Through Thick and Thin: Employers Supporting Employees Through Health Crises with Cancer Channel Author Sarah McDonald

Jennifer Brown | | , ,

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This episode features an interview with author Sarah McDonald as she discusses her book The Cancer Channel and her journey as a cancer survivor. Sarah shares the unique challenges that employees with chronic health issues face in the workplace and how employers can best support their workers through health crises. Discover the stigma and shame that individuals often feel when diagnosed with cancer or other health issues, and the difficult challenges of potentially needing to work even while going through debilitating treatments. Sarah also reveals the lessons that she’s learned and what has changed in her life since being diagnosed with cancer.

Listen in now, or read on for the transcript of our conversation:

SARAH MCDONALD: I am shocked and dismayed and horrified when I hear of cancer patients who are going through what can be debilitating treatments and they need to keep working or they'll lose their insurance and it will mean financial ruin for their family. Because I will tell you, even though I- I knew in my heart of hearts that I would figure everything out with the insurance company, I had to bring ninja level project management skills in order to argue with the insurance company-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... to cover everything. And it's just because it's so confusing because like the doctor's number identification isn't of the procedure that was done doesn't line up with the insurance company's. There were times when I would receive insurance bills that were in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.


RAY ARATA: Hi, I'm Ray Arata, founder of the Better Man Conference, and I've made it my life's work to engage and educate men as allies and heartfelt inclusive leaders. I'm really excited to be partnering with my friend and colleague Jennifer Brown and Jennifer Brown Consulting for this year's conference. Now I wanna offer a trigger warning for my next three words: patriarchy, power, and privilege. Now these terms don't exactly have a great reputation, but what if we could somehow turn them into forces for good. Join us November 2nd at the Better Man Conference and use promo code bettertogether20 for a 20% off discount off your registration. The details are in the show notes, we'll see you soon.

DOUG FORESTA: The Will to Change is hosted by Jennifer Brown. Jennifer is an award winning entrepreneur, dynamic speaker, best selling author and leadership expert on how organizations must evolve their cultures towards a new more inclusive workplace reality. She's a passionate inclusion and equity advocate, committed to helping leaders foster healthier and therefore more productive work places, ultimately driving innovation and business results. Informed by nearly two decades of consulting to Fortune 500 companies, she and her team advise top companies on building cultures of belonging in times of great upheaval and uncertainty. And now onto the episode.

Hello and welcome back to the Will to Change. This is Doug Foresta. This episode features an interview with Sarah McDonald. She is a two time cancer survivor and author of the book The Cancer Channel. Uh, she spent the majority of her 30 year career in the technology industry, 14 years of which were eBay. And in this conversation, Sarah talks about her own journey as a cancer survivor and also discusses the ways in which employers can support employees who are maybe going through cancer or other chronic health issues. All this and more, and now onto the conversation.


JENIFER BROWN: Sarah, welcome to the Will to Change.

SARAH MCDONALD: Oh, thanks so much for having me, Jennifer. Really appreciate it.

JENNIFER BROWN: (laughs). I have known you and your wonderful husband Jeff for a very long time, oh my goodness, especially Jeff and I.


JENNIFER BROWN: We go back to high school, yes folks. Um, boarding school to be specific. (laughs). Um, in a very confusing time of life I think for both of us.

SARAH MCDONALD: Mm-hmm. That's right.

JENNIFER BROWN: That, you know, you're 16 years old and, you know, switching schools and not knowing anyone and, um, it's not a story I talk about a lot. But traumatic in its own way, you know, even for somebody who's, um, pretty resilient in situations like that. But, um, you are married to a special human. And then I've gotten to know you through the process of knowing him and I'm so delighted. I mean I- you're just a meteor in terms of the, you know, not only just your energy but- but your- your career has been amazing to witness. Um, total high flyer, total like successful like, you know, woman leader in, you know, in the corporate space, in the- in the sort of West Coast ecosystem in the startup world. And someone who has dealt with cancer diagnoses, plural.



SARAH MCDONALD: You know, Jennifer, if this whole podcast thing, writer, author, speaker thing doesn't work out, you can do PR for me any day of the week. [inaudible 00:04:22]-

JENNIFER BROWN: (laughs). Big booster.


JENNIFER BROWN: Huge booster. So, um, I'll just say as your friend from a long way, many miles away, you know, watching you go through this and communicating so openly in the way that you did, like typically bringing all of your organizational knowhow to, you know, making sure we in your extended ecosystem kept informed about everything that you were learning. You know, you had your famous KPIs, so your key performance indicators.


JENNIFER BROWN: About your cancer. (laughs). And you kept us all informed.


