about Genentech’s latest research advancements, visit gene.com. Intro and outro music is City Sunshine by Kevin MacLeod. Ad music is Blue Skies by Silent Partner.