Hope for living, loving and caring with no regrets!

Cooking up caregiver success

Episode 127

This week, Rayna Neises, your host, speaks with Talaya Dendy. Talaya has developed a fulfilling career path from cancer patient to founder and CEO of On the Other Side, LLC. She started the cancer navigation enterprise that provides personalized support using a patient-centered and holistic approach after all of her learnings from her cancer journey.  Talaya is also the host of The Navigating Cancer Together Podcast and an authority in the interview series, I Survived Cancer and Here is How I Did. She shares the following insights: 

  • (6:15) Helping to take care of your loved ones is truly helping them to heal.
  • (10:07) Threats of some type can help us to ask what is important and how to live to our calling and purpose.
  • (11:00) Having that person who has been through something similar is key. 
  • (12:25) A doula is someone who supports another person through a major life change and a significant health-related experience.
  • (16:05) Having the support of a doula can help the person worry less and that lightens the load. 
  • (18:29) A doula can help everyone from feeling isolated by getting everything out in the open and bringing everyone together. 
  • (19:58) Connect with Talaya at her website OnTheOtherSide.Life or email her at Talaya@ontheotherside.life.
  • (21:03) This episode is brought to you by The Gratitude Challenge.  Sign up now at aseasonofcaring.com/gratitude.

Transcript

*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation

Talaya Dendy: 

I don’t know how to feel. I’m just frustrated or whatever. And so having that person that had been through something similar is key. And that’s why I always tell people when you receive a diagnosis like cancer, make sure you reach out to someone who can walk with you and say, Hey, what you’re feeling is okay.

Rayna Neises: 

Welcome to A Season of Caring Podcast where there’s hope for living loving and caring with no regrets. This is Rayna Neises, your host. and today I have special guests Talaya Dendy. Talaya is a cancer doula, cancer thriver, cancer, health equity consultant, mental health first aider and podcaster, who has dedicated her career to guiding, supporting, empowering and advocating for people diagnosed with cancer. A supply chain analyst in her previous life ,she developed a fulfilling career path from cancer patient to founder and CEO of On the Other Side, LLC. A cancer navigation enterprise that provides personalized support using a patient-centered and holistic approach. Talya hosts The Navigating Cancer together podcast. And she has been a guest on numerous podcasts, Authority Magazine, and Thrive Global featured Talaya as an authority in the interview series, I Survived Cancer and Here is How I Did. Talaya is also a contributing author to number one, bestselling and groundbreaking book. I Survived Cancer and Here’s How I did It. Welcome. Talaya it’s so good to have you here Today.

Talaya Dendy: 

Thank you, Rayna. It is so nice to be here and talk with you.

Rayna Neises: 

Oh, wow. So tell us a little bit about your cancer journey, I guess is a good way to put it.

Talaya Dendy: 

Sure. So in 2011 out of the blue, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I had never had any health issues prior to my cancer diagnosis, other than the flu. So it was a big surprise to me. Actually I learned that I had cancer a year prior, but I wasn’t diagnosed. And I had went to my primary care doctor in 2010 and it was time for my annual exam. I had pointed out a lump on my neck and I said, you know, I’m concerned about this. What do you think is going on? She didn’t look at it. She didn’t touch it, anything she just said, oh, you know, you probably just pulled a muscle. And she felt confident saying that because I was working out quite a bit, but I’m like, okay, well, she didn’t look at it. She didn’t touch it, but maybe she knows what she’s talking about. So. To my fault, Rayna, I didn’t follow through on that until a year later, I was hoping that it would go away, but unfortunately it did not. And so with life and a lot of different other things that were going on at the time, I just didn’t go back to. Get a second opinion.

Rayna Neises: 

Mm.

Talaya Dendy: 

And so 2011, I had shared with my mom that, I’m concerned this lump is still on my neck. It’s time for me to get another exam. I believe I need to see a different doctor this time. And so my mom recommended a doctor and her reaction was a total 360. I could see the concern on her face. The the worry and even a little bit of fear, she touched it, she looked at it and she just kind of stood there and she’s like, I need for you to go in, to get an ultrasound as soon as possible. That’s the day my life changed.

Rayna Neises: 

Wow. So many good things there for us just as humans is to realize that when we have a concern, no matter the reaction of the person that we share it with, we’ve gotta follow our gut, I don’t know why we don’t follow our gut more. That something’s just not right. And it’s so that. Internal dialogue that you had. Oh, she wasn’t worried. I’ve said it I’ve said it once. That’s enough. Right. And then at the same time, that’s still uncertainty that kind of hangs in there that really, we need to learn to go with our gut and make sure that they’re listening to us and make sure that we really have our questions answered. So, wow. So that, that totally put you on a completely different journey. And I know with Lymphona. A lot of isolation, a lot of treatment and in a pretty intense period initially. So from that ultrasound, then what did that look like after it?