JENNIFER BROWN: It was so funny. Anyway, I just- I loved the way you navigated it and, you know, it's- it's wild that you were taking care of yourself and trying to learn what that meant, but also taking care of the rest of us, you know, in terms of those who love you. And that's like- that's sort of so above and beyond, and, you know, now you've written this book. Uh, and I can't wait to talk to you about it and I really am excited to explore stigma around diagnoses, um, what impact it has on our- what we thought we would do for careers, and- and what we're able to manage as we are going through these challenges in life and- and how employers and colleagues, you know, knew or didn't know how to support you. And, um, you know, I- I think it's- when I- when I began to really keynote heavily during the pandemic, chronic illness and caregiving and mental health issues all sort of came up over and over and over again. To the point where I began to add them in as diversity dimensions.


JENNIFER BROWN: And bring them up.


JENNIFER BROWN: Because it felt in my chat so many people were pouring their heart out, about what was going on for them. And I felt it needed to be represented. And, um, hence wanting you and- for so many reasons, but for that reason too, to have you on the Will to Change. Because I am, these things touch our lives and when we say, "Bring your full self to work," what does that even mean?


JENNIFER BROWN: When you're going through what you went through. (laughs). Um, and- and then I'm curious as if I were your colleague technically, right, in your workplace, and I were your manager, and I were your employer, you know, what do you wish had happened? You know, how can we be better through what you learned and what you've written in this book? Um, and I- I just think you're one of the first people I think that has written in this way about this topic. And, um, it would behoove all employers I think and all managers to read it as required reading to help kinda think through this will happen. This will happen either to me, this will happen to someone on my team, I will need to be the leader, the colleague, and I wanted to be prepared to know how to support.

Because that's the way we speak about, um, what I might say is acquired diversity dimensions, perhaps versus inherent, sort of in born. Acquired is what happens to us over the course of our lives, whether that's parenting, for- in your case, you know, fertility challenges, um, whether that is grief, loss, being widowed, um, you know, there- a variety of things that- that happen to us and that become larger than life and sort of eclipse, you know, all of our plans. (laughs). Although you would-

SARAH MCDONALD: This is gonna- this is gonna be a juicy interview. (laughs).

JENNIFER BROWN: (laughs). Well you know it.


JENNIFER BROWN: So okay, so- so- so start-

SARAH MCDONALD: Where should I start? (laughs).

JENNIFER BROWN: Oh yeah, where should you start. Start with the basics, give us a bit of the chronology, um, of your diagnoses, the timing of it, and- and maybe paint a picture of where you were, like job wise, career wise at the time.


JENNIFER BROWN: And, um, and- and give us a- as- as you do, some funny anecdotes about you, you and the person you were at the time that you received all this, (laughs), this information. And, uh, and what did you do?

SARAH MCDONALD: Awesome. And I hope we're gonna get to everything-


SARAH MCDONALD: Because it's terrific context. Um, so yeah. So, uh in 2011, I had been, um, working at eBay for seven years. And I was invited to interview for the chief of staff role, chief of staff to the president of eBay, guy named Devin Wenig who had just been, um, hired as president. And, um, gosh, I was busy in like this amazing role and, you know, going to interview with him, I- you know, I was like oh man, I- I don't even know what a chief of staff is, and who's this guy? And the minute I met Devin, I was like oh man are we gonna work well together and I- I just have to take this role. And it was- it was a big promotion, it was a big promotion. It was a big deal to become chief of staff.

Um, I had been managing this huge team, um, at eBay and I- I- I went into an individual contributor role. And with that, and, you know, being that Devin was early in his career at eBay, um, I had some time on my hands and I finally went and took care of some doctor's appointments that I hadn't done in awhile. And I'm gonna now speed up a little. (laughs). But, um, I had found a lump in the floor of my mouth. And spoke with my dentist about it and she's like, "Okay, there's a range of options. It's either an infection that we can give you antibiotics for, or on the other side of the spectrum, and there's no way this is true, but there's this super rare form of cancer called adenoid cystic carcinoma, but of course you don't have cancer."

Of course, fast forward, that is exactly what I did have. And adenoid cystic carcinoma, I like to refer to it as badass salivary gland cancer. And you've never heard of it Jennifer, because it's so rare, (laughs), like only 1,500 people- I'm sorry, 15,000 people globally are, uh, diagnosed with it annually. And so there just aren't a lot of people. And as such, um, there aren't a lot of treatments and it is considered one of the incurable rare cancers. So I get this diagnosis and just to paint the picture, you know, you know my husband, we had gotten married, uh, a year and a half earlier. So I kinda got like promoted personally, promoted professionally, all in the same, uh, you know, time.


