Women tend to take care of everyone else before taking care of themselves. Women can do it all—own businesses while having kids, run marathons, make family decisions, and earn degrees. And because women are often busy taking care of everyone else, they tend to put their own health last. In this episode, Shaun Robinson, an Emmy award-winning journalist, author, philanthropist, and more, joins the podcast to discuss prioritizing health and helping yourself and others during treatment.
An Emmy Award-winning journalist, television personality, author, producer, philanthropist and girls’ empowerment activist, Shaun Robinson is a true role model. She has won the respect and admiration of millions of daily television viewers throughout her career, including her work as co-host of the entertainment news show, Access Hollywood. Coming from a strong background in television news, Shaun has contributed reports to NBC Nightly News, Today Show, MSNBC and CNN. Shaun has also served as host for programs on Lifetime, TLC and BET networks and she been featured as a panelist on Larry King Live, Piers Morgan Tonight and Dr. Drew.
Speaker 1: [00:00] Thank you to Sideways8 for sponsoring this podcast.
Adam: [00:09] 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.
[00:20] Women tend to take care of everyone else before taking care of themselves. Women can do it all, own businesses while having kids, run marathons, make family decisions, and earn degrees. And because women are often busy taking care of everyone else, they tend to put their own health last. To help women make their own health a priority, please help me welcome to the show Shaun Robinson. Shaun is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, television personality, author, producer, philanthropist, and girls’ empowerment activist. Shaun is a role model. She has won the respect and admiration of millions of daily television viewers throughout her career, including her work as co-host of the entertainment news show, Access Hollywood. Coming from a strong background in television news, Shaun has contributed to reports on NBC Nightly News, Today Show, MSNBC, and CNN. Shaun has also served as the host for programs on Lifetime, TLC, and BET networks, and she has been featured as a panelist on Larry King Live, Piers Morgan Tonight, and Dr. Drew. Shaun, welcome to the show.
Shaun: [01:20] Thank you so much, Adam. Good to be with you.
Adam: [01:23] I love your bio, especially the philanthropist and girls’ empowerment activist. I love that phrasing. That’s really… I’ve got two girls. I’m a big fan. I love the work you’re doing.
Shaun: [01:34] Thank you so much. How old are your girls?
Adam: [01:36] They’re thirteen and nine.
Shaun: [01:40] Wow. Right at that age.
Adam: [01:43] Yeah, we’re trying to empower them. It’s great. They’re really, really great. Super smart, amazing kids.
Shaun: [01:49] That’s great.
Adam: [01:50] Well, let’s dig in. It’s an honor to have you on the show and I just want to chat for a minute. First, can you tell us why encouraging women to make their health a priority is so important to you?
Shaun: [02:01] Well, as you said in the intro, Adam, we as women are caretakers, we are nurturers and we tend to put everybody else before ourselves. That is detrimental to our own health because we have to be strong. We have to be in good physical form, emotional form to take care of others. The concept of putting ourselves first, it’s just so foreign to us. If you tell a woman, “You come first,” she almost physically recoils at that thought. But the fact of the matter is, you have to put yourself first, because we are the caretakers, we are the nurturers of those in our family. So in order to be, in the place, in the emotional and physical place that we need to be to take care of others, we have to take care of ourselves first.
Adam: [02:52] It reminds me of like when you’re flying on an airplane and they say, “Hey, if the oxygen masks comes down, take care of yourself first and then take care the person sitting next to you because if you can’t breathe, you can’t help the person next to you.”
Shaun: [03:03] Absolutely. That is so very true.
Adam: [03:06] Right. I love that you’re advocating for this. I see it and in all the women in my life, I see them taking care of other people to the detriment of themselves. If they’re healthy, everybody around them is going to be better.
