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The Chaos of Cancer
Episode 517th October 2021 • Calming the Chaos • Tracy Kenela
00:00:00 00:50:12

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The Chaos of Cancer – Podcast Interview with Katherine Marie

Calming the Chaos welcomes Katherine Marie, Speaker and Cancer Coach. Katherine tells her story about the chaos of having breast cancer. As October is breast cancer awareness month, Katherine shares her story about being a breast cancer survivor and Cancer Coach who speaks out about a variety of aspects of having cancer: from pre-diagnosis, treatment and beyond.

If you’ve ever received a cancer diagnosis, you can benefit from hearing Katherine’s story!

Introduction to Katherine:  Who are you now?

  • Mom to boy/girl twins who were born prematurely, and both have special needs.
  • Cancer coach, working individually with people to provide emotional comfort or resources as they navigate cancer.  
  • A speaker with topics such as moving from fear to action and creating an environment that is supportive of employees through wellness programs and a sense of community.
  • Katherine is also in the beginning stages of writing a book.

An overview of Chaos: “A state of disorganization, confusion, resulting from anything in our environment that throws us off balance, overwhelms or confuses us.

Katherine's Story of Cancer Chaos                                                           


- Chaos begins before a diagnosis when “an area of concern” was identified by the Radiologist, and Katherine was told she needed to go in for more testing

Skills used to calm her chaos:

1.      Going into “Function Mode”

2.      Asking her friend (who had cancer) for resources

3.      Beginning to think about humor

4.      Changing her mindset about double mastectomy from a tragic loss to a “clean slate,” where she can reconstruct whatever she wanted.


Cancer Diagnosis  - Receiving the cancer diagnosis over the phone, from a stranger.

Skills used to calm her chaos:

1.      Gathering information

2.      Setting up and attending appointments

3.      Laser focused on taking care of her family and getting well


Cancer Treatment – Surgery, followed by 5 months of chemo, 6 weeks radiation.

Lessons Learned:

1.      Humor is important

2.      Ask for and accept help from others

3.      Learn to lower your expectations of what will get done

4.      Care Calendar:

Cancer Post-Treatment - Delayed reconstruction. 2016 I was moving forward physically, but not emotionally, until I read something by another cancer patient that made her realize she had to live NOW. At the same time, she was friends with someone dying from the same disease, living a healthy life.

Lessons Learned:

1.      Honor the mourning process

2.      Offer to help cancer patients

3.      Validate emotions (this works for caregivers & family members)

4.      Listen to the cancer patient’s unique language for describing their experience (Example: using battle language like “warrior,” and / or “survivor.” Or “remission” or “no evidence of disease.”)

5.      Having open, honest conversations with people about how you feel, what you want and need.

How it affected your major life domains: (When cancer treatment ends, the side effects don’t necessarily end)

Physical - Fatigue, need more sleep now. Chemo brain, neuropathy, and lymphedema. All of these still need to be managed.                                                      

Emotional - Rollercoaster of emotions throughout. Now, there can be triggers, like BC Awareness Month. For Katherine, October means: encouraging screenings, communicating the on-going challenges of patients, and honoring those who have passed.                                                            

Vocational - Katherine was fortunate to work as a substitute (lunch lady), so my work was flexible. Post treatment, she was unable to do that work anymore due to ongoing physical limitations. (One reason she went back to school and started her business.)

Family / Social - Many cancer patients see a shift in relationships during or post diagnosis. Some people disappear from the patient's life during treatment. Katherine has noticed she has less patience for surface relationships and she seeks more meaningful connections now.

Tools / Techniques you can share to help others who have received a cancer diagnosis

  1. The ABLE Strategy - Acknowledge, Breath (4-7-8 technique, which she demonstrates in a video, “My favorite breathing technique” on her YouTube channel, Inspired Vitality) at
  2. You can have cancer AND laughter. It’s not only ok, it’s good for you.
  3. It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help, rather, asking for help is a sign of emotional strength and maturity.

Katherine’s website:

Check out Katherine’s free download on her called “Chemo Go-bag Checklist.” This is intended for anyone who has recently been diagnosed with cancer and their treatment plan includes chemotherapy. It will help you prepare for your time at the cancer center.

Katherine also provides a complimentary consultation for people interested in exploring the option of individual coaching.

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