SARAH MCDONALD: And, um, and we were seeking fertility treatments because I was 42 when we got married. So I'm now 44. Um, have this big job, pursuing fertility treatments. I'm about to go through IVF and I get a phone call from the last specialist I saw saying, "I know I told you it wasn't cancer, Sarah. Turns out it's cancer." So, um, so it turned my life upside down. Um, I, uh, initially was in such shock, just thought I'd be able to kinda power through. But quickly realized, um, I needed to tell, you know, certainly my boss and the head of HR what was going on, that I'd been diagnosed with cancer and that I was gonna have to take a little bit of time off.

And I'm gonna pause here for a moment on my timeline because you hit on something that I really haven't spoken a lot about, which is and it's shocking, but it's the embarrassment associated with a diagnosis. And it's this weird I- I don't know, as if I had done something wrong. (laughs).


SARAH MCDONALD: To- to contract this, um, this disease. And, um, and I- you know, I was working with all of the executives at eBay, the- the role of chief of staff is really helping Devin run his executive team meetings, deciding what the highest and best use of their time is, um, ensuring that they're making, you know, timely decisions, ensuring they're getting information in order to make those timely decisions, um, and then ensuring that any decision that is made is executed, that- that is in part the role of a chief of staff. So, to suddenly get this role and then say, "I'm really sorry, I need to step back, I need to take," you know, I was like, "I'll be out for a month tops."


SARAH MCDONALD: Because I didn't- I didn't want to be viewed as like this vulnerable, I don't know. I don't know what was in my head but it was crazy. I was embarrassed, I didn't want anyone to know. There was shame associated with it. And it would be fascinating, you know, Brené Brown has done a lot of work around this. I- I would be fascinated to know how that plays into things like diagnoses. Because I- I had shame. Um, so then back to the timeline. (laughs).

I have, um, I have surgery to remove the tumor and I am meeting with the head and neck doctor, uh, to talk about the neck step in radiation. The other step, the other thing you can do for adenoid cystic carcinoma is you can radiate. So we're discussing this and Jeff and I came to the meeting with this big list of questions, I'm asking the questions, he's typing frantically on the computer to capture what the doctor is saying. And, um, I said, "You know, um, six years ago, I found a lump in my breast at another medical center. I found a lump and we did a mammogram, we did a sonogram, we did a biopsy, I had some surgery. Um, I was told that, you know, that the biopsy showed that there was no cancer, but I'm just wondering, could it be that this is metastatic cancer, this lump in my breast?" And my doctor said, "Sarah, you already have one of the most rare forms of cancer there is. And when it travels, when it metastasizes, it goes to your lungs and your brain." Which of course made me feel great, Jennifer.


SARAH MCDONALD: I was like great.


SARAH MCDONALD: I said, "So, not to your breast." And he said, "Not to your breast." He said, "So, if you were to have cancer in your breast, it would be a separate, unrelated, pr- what they call primary source cancer." He's like, "So if it'd make you feel better, you should go pursue it." So of course, you know, spoiler alert, I- (laughs), I went to my OB/GYN, saw a number of different specialists and, uh, determined that I had stage three breast cancer at the same time. So now stepping back from, (laughs), from the timeline again.

What is interesting is you can imagine I was in full freak out mode at this point. Like a lot of fight or flight every day of every minute. So from a mental health standpoint, Jennifer, I was suffering. I was suffering. And so I went to my breast oncologist and said, "I need help. Um, I- I would like to request that you write a prescription for some sort of anti anxiety medication. Um, I hear that exists." (laughs). "Would you- would you do that for me? Because I think at this point I might die of a heart attack-"


SARAH MCDONALD: "... before either one of these cancers can get to me." So I just kinda want to speak to the mental health and I wanna come back to the mental health. (laughs). But I also wanna say that at this point, um, one of my very best friends is a yoga instructor. Um, and she has done a lot of reading on Eastern practices, et cetera. And as I'm telling her all about this- this- these crazy diagnoses and all the doctors that I'm working with at Stanford, she said, um, "Sarah, those are your- that's your Western medicine. We're gonna call that team one." She said, "I'm gonna be in charge of team two, and that's Eastern practices." They're gonna heal your body. We're gonna heal your mind and your soul.


SARAH MCDONALD: And so I started doing (laughs) yoga, meditation, energy work, acupuncture, something called guided imagery, and I will tell you, um, I was a huge skeptic-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... and I found these practices, um, I got my life back.


SARAH MCDONALD: I... What it allowed me to do, you know, we're all heard, you know, there are five stages of grief-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... and that it's nonlinear. What it allowed me to do, all of these things, and especially the guided imagery, um, it allowed me to fully grieve, like (laughs) feel all the feels, spend time in the sadness, just really, really grieve what I thought my future was going to be, and kind of accept, you know, my life and accept this diagnosis, and I let go of that shame and that embarrassment.