Shaun: [03:16] Right. You know, I remember like when I was little, my grandmother, my father’s mother, she had two heart attacks and in between those heart attacks… Like I didn’t even know because she was still trying to help the family. She was still trying to take care of the family and women will do that. My mother is a very good example of that. She tried to take everybody… Take their health and their well-being into account first. I always have to remind her, “Mom, have you gone to the doctor or have you had your checkup? Have you checked that cough? What have you done? Have you exercised today?” So I have to be the one reminding her to do that because she’s in the frame of mind that her job is to take care of everyone else. And I said, “No ma, your job is to take care of yourself.” Especially at eighty, everybody else could deal with themselves.
Adam: [04:11] They should all be self-sufficient at this point. You take care of yourself.
Shaun: [04:15] Right, exactly.
Adam: [04:15] That’s great. Well, so my next question, a recent survey by Healthy Her revealed that while 83% women are happy to be managing their family’s health, a staggering 66% said they felt only somewhat in control of their own health.
Shaun: [04:29] Interesting. 66%?
Adam: [04:31] Yeah. Well, what can you share about women to help them feel more empowered about their own health?
Shaun: [04:36] Well, I’ve had women in my family who have succumbed to a different diseases including breast cancer and my favorite cousin Susan, she had breast cancer and she eventually died. This was a woman who never went to the doctor. She had a brother who was a physician and still she never went to the doctor. Even though this was so long ago, before there was the information available that there is today, there are still so many women stuck in that space. They’re afraid to go to the doctor, they don’t have time to go to the doctor. But here it is. If you have time to take care of everybody else, you have time to take care of yourself.
[05:26] Self-care— And I use my social media a lot to talk about self-care and self-care means scheduling those doctor’s appointments. I know healthcare is a big issue today and many women may feel that they can’t afford to put their health first by going to the doctor, but here, preventative care is much cheaper than treatment, okay? That means going for your regular mammograms, that means going to your doctor and talking about your body. What changes that you have noticed in your body? Learning how to do self breast exams.
[06:09] So very important. I mean, this is something that— And when we talk about breast cancer, we’re talking about a disease that— So many advances have been made in recent years and there is no reason to lose another woman from breast cancer. So I like to tell women—and that’s just one of the things—that you have to be open and honest about what’s happening in your body and share that information with your doctor.
[06:36] But let’s take it back a step, Adam. A lot of women don’t even have a personal physician. Let’s even talk about that, even before you’re talking about a team of doctors and whatnot. But you’re talking about the fact that a lot of women haven’t gone to even see a doctor. And this is very, very, very important. I mean, you want your children to see a doctor and you should be telling yourself, “I need to go see somebody who I am comfortable with.” That’s the thing. Let me just— My mother had gone to a doctor many years ago and she was missing appointments and I finally asked her why hasn’t she been going to the doctor? She said that she didn’t really feel comfortable with the doctor; it was somebody that she had just had for many years and she didn’t— I said, “Then change.” You have a right, do the change. You don’t have to see one person, you can see— Talk to whatever healthcare provider that you have or whatever system, insurance that you have, hopefully you do have that insurance and say, “I want to change.” You have to be comfortable with the person that you are trusting your care with.
Adam: [07:44] That’s right. Yeah and what’s interesting to me about well appointments is that we tend to have this mental block, “Oh, I don’t have time for that.” Well, you don’t have time for one appointment every year? Like it’s two hours every year. I mean, of course we have time for two hours every year. We’ve got time to do all kinds of things. Of course, we can find two hours and if you don’t have a doctor there’s also that other element of, “Oh, I’ve got to go through the steps of finding a doctor,” but the reality of that is it probably only takes two hours as well. So, to your point, I think four hours of investment for a wellness appointment at least once a year is probably worth it.
Shaun: [08:20] Yeah. A wellness appointment is definitely worth it. Sometimes you just have to make time. If you could make time to care for everybody else, you can make time to care for yourself. There are certain steps just, sitting down, maybe even asking a friend that you trust, “Who is your doctor? Are you comfortable with him or her?” And asking other people in your family or maybe asking other people at work who they’re comfortable with, who their doctor is and maybe you can even get a referral because— And that might make you feel a little bit more comfortable. But a wellness appointment, as you were saying Adam, once a year is crucial to your health. It’s crucial to your health.