Talaya Dendy: 

Sure. So the ultrasound came back inconclusive. They knew something was wrong, they just were not sure what, so that led me to get a fine needle aspiration. That’s where they go into that specific tumor and they take out a piece of the tissue for a sample. Unfortunately, after having that procedure done, it came back inconclusive as well.

Rayna Neises: 

Oh, my gosh.

Talaya Dendy: 

They didn’t have a large enough sample size. And so that led me to a partial biopsy of that lymph node. So that partial biopsy of the lymph node led to my diagnosis in 2011. It was a little frustrating that I had to, even after waiting a year, I still had to go through all these different steps to really understand what was happening. And thankfully I was blessed with a wonderful oncologist once I got the final diagnosis and from there on things. Better. As far as working with the healthcare system, building my healthcare team and things like that. But from 2010 up to the actual diagnosis, it was really frustrating. And in some ways it was just kind of like, I didn’t wanna deal with it. I was afraid, but I knew something was wrong.

Rayna Neises: 

So obviously we’re talking to caregivers. So I would love to ask you who was your primary caregiver and what was that like for you in having them step into that role?

Talaya Dendy: 

Well, I’m excited to talk about this part, Rayna, because it displays so much love that caregivers give to the people that they care for. And so my mom was my caregiver and I tell people, I say, I know that my mom’s love helped me heal. And so that’s one important thing that, that I want the audience to know who are caregivers. Is that by helping to take care of your loved one, giving them that love that’s, that’s truly helping them to heal in some form or fashion. And so my mom is already my best friend and that just made us closer. Of course she was concerned, but she never shed a tear. She was never angry, showed frustration, any of those things, but it was really hard on me to watch her because she lost more weight than I did. So I knew she was worried

Rayna Neises: 

Mm-hmm

Talaya Dendy: 

and that made me feel bad because I’m like, I don’t wanna put my mom through this. So dealing with the guilt of that, someone I love seeing them affected in a negative way by something that I’m going through. And so that just made me love my mom even more if that’s possible. and it just. She would go with me to my chemotherapy sessions. So I would have them scheduled on a say Wednesday, for example, she was able to set up with her job to get off early on Wednesdays and come with me. And then she was able to have Thursday and Friday off as well to stay with me. just to make sure I didn’t have any adverse reactions to the treatment. And then, you know, she would go back home and get ready for another week at. So it was, it was a lot of changes for the both of us, but thankfully her employer allowed her to be flexible with her schedule. And like I said, it brought us closer together.

Rayna Neises: 

That’s awesome. And so caregiver says you’re listening. Just remember that even no matter if they can express it, or if they don’t have the personality to express it that love. And the sacrifice that you’re making is being seen by the person that you’re caring for. And it really does matter. So thanks for that encouragement. How did cancer change you and how did it open your eyes?

Talaya Dendy: 

Oh, Rayna. So many things I would have to say. The first thing is, is that it’s okay to put myself first. You know, prior to cancer, I was this people pleaser, you know, I wanted to make everybody happy. I wanted everybody to like me, but I truly believe that was making me sick.

Rayna Neises: 

Right.

Talaya Dendy: 

The other thing is that, you know, get out of your shell, by nature, I’m an introverted person, but after having cancer, I’m not afraid to go after the things that I want. I’m not afraid to get out there and talk to different people. Whereas before I, I wouldn’t be doing this, if it wasn’t for cancer. Of course, nobody wants cancer, but, it did bring me out of my shell. And the other thing is that we don’t have to go with what society says we’re supposed to be doing. By that I mean, you know, I was a person that went to college. I got my degree, I got this great corporate job and it wasn’t fulfilling for me.

Rayna Neises: 

Yeah, it’s

Talaya Dendy: 

And so having gone through cancer, having seen my life threatened in a sense, it made me say, Hey, what I really want to do with my life is important and it’s valid. And so that triggered me to start to make a transition out of corporate America and really, and truly find my purpose.

Rayna Neises: 

It. Something big, a threat of some type to move us to that place, to where we really focus in and say, what is important and how do I live to my calling and to my purpose. And, I’m glad that you found it. I’m glad that you’re doing what you’re doing. So I know that that transitions you into becoming a cancer doula. So tell us more about what that is.