SARAH MCDONALD: And that is really (laughs) when, um, you know, enter, enter friends like Jennifer Brown. This is when Jeff and I really started communicating to everyone. And when, um, I started blogging on Caring Bridge to let family and friends know what was going on, like I, I was like, you know what (laughs), um, uh, it is very likely that I will not see the end of the year, you know, that's, that's where we were at that point, it's very likely, so how can I live through this time and move toward my death with grace?


SARAH MCDONALD: And hopefully with some humor.


SARAH MCDONALD: And so that's, um, that's what I focused on going, going forward. And now I'm gonna take a break, so that (laughs)-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... so that you can, you can ask other questions.

JENNIFER BROWN: That's so beautiful. I mean-

SARAH MCDONALD: Thank you, friend.

JENNIFER BROWN: I mean, hardest thing to do, and, um, but you did it, and I remember watching it all and reading it all eagerly and, and just, you know, just rooting for you from so far away, and you've got such a community around you. Um, and p.s. what you feared and what you had made peace with didn't happen.


JENNIFER BROWN: And not only that, you know, I... maybe we do return to the timeline, but you continued to make some choices around pursuing having, uh, a little one-




JENNIFER BROWN: And, um, that was like, uh, ongoing, but you never... You, uh, ultimately would achieve that, um-


JENNIFER BROWN: ... through some really amazing things, too. So, I just... I wanted... Like stick to the facts like in that little vein-


JENNIFER BROWN: ... and then we'll come back to-

SARAH MCDONALD: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

JENNIFER BROWN: ... what you just said.

SARAH MCDONALD: So, um, so actually, um, it, the, it got darker (laughs)-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... uh, before it got light. And, um, soon, soon after the, the breast diagnosis, our amazing breast oncologist at Stanford asked both Jeff and me to come in, and, and Jeff went to almost every appointment, um, uh, but she, she specifically asked both of us to come in. And when she walked into the room, she, she walked up to me and she kind of grabbed my knees and looked at, looked me in the eye, and she said, "You've, um, you've been dealing with a lot."


SARAH MCDONALD: "Cancer diagnoses, that's a lot for you to process," she said, "and when you came to Stanford, I understand you first came to pursue fertility treatments." And I said, "Yeah, sure did." And she said, um, "What do you know about your fertility? What have you heard about your options at this point?" And I said, you know, um, "My understanding is should I get through all of the treatments this year, that we'd have to wait like two years and then, um, we'd be able to perhaps pursue IVF." And I looked at her, and she started shaking her head.


SARAH MCDONALD: And I said, uh, "Did I, did I understand that incorrectly?" And she said, you know, um, "After we get through all these treatments, I'm going to put you on a hormone suppressing medication to keep the breast cancer at bay."


SARAH MCDONALD: And she said, "And, um, you need those hormones to get pregnant. And I'm gonna have you on that medication for 10 years, so you'll be 54-"


SARAH MCDONALD: "... when, when you go off that medication. And, and pursuing IVF won't be on the table at that point." She's... And the she said, "So, I, I'm sorry, you won't be able to carry a child."


SARAH MCDONALD: "But there are many other ways to have a family." And I looked over at Jeff, and, I mean, you know, you know my husband, um, you know, we're both very optimistic. I like to say, you know, our glasses aren't just half-full, they overflow. Um, but I looked over at Jeff, and for the first time he had tears in his eyes, and he just said, "It's just too much."


SARAH MCDONALD: "It's all too much." And, um, so fast forward, um, two years past cancer treatments, um, we were feeling optimistic, bullish, that I might live (laughs).


SARAH MCDONALD: Um, that was, that was feeling good, and, um, so I raised the, the issue of a child again, and we started pursuing, um, surrogacy options. So, started looking into that. And at about that same time I had my two-year checkup with my breast oncologist, and I told her, you know, because she was like, "This is great. You've passed the two-year mark. This, this is terrific." And I said, "Well, it's great you say that," I said, "Because Jeff and I are, are thinking about surrogacy. You'll remember, you know, we were look-, going for fertility." She's like, "That conversation with you was one of the hardest I've ever had."


SARAH MCDONALD: She's like, "Just to be clear."


SARAH MCDONALD: And, um, and she said, "But I'm so, I'm so glad you say this, because there's just been a study conducted in Europe that followed German and Belgian women who had had breast cancer who willfully took themselves off their medications against their doctors' orders. They got pregnant, then they went back on their medications, and we didn't see higher incidence of recurrence."


SARAH MCDONALD: "So, Sarah, if you'd like to pursue pregnancy, we can."