[09:03] We just have to start encouraging— When you talk about a sisterhood of women, you have to start— As women, we have to start encouraging our girlfriends. We have to start encouraging not only our mothers, our grandmothers, our daughters, but also a lot of girlfriends. Asking your girlfriend, have you had that wellness appointment? Have you taken a moment to take care of yourself? That is extremely important with the village of women that we have around us. There are enough of us to support each other and encourage those wellness appointment.
Adam: [09:35] I love that phrase that you just used twice, the village of women around us. You’re right, there is a camaraderie I think, amongst you, and it’s really a beautiful thing that you can encourage and support one another.
Shaun: [09:48] Sure. Absolutely. That’s what it’s all about, encouraging each other to do those things that we put off. My best friend from high school, she lives in DC, I live here in Los Angeles, and we check on each other, “How are you doing? How’s your health?” We encourage each other to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves.
Adam: [10:09] Well, it’s interesting that you do that. It never occurs to me to ask people how their health is, but why not? We ask how their day is going. We ask how their kids are doing. Why not ask, how’s your health? Are you healthy? And if not, why not? Let’s talk about that.
Shaun: [10:23] Exactly. We have to be comfortable enough talking about it. I think that many women are ashamed to talk about their health. Ashamed to talk about what’s going on. If you don’t feel comfortable divulging it to your girlfriend, that’s fine, but you have to have that relationship with your doctor and let your doctor know what is going on. There are many very caring, very wonderful doctors out here and that care about a woman’s health and they care about their patients. You can find that takes a little bit of digging, but you definitely can find somebody that you’re comfortable talking with.
Adam: [11:01] That’s right. So just speaking about helpless, let’s zoom out just for a moment. I know that you’re obviously a healthy individual, you’re a health advocate and I’m assuming that a part of that is prioritizing sleep, exercise, eating well, downtime, making time, and then of course making time for doctor’s appointments and yearly screenings, right? Can you give some advice about how women can go about doing that and make those health priorities? How do they get enough sleep? How do they get enough exercise?
Shaun: [11:29] Yes, sleep is always— That thing that women feel like they don’t get enough of. I usually get about eight hours of sleep a night. Seven to eight, yeah.
Adam: [11:38] That’s fantastic.
Shaun: [11:39] (inaudible 11:39) Yeah. There are times when I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and I’ll be tossing and turning. Something’s on my mind that is stressing me out. Then in the morning, I wake up and I’m just not myself. So I try to prioritize sleep. They say don’t have a television in the bedroom. I have a television, but I’ll read before I go to sleep. I’ll meditate before I go to sleep. That just kind of calms me and relaxes me. So I always try to do that.
[12:14] Then in the morning, I also say meditation, I write in my gratitude journal things that I’m grateful for. That just calms me and puts me in a space to tackle the day, because I tell you, Adam, I just finished lent, the lent season, and so I gave up a lot of things and one of the things I gave up was like grabbing my phone in the morning to check text messages and emails and check social media. I did that because as soon as I start grabbing the phone, that’s when I get stressed out. When I wake up in the morning, I read my gratitude journal, write things I’m grateful for. That starts me on a day where I feel I’m just more revitalized and thankful and ready to tackle the day.
Adam: [13:03] And you’re more in control, right? When you start your day on your terms, you’re more in control versus if you start on someone else’s terms, which is reading text messages and emails and everything like that. Right?
Shaun: [13:12] Yes, yes. Responding. I spent sixteen years at my job at Access Hollywood, which was a wonderful, wonderful experience but there are things that were like every job stressed me out and once I released that, and was able to focus on the things that I really wanted to do, it just made me so much more calm and much more happy person. Listen, not everybody is in that position and I understand that, but you have to find some moment of your day that you are in control of, and when you wake up, that’s a moment that you can say, “Okay, this is what I’m going to do in this moment to give me more control.”