Talaya Dendy: 

Yes. So first Rayna, I’ll start with the why, even though I had all these great things that I mentioned a great oncologist, the support of my family, things were going pretty good. However, there were still some things missing and that was connecting with someone who had been through something similar who could truly relate. Of course, my mom cared. My family cared about how I was feeling, but they didn’t understand. They didn’t understand that I could have treatment one day and feel completely fine after treatment. But boy, on that third day after I’m out of it, it just didn’t, they didn’t get it or they didn’t get that one minute. I could be happy. And the next minute I’m just like, well, you know, I don’t know how to feel. I’m just frustrated or whatever. And so having that person that had been through something similar is key. And that’s why I always tell people when you receive a diagnosis like cancer, make sure you reach out to someone who can walk with you and say, Hey, what you’re feeling is okay. And so, because of those gaps, And not only, you know, that emotional support, but also communication. Nobody knows how to talk about cancer. The other piece is understanding your treatment options, doing that research. for me, that came naturally because I’m an analytical person by nature. I like to read and all those different things, but that’s not for everybody. And for the people that don’t want to do that, that don’t understand it. They might be missing out on some key information that can help them make the best decision for them. And so that is something that I wanna assist people with as well. And so, a cancer doula in my mind is someone that supports another person through a major life change and a significant health related experience. That’s cancer. If that isn’t cancer, I don’t know what it is. And. You know, we have the death doulas, they focus on the end of life, the birth doulas focus on the beginning of life as a cancer doula, we’re focused on the present and helping you get through that cancer and get on the other side of it so that you can actually get on with your life and live the quality of life that you want.

Rayna Neises: 

That’s important work and something that I think so many people are probably completely unaware of, that that’s even available. And did you find it after your cancer journey or did you have a doula that worked with you?

Talaya Dendy: 

I found it after. And I kept thinking about what are things that I wish I would have had? What are things I wish I would have known? What are resources that I wish I would’ve had, that the clinic didn’t provide me with? you know? And. A little more personalization in care would’ve been wonderful. And I say that to me, no disrespect to the important work that people do at the cancer clinics and hospitals and things like that. But it’s not personalized. There’s the same resource list, that they give out to the same people. My needs might be different from the next person that you just met with. There are times when I wanted more personal time. Well, they only have a short window based on the number of people that they have to see that day. And so just having that flexibility, having more time, more personal one on one built in that makes a world of difference.

Rayna Neises: 

I can definitely imagine that and I know resource lists exactly what you said. It’s me telling you what I need. And then actually being able to say, oh, I know this person, or I know this is exactly what we’re looking for. You know, that excitement that can come and journeying together in that versus. Just picking up a piece of paper and randomly going, let me see if I can call the next five list names on this list and see which one I like the best. You know, there’s a lot of work involved in, in just being able to try whenever you’re in the midst of having to make so many decisions, it’s hard to have to make some of, even, even the simplest ones that. Something like a, a cancer doula can make such a difference in helping support in that. What does it look like when you’re working with clients?

Talaya Dendy: 

Yeah. So R ayna I’ve always worked with my clients virtually, always. I did have an option in there prior to COVID where if people lived within a 50 mile radius, And they wanted to meet in person. I would meet them at their doctor’s appointment serve as their advocate, things like that. But honestly, everyone that I’ve met with have been pretty much virtually. And so we meet via zoom. That’s my preference, because I want them to feel like they’re connecting with me. I wanna see their face. I wanna see their body language because that’s gonna tell me things that they’re not gonna say. But then also there’s an option for people that are not comfortable and we can talk on the phone, but most people do prefer zoom.

Rayna Neises: 

So, what does having your support do for the person and the family?

Talaya Dendy: 

So having my support helps the person worry less about what’s next. What’s going to happen. Where do I get this information? How do I talk to my job about my diagnosis? What do I need to be eating? So it, it lightens their load. Are there different things that may benefit my cancer? Are there integrative therapies that I should be considering? So that’s leg work in research that they don’t have to do. You know, they tell me, Hey, Talaya, this is what I’m struggling with Or I’m looking for this kind of support. And we work on that together and they’re not alone. They have someone to talk to who has been through. Now, when it comes to their family. A lot of times, as I mentioned earlier, my own experience, people really don’t feel comfortable talking to their family because they don’t get it or they don’t wanna overwhelm them and add more stress. And so they tend to hold those things in well and well with me, they can get it out, but then also their family doesn’t have to feel like there’s this barrier and wall between them. And even if they’re struggling with how to connect with their loved one who has cancer, I can help them through that as well, so that they don’t go further apart. They actually come together and know that, Hey, we have this neutral person who can support both of us. And I don’t need to share what I talk about with one person or the other. I just need to make sure that they’re being taken care of.