SARAH MCDONALD: And I was like (laughs), "Oh, my God! Really?" So, then I had to go convince Jeff (laughs). Because, of course, he said, "I, I'm sorry. Let me get this right. You're going to go off the cancer medication? The medication that is keeping the cancer at bay, and then you're gonna pump yourself through... pump yourself full of hormones to get pregnant, and you think this is a good idea?" And I was like, "Sweety." He, he said, "I don't, uh, we can do it if we get a guarantee that neither of the cancers is going to come back."


SARAH MCDONALD: You know, with, with this. And I, and I said, "Look. Like we never have that guarantee."


SARAH MCDONALD: Ever have that guarantee with either of these cancers. I said, "And it is, it is, it is something I want to do. I want so much to feel a baby." And I said, "So, please, please let me do it. The doctors will be monitoring me. Please let me do it."


SARAH MCDONALD: And so I went off the medications and, you know, I got pregnant and we now have a-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... very feisty six year old (laughs).

JENNIFER BROWN: And you say in your notes that actually the hardest thing on your marriage (laughs) so far to date was not the diagnoses, but raising a kid together.

SARAH MCDONALD: Yeah, yeah. No question. We, uh, Jeff and I have gone through... So we got married late, right?

JENNIFER BROWN: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

SARAH MCDONALD: Which is a touch challenging, because, you know, you're set-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... in your ways.

JENNIFER BROWN: Yes (laughs).

SARAH MCDONALD: And (laughs), I, I'm sure you don't know anything about that, but, you know-

JENNIFER BROWN: No, no, not at all.

SARAH MCDONALD: So we've gone through... We've gone through job losses, we've gone through two ca-, we've gone through fertility issues, two cancer diagnoses, the death of my father-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... buying a house together, renovating a house together-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... moving. These are all like big-life things.


SARAH MCDONALD: Far and away, bar none, hardest thing? Raising a child.




SARAH MCDONALD: ... it... Like all these minefields of expectations that neither of you knew you had.



JENNIFER BROWN: We have, we have not to fight tho-, that battle (laughs).


JENNIFER BROWN: I'm very relieved, because I think it would be World War 3, truly.



SARAH MCDONALD: It's hard. It's hard. And I have a nice husband, you know?

JENNIFER BROWN: Yes, you do (laughs).

SARAH MCDONALD: You know? And I'm pretty nice, too, but it's-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... it's, um, but it's fantastic.


SARAH MCDONALD: So, right. All right. But, but, yes. So that, that was pretty, pretty super exciting. And, and in part why, uh, why I wanted to write this book. I mean-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... Jennifer, like I, I had three miracles. N-none, you know, there was no guarantee on any of these. I am, I am now, you know, I, I have, call it the Cancer Channel, One Year, Two Cancers, Three Miracles. And the three miracles are, I mean, no evidence of disease on the salivary gland cancer.


SARAH MCDONALD: No evidence of disease on the breast cancer.


SARAH MCDONALD: Guess what? I got to have that baby.

JENNIFER BROWN: Oh, my gosh, how beautiful.

SARAH MCDONALD: Just, just, uh, none of them were believable. And there, there was so much, um, rollercoaster up and down, including you know, um, during that same year, um, my dad's, uh, prostate cancer, which had been in remission, came back.


SARAH MCDONALD: It had, uh, metastasized to his bones, and, um, so, you know, it, it was very sad and hard for everybody in my family, but strangely enough, my dad and I, like it was a bonding experience like to go through cancer treatments with somebody and be able to talk very openly and honestly about how you're feeling. Um, that was amazing, and I feel, uh, lucky-

JENNIFER BROWN: Special time.

SARAH MCDONALD: ... in, in some, in some ways, lucky that I was able to share that with him and he was able to talk to me and I was able to talk the him.


SARAH MCDONALD: Because one of the things, um, you know, I kept a blog during this time, and you mentioned I was sharing with people-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... what was going on, but you do a lot of filtering when you're sharing with people, because some of the things you might say are hard. They're hard to hear. They're hard to say out loud. They're hard to hear if you are someone who loves the person who has cancer. So you do a lot of filtering. So my, my blog, um, when I actually sat down to write the book, what I decided to do was take all of the blog topics and explore them in more detail.


SARAH MCDONALD: And what I ended up doing was being a lot more honest-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... about what was going on. So the, the blogs tended to be funny. I talked a lot about the... and l-like the ridiculous physical indignities, like the time-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... they shot radioactive stuff into my nipple. Like crazy stuff like that.


SARAH MCDONALD: And you're like, no, really, that happened.


SARAH MCDONALD: My nipple. Um-


SARAH MCDONALD: But, um, I... So, uh, uh, so I, I just delved more deeply, and actually when Jeff read the book for the first time, he said, "I want you to put an author's note in just before you start the blogs." He's like, "Because I think if people read the blogs and then read the chapter, they might get whiplash. They might be like 'W-wait, you described it as this.'" And I... So, in the book I, I tried to, I tried to have the balance. Balance of humor, but also it, I, I would call it visceral honesty.

JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah. And what scared you the most to include? I guess, what felt like the riskiest thing that you put in those pages looking back?

SARAH MCDONALD: Well, it's, it's funny I, um, I have three editors on the book, and, um, the first two are friends, and the third is an editor I hired who has become a friend-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... but, um, she was very honest with me. She's like, "You have a lot of funny stories that we need to take out, Sarah. They're not central to this." I was like, "But they're funny."


SARAH MCDONALD: And she, yeah, she was like, "Yeah, take it out." Um, I, but, but some of them, um, like I did have a section on constipation, which-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... which we, um, with, with, uh, you know, um, wiser heads in the room we removed, uh, because nobody needs to hear about that.


SARAH MCDONALD: Um, but, um, uh, yeah. I, I, actually in one of the earlier versions of the book I shared it with, um, a friend at Ebay who was diagnosed with breast cancer after I was. She was diagnosed like a year after, year or two after I was, and hers came back.


SARAH MCDONALD: Um, uh, and, uh, and it had metastasized at that point.


SARAH MCDONALD: And I talk about it in the book, about going out to lunch with her, and she said, "I'd, I'd love to read your book," and, um, I sent it to her, and she said to me, um, "You know, Sarah, it's really funny. The book is funny." She said, "You've always been funny." She said, "But it's not honest."


SARAH MCDONALD: "Not... It's not an honest book," she said, "because you're not sharing the terror-filled moments."


SARAH MCDONALD: "The moments when you are slumped on the floor terrified, which I," she said, "and which I know you've had-"


SARAH MCDONALD: "... because I have, too."


SARAH MCDONALD: She said, "And if you want to write an honest book for cancer patients and for the people who love them, then you need to be honest about all of it."


SARAH MCDONALD: And so I went back and explored, um, in much, much greater detail some of the lowest moments I had-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... and I, I worked hard, hard, hard to just be as open and honest and descriptive about how those felt.


SARAH MCDONALD: Um, so that people know. Because, the, you know, I, I want... I want cancer patients to read this book and say, "Oh, that's a shared experience. I feel that way. It's valid how I feel. Somebody else..." I, I want them to feel less alone.




SARAH MCDONALD: And then, I want friends and family who are around that cancer patient, who are impacted, you know? Uh, devastated by their loved one's diagnosis, I want them to know what a cancer patient is going through, have an idea.


SARAH MCDONALD: Um, and so that was, that was the goal, and I, um, you know, forever, uh, you know, forever indebted to Sarvenance, was her name. I am forever indebted for Sarvenance for just being so open and honest and pushing me.


SARAH MCDONALD: Um, and, and sadly, um, she is not going to see the book, because she passed away-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... in 2019.


SARAH MCDONALD: But, but she's in the book (laughs).

JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah, she's in the book-


JENNIFER BROWN: ... and her memory lives on.

SARAH MCDONALD: Yeah. Very small part, but I am so grateful to her.

JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah. I, I think we all write, um, in my books, too, I had people around me who said, "You've gotta go back," exactly like you just described, "and, and, deepen it and make it more personal and more vulnerable." And, um, I think we, we resist that, right? Um-


JENNIFER BROWN: And, um, but it's, it is absolutely those true, true moments that connect us to our reader and enable them, everyone to feel less alone, which is the whole purpose of the book. Um-

SARAH MCDONALD: The whole purpose.


SARAH MCDONALD: The whole purpose.

JENNIFER BROWN: I want to know, so what, like leaving employers out of it, you don't need to like name names, but I, I, you're, you're so career driven, you're such a Type A person.


JENNIFER BROWN: And it's funny. I was reading your notes, and you said, "That has definitely not changed about me." (laughs)


JENNIFER BROWN: ... And it's funny, I was reading your notes and you said, "That has definitely not changed about me." (laughs)


JENNIFER BROWN: Like, You have not become the- you said, "The hippie, zen lady that you- that you- (laughs) your alter ego," so to speak.


JENNIFER BROWN: Um, which is great, because you got to know yourself, and- and just kind of claim. Like, this is who I am, you know? It- So, as much as it changed you, I'm sure it didn't change you, you know?