Adam: [13:56] That’s right. That’s right. So Shawn, just bringing back a few themes from our conversations so far. There are women listening to this podcast that are taking care of others at the detriment to their own health. They’re women that are busy. They’re not sleeping enough. They’re not eating well. You know, what would be your immediate and direct advice to those women right now?
Shaun: [14:20] You yourself deserve as much care as you give others. That would be my advice to the women out there who feel like they don’t have the time to take care of themselves. Taking care of yourself means being able to go to a quiet place. Maybe find a place in your apartment or your house where you can just sit and meditate. It means making healthy choices with your diet. I noticed that, like I said, I live in Los Angeles, my mother lives in Detroit, Michigan, and when I travel to Detroit to visit her, I notice such a difference in the type of restaurants that are around her communities as opposed to the restaurants that are here in where I live in Los Angeles. Here I have a lot of choices for salads and healthy foods and things that are not detrimental to your health. When I go to my mother’s, in the area of Detroit where she lives, I see a lot of restaurants offering fried this and fried that, and there aren’t those healthy choices. So when I go home, I said, “Mom, we’re going to either go to the grocery store and get some more vegetables and salads and things like that.”
[15:52] I have to help her make a healthier choice when I am there. Sometimes it takes going out of that community, sometimes it takes finding those places that are not offering things that are detrimental to your health because the stuff that we put in our bodies— Think about, somebody told me this and it helped me visualize what’s going on in your body. If you were the head of an army, what weapons would you give your army to fight? Okay, so your body is full of this army. What weapons are you giving the army in your body to fight disease? Are you feeding that army candy and fried foods and junk all that? What do you expect them to do with those weapons that you’re giving them? They can’t fight disease. But if you look at the army in your body as something that you need to nurture and care for, what are you giving it that’s helping it fight disease?
Adam: [16:54] I love that analogy. That’s amazing. That’s really, really— I’ve always thought about it in terms of how are you fueling your body? Are you putting in good quality fuel? Are you putting in sugary, low-quality fuel? And it affects everything else. Affects the performance of the, quote, engine as a body. I like the army analogy a little better even. That’s great.
[17:15] Wow. So you said something that I wrote down. I want to make sure I didn’t miss it. You said your advice to women that are listening right now is you deserve the care you give to others.
Shaun: [17:24] Yes.
Adam: [17:25] That is a profound statement.
Shaun: [17:27] Yes. You deserve the care you give to others and once again, it’s about women being fully open to the idea that they come first.
Adam: [17:41] Shaun, this has been so great. It’s really been an honor to have you on the show. Your advice is just fantastic. I really appreciate it. If our listeners want to find and connect with you, are you on social media? What’s a good place for them to go to? I know you’ve got a website, you want to send them to your website?
Shaun: [17:57] Yeah. Listen, social media, I’m telling you— Yes, I’m definitely on social media. You can find me on Instagram at ms M S Shaun Robinson, S H A U N Robinson Facebook, I’m @ShaunRobinson and Twitter, Shaun Robinson, all of that. Yes. Easy to find me.
Adam: [18:18] I love that. I love that. For our listeners, if you want to get more involved in the fight against breast cancer, please make sure to check out the Susan G Komen website at susangkomen.com and join the fight there.
Adam: [18:33] 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 @SusanGKomen on social media. I’m your host, Adam. You can find me on Twitter at @AJWalker or my blog, adamjwalker.com
Speaker 1: [18:56] Thank you to Sideways8 for sponsoring this podcast. We all want to break through the noise on the Internet and stand out. Sideways8 is a digital agency on a mission to improve communication through marketing, whether they’re working with tech companies or national nonprofits, Sideways8 helps you showcase your value while making it easy for people to find you. Sideways8 services include website design and development, website care plans, digital marketing strategy, branding and messaging, SEO, pay per click advertising, and more. To learn more about highlighting the work your organization is doing, head to sideways8.com/komen—that’s S-I-D-E-W-A-Y-S, the number eight, dot com slash Komen.
This podcast is sponsored by Sideways8, an agency on a mission to improve communication through digital marketing.