Rayna Neises: 

I was talking to a caregiver at a support group today. And she was just saying how nice it is to just be able to talk to other people. And I said, I think one of the things that happens is when we talk to family members or someone who’s not going through it is they wanna fix us. They wanna solve the problem. It can feel bad that they really can’t solve it, cuz I can’t even let you solve my problem cuz it’s not solvable. And at the same time, it also feels bad to have someone trying to fix you. And so I imagine having you journey with the person who’s in the midst of this life changing diagnosis can bring a lot of comfort in just having that person to talk to who’s not trying to fix them, but rather just sitting with them.

Talaya Dendy: 

That’s right. That’s that? And that’s so important because you’re already going through this thing that’s threatening your life. You’re wondering, you know, all these different things. Am I gonna make it? Is this treatment gonna work? Am I gonna lose my job? You name it. And so there’s already a lot there. And a lot of people just don’t know how to talk about it. They don’t know how to work through it. And so they shut down. Well, that’s not good because you’re carrying all these things around that’s actually working against your treatment because it’s lowering your immune system. We want you, we want your immune system working as good as it can. So let’s get rid of some of that baggage and weight, let me carry some of that so that you can truly focus on healing. And then the other part of that is there’s so many people that love their family members. They wanna help. They don’t know how. And then the person that needs to help doesn’t know what they need. They know they need help. They don’t know how to communicate that. And so there you having nothing’s being done. And so both sides are feeling isolated. No, let’s get this out in the open and bring the sides together.

Rayna Neises: 

That’s amazing. Well, I love what you do tole, and I’m so glad that I’ve been able to share that with our audience. And if you are a caregiver who is caring for someone who is on a journey with cancer, definitely I want them to be able to connect with you. So what’s the best way to do that. That’s

Talaya Dendy: 

Absolutely so they can visit my website. It’s OnTheOtherSide.Life or they can send me an email, at Talaya@ontheotherside.life. And then of course I’m on social media as well, but email or my website is the best option.

Rayna Neises: 

Great. And I know you offer a 30 minute conversation just to even see and explore if maybe it would be a good fit to work together. So I really encourage you. To make that connection. If that’s part of your journey, just to find no matter where you are in the journey, it’s not too late to have a cancer doula ,is it?

Talaya Dendy: 

It’s not too late. If you’ve just gotten diagnosis, if you started started treatment or you’re even into survivorship, it’s not too late because each phase has its own different things that you’re gonna have to work through. It doesn’t end when treatment stops. So keep that in mind.

Rayna Neises: 

Well, thank you so much for joining us today.

Talaya Dendy: 

Thank you so much, Rayna for having me and for sharing your platform. It’s been a pleasure.

Rayna Neises: 

Just a reminder, A Season of Caring Podcast has been created for the encouragement of family caregivers. If you have financial, legal or medical questions, be sure to consult your local professionals and take heart in your season of caring. This podcast episode has been brought to you by the Gratitude Challenge. Sign up today at www.aseasonofcaring.com/gratitude to be a part of the 21 day Gratitude Challenge to grow your gratitude muscle and receive all the positive impacts that gratitude can have on your life.

This Episode was Sponsored by:

Talaya Dendy

Talaya Dendy

Cancer Doula

Talaya Dendy is a Cancer Doula, Cancer Thriver, Cancer Health Equity Consultant, Mental Health First Aider, and Podcaster who has dedicated her career to guiding, supporting, empowering, and advocating for people diagnosed with cancer. A supply chain analyst in her previous life, she developed a fulfilling career path from cancer patient to Founder and CEO of On the Other Side LLC, a cancer navigation enterprise that provides personalized support using a patient-centered and holistic approach.

Talaya hosts the Navigating Cancer TOGETHER podcast, and she has been a guest on numerous podcasts. Authority Magazine and Thrive Global featured Talaya as an “authority” in the interview series, I Survived Cancer and Here Is How I Did It. Talaya is also a contributing author to a #1 best-selling and groundbreaking book, I Survived Cancer And Here Is How I Did It.

Resources

 

Your turn, share your thoughts . . .

2 Comments

  1. Talaya

    Rayna, Thank you for having me as a guest on your show! I enjoyed talking with you! I appreciate you helping to spread the word about the work that I do to support others with cancer. Your podcast is serving a great need by providing a lot of valuable information! You are a great host!

    Reply
    • Rayna Neises

      It was a joy. Thanks for sharing your story and wisdom!

      Reply

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Meet Your Host

Rayna Neises

Rayna Neises, ACC

Author of No Regrets: Hope for Your Caregiving Season, ICF Certified Coach, Speaker, Podcast Host, & Positive Approach to Care® Independent Trainer offering encouragement, support, and resources to those who are in a Season of Caring for Aging Parents.

Her passion is for those caring and their parents, that they might be seen, not forgotten & cared for, not neglected

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