JENNIFER BROWN: And, um, but I wonder. Being around you, um, and- and- a- your career must've completely changed it's place in your life from a priority standpoint, but initially, I'm sure you remember sort of that you had the shame, and then, you probably remember, and you write about, like, what helped you most to hear from those who you worked with? They're, you know, to- to- and what do you wish, perhaps, if- if there's anything you wish had happened that didn't, because I think- I think we all- we all, um, we listen- listening to the Will to Change, we're in workplaces, and we're- and we're trying so much to anticipate life changes that are going to happen.

We know they're gonna happen both to us, and others, and, um, and happen for us, all that, and- and- and thinking, "What would I say? What do I do? How do I support? What does our organization need to make sure we de stigmatize and we make sure people know is available?" And, um, and all those pieces kind of, I find anyway in my consulting work, and very uneven.

SARAH MCDONALD: Hm. Hm. Yeah, yeah.


SARAH MCDONALD: Um, so, I'll- I'll kind of lead with this, and this- this is a topic I really, really want to get into, and have actually had a number of, uh, corporations, um, you know, kind of through the Ebay network, which is where I spent the majority of my career, a number of people from Ebay have said, "Hey, would you come talk at my company, um, about some of these issues?"

So, I'll lead with, um, uh, corporations are individuals, and, uh, the individuals who took care of me at Ebay were amazing. Nothing- nothing short of amazing, but I told Devin... Well, I told Kristen first. Kristen Yetto, who was the head of HR. I told her I had cancer, uh, she was, um, then, absolutely present for me. Um, very empathetic and said, "I- From here on out, I don't want you to worry about anything. I want you to go tell Devin. You need to go tell Devin, um, but I- I got you," basically is what she said.

I went to Devin. I told Devin, and you know, even before asking me what kind of (laughs) cancer it was, he was just like, "Hey, listen. I'm totally new to this company, but to be very clear, um, we will take care of you whatever you need," and- and I want to be clear, um, you know, I obviously paid a lot more attention to this type of thing after I had had a health crisis, but I- I always experienced, and say, Ebay stepping up, regardless who someone was in the organization, um, to support.

To support, really, uh, help people out, but then Kristen went on, you know, I- I think I told Devin and Kristen on a Thursday. Kristen went on to text me almost every day for the next month, just to check in with me, and Kristen and I didn't know each other that well. I had just started working in this role, but she would just say, "Hey, just checking in on you. Hey, how's today? Hey, weren't you going to go to the doctor today? What'd you hear?"

It just- not in a, like, her goal... I- I refer to her as, like, my lifeline on cancer island, because when you receive a life threatening diagnosis, I liken to you, you're- you suddenly feel like you're on an island all by yourself, and all of your friends and family are on the shore, like, partying, enjoying life. (laughs) Their life is going on, and- and here I am on cancer island with- feeling like there are no resources. I'm all by myself, and how is it that everybody else's life is going on?


SARAH MCDONALD: And what Kristen would do- Kristen, and- as well as my fertility doctor, who after Jeff, was the second person I called (laughs) to say, "Hey, we're not doing the IVF, dude." (laughs) But both Kristen and, um, and Ruth, um, sa- um, texted me almost every day for a month, uh, just to give me those lifelines on- on cancer island, and, um, in fact, I dedicated the book to the two of them, because showing up and being present, um, and giving people a lifeline to cancer island, I- I cannot tell you how important that is, um, so, we can- we can come back to that, um, but, uh, you know, I- this is another area where I got really lucky.

I got super, super lucky that, um, uh, that Ebay was the company that it was, and- and it wasn't just, you know, Devin and Kristen. It was, you know, as other people heard who- who would reach out to me, and- and just let me know that, you know, they cared about me, and they wanted to know what was happening, including, you know, the then CEO of Ebay, who's John Donahoe, or Beth Axlerod, who was the CHRO of Ebay. Like, they were both tremendous, just- and- and human, which is- which is what I would say to people.

Like, when- when somebody (laughs) is going through, um, a- like, a crisis of this magnitude, which you, you know, what I would strongly suggest as a manager is trying to see them first as a human. This is a human in crisis, and sh- you know, you're- you don't know what to say. You- I- and- and so, the best thing you can say is, "I am so sorry you're going through this. It must be hard," and then just stop and listen, because, you know, it- it's a- you know, again, people have shame, they have embarrassment.

It's probably really, really hard to tell- tell someone, um, to say, "I need help," um, or, "I- I don't know how my body is going to take these treatments. I don't know how I'm going to show up. I don't know if I'm going to be able to do my job," and in- in my case, I'm- I was in white collar, you know, job. I- I initially, with the first cancer diagnosis, (laughs) tried to keep doing my job, you know, remotely, um, doing my email, and- and, um, Kristen turned off my email.


SARAH MCDONALD: She's like, "You are (laughs) no longer allowed to do email."


SARAH MCDONALD: "You need to be focused on healing." It was- I mean, it was tremendous, and she did it out of care, you know? Care for the employee, and that, you know, (laughs) um, I'm sure there were corporate concerns as well, (laughs) but- but- but she saw me as human, and treated me as human, and that- that is how I was- I was treated, um, throughout, and I feel so lucky for that. I am, uh, shocked, and dismayed, and horrified when I hear of cancer patients who are going through, um, these, uh, what can be debilitating treatments, and they need to keep working.

They- they, um, or- or they'll lose their insurance, and if they lose their insurance, it will mean financial ruin for their family, because I will tell you, even though I- I knew in my heart of hearts that I would figure everything out with the insurance company, I had to bring ninja level project management skills-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... In order to argue with the insurance company to cover everything, and it's just- because it's so confusing, because, like, the doctors, you know, number identification isn't- of- of the procedure that was done doesn't line up with the insurance companies, blah, blah, blah. I- I- I- There were times when I would receive insurance bills that were in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and (laughs) I was, like, calling the insurance companies saying, "We're gonna figure this out, right?" And- and- I- Again, I have really good project management skills, so I can't-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... Imagine if you are someone going through this and, um, you're afraid of losing your insurance, you're afraid of the financial ruin that you might cause your family, and Jennifer, I have heard of people who make the decision not to take the medicine, not to take the treatment, and just let the disease run it's course, because they don't want to financial impact their families, and, um, you know, it is hard not to get teary about that.

That- Like, that's messed up. That is really messed up, and, um, we're not gonna solve the healthcare industry, and insurance, and all of that on this podcast, but, um, that- that is something that needs- needs to be figured out, but going back to my earlier comment (laughs). What- what corporations can do is, um, I would love to see, you know, I would love to see a world where corporations, like Ebay, can say, "Hey, we got you, and take the time you need." Like Devin said to me, "Leave, go, and don't come back 'til you're better. We have no expectations. Just go heal. Go," and- and having that stress removed was, um, I don't think I even fully appreciate what a gift that was. Um, um, I have an idea, but I- I don't know if I can fully appreciate, um, what an amazing gift that was.

JENNIFER BROWN: Beautiful. So much is broken, and so inequitable, in our systems and-




JENNIFER BROWN: Even- even you with the- with the ninja level that I know you have, um, sorting it, keeping it organized, advocating for yourself, having the bandwidth to do that, and- and the privileges that you and I both share.


JENNIFER BROWN: It's, um, so I guess I wonder, like, do you- how do you feel called- I wonder what questions you get most when you speak, and where do you feel called, then? Like, what do you feel called to do beyond- Well, this writing of a book. I don't want to minimize it. It's enormous, and- and it's a memoir. You- you originally intended it as, like, a handbook, and it ended up being a memoir, which I am so grateful for, because there's so much, like we were talking about, more personal, more, um, I think for memorable, because you connected so beautifully to your human experience, and sort of the universal themes that so many of us-

We can see ourselves in, even thought we're not literally going through what you're going through, you're an incredible story teller, and make it really intimate, um, but I- I do wonder sort of. I know this has changed you. I know it's changed what you want out of your life, what your priorities are, like, tell us what- what have been the biggest changes in how you see yourself, and your voice, in the world coming out of this.

SARAH MCDONALD: Yeah. Um, uh, I'll- I'll just do that, like, the- the biggest epiphany is when you have a life threatening diagnosis. Simply, nothing else matters. Everything else is noise, and so, all of my hopes and dreams, uh, you know, for my- (laughs) my corporation aspirations, blah, blah, none of that mattered. Not zero, and I- I think in, like, maybe in being treated so humanly by everything at my company, I think in, uh, in exchange, or what I learned, what just to show up more human with everyone, and so, I think that's one of my biggest learnings.

It, um, I'm super, super comfortable about talking about hard things with people now, and you know, I went back and spent, you know, another six years at Ebay, you know? Very, very loyal employee, odiously, (laughs) um, I spent another six years at Ebay in various, you know, um, leadership roles, and it just was a hell of a lot easier to show up for people, because I- I had some inkling when they were having challenges, um, of what that lived experience might be.

Um, and then after Ebay, I went and worked at a startup as a COO, and- (laughs) and it was, you know, I started before COVID, but I had a good year of- of being a COO during COVID, and all of the mental health issues that- that people were struggling with, and, um, I just- I- I felt really comfortable in it. Um, all of it has gotten easier, talking about the hard things, um, and leaning in to the humanness, leaning in to my heart, like, allowing myself, like, I'm- (laughs) I- you know, I- I took the, uh, you know, taken the Myers Briggs ex- you know, um, uh, exam I don't know how many times. Like, a dozen times, and