I was lucky enough to be apart of this project with Katie Couric. She interviewed me and two other amazing women to talk about the toll of a diagnosis. How a cancer diagnosis can be hard on the patient, caretakers, and family members.
The conversations we had were so powerful, validating, and eye opening to the effects a cancer diagnosis can take on everyone involved. Alua Arthur is a death doula which I had never heard of before and I loved everything she said. I wish I had someone like her when I was going through some of those last hard months with Justin.
Kate Bowler is a cancer survivor and shared her experience of going through cancer. Then Katie and I are widows sharing our experience from a partner to a cancer patients point of view. Having these three perspectives made for some powerful conversations around the toll of a diagnosis. You can watch the interview below! Continue reading to see how this all came about and more about meeting Katie for the first time.
Backstory how this all came together
It all started when I opened my DM’s on Instagram with a message from Katie Couric. I did a double take and thought this couldn’t really be her. I went to her account and saw the blue check mark next to her name and thought, ok wow this is really her account.
Katie kept messaging me and I didn’t think it was really her. I would respond, but was still unsure if this was legit or not. It seemed too good to be true. I know that some celebrities have a team of people who control their instagram accounts so I wasn’t sure.
I got a message from her in January about a project she was working on and she wanted to send me some information on it. I still wasn’t sure if it was legit, but I sent her my brand managers email. I honestly never thought anything would come of it.
A week later my brand manager calls me and she says “are you sitting down?” and I was like yeah why. She responded and said “Katie Couric’s team wants to do an in person interview with you.” I started jumping up and down and screaming. What?! I was sure glad I responded to those DM’s. lol
Our secret project in LA
I flew to LA for the project and I decided to have my friend Brittany come with me for emotional support. She has a ton of background in broadcast journalism and politics. She has done a ton of TV interviews before as well and I knew she would be able to help give me some tips. Brittany and I grew up together and she also knew Justin really well. It was nice to have her there for support.
The location for this project was at this beautiful home in LA. I started to get nervous when I saw all the production lights and the crew setting it all up. It all started to feel super real when I walked into the room where we would be filming.
Meeting Katie Couric
When I found out that I was going to be doing this interview with Katie Couric I started reading her book “Going There” the next day. I wanted to read it all before I met her for this interview. I didn’t know much of her story with her husbands cancer and I found it very comforting to read about. I felt like she was describing how I had felt during my journey with Justins cancer. It really does help to know that someone knows what you are going through. I was excited to meet her and talk about it.
I thought that I would have a couple minutes to say hi and then we would have to start filming, but we ended up chatting with her the whole time. I had a conversation with her while she was getting her hair done and even after filming she stayed awhile and chatted with all of us. She was seriously so nice and knew so much about me and my story.
I was a little nervous for the interview and she was so supportive and kind. It’s so easy to talk to her and she is so great at what she does. I felt like we were all just having dinner with friends chatting. When I was hugging Katie goodbye she reminded me that when she sends me a DM on Instagram its really her and I should reply. lol
The topic of cancer, death, and a diagnosis are all very heavy topics, but I believe they need to be talked about. I thought it was very special to have all the different perspectives of a cancer diagnosis. The cancer patient, the family members to a cancer patient, and a death doula. All coming together to bring awareness of how a diagnosis can effect everyone involved.
I feel so grateful to be apart of this! These types of conversations can be hard, but I hope the more we talk about it the more it can help others. I felt lucky to be around such amazing women! I learned so much from each one and will carry that with me for the rest of my life. It was a day I will never forget and truly cherish forever.
Mickie Ortiz says
Jenn, you responded with poise and you were very articulate in your interview with Katie Couric. It made me cry to sense how hopeful you were through the whole journey, and then Justin died. It’s so hard to know what to do in those circumstances, but I hope by now that you have been able to let go of what you could have done differently. I would gladly contribute memories of Justin to pass on to your boys and I’m sure there are many others who would do the same. It’s not the same as it would have been with him sharing his feelings, but it might be valuable to those little guys down the road. ❤️🥲🥲
What a wonderful experience! Thank you for sharing. I’d be freaking out too if Katie DM’d me.
I’m so happy you had this opportunity! Your story is powerful and it will move mountains! Justin would be so proud of you!
Wow, I have so much admiration for you. Listening to your story brought back the pain of my mom and dad when they had cancer- you described it so well- you never think it’s the end even just before it is and you cling to hope💔 I feel guilt too. Justin would continue to be so proud of you as a single mom with his boys and everything you are achieving. So much you can be proud of🤗
Megan Schenk says
As I was pushing play to listen to this video I was sobbing, I knew I was going to relate to Kate, the patient, but also learn more from you and Katie as the caregiver. And the death doula, wow!! It’s such a hard thing to be the patient, but also so hard to be the one “causing the suffering.” You were incredible explaining where you were coming from and I know Justin is So grateful you have been such an inspiration and helper to So many going through similar situations!! ❤️ Great interview, great video!! Thank you to all of you!!
I am the social media manager for Huntsman Cancer Institute- Katie’s interview appeared in my personal feed and when I realized I “knew” you I immediately logged into the HCI account to see your posts about this. What an incredible opportunity and important conversation.
Rose Copeling says
Jenn, you handled that interview so well. So proud of you as I’m sure it wasn’t easy opening up about all your feelings, about what you could, should have done and said. I’m sure I too, would have clung to every grain of hope. One of my brothers iOS in the fight for his life with Multiple Melanoma. He is so positive but I know how hard he is trying to keep his spirits up. Unfortunately, he lives in New Zealand and I’m in Toronto so I’m finding it difficult to know what to say to him. One thing that I picked up from the interview, is that it’s OK not to be Ok. Next time I chat to him, I will say that to him.
You did a great job, you are an amazing Mom and I’m sure you know how proud Justin would have been of you. Good luck with the move and the next phase of your life in your new home ❤️❤️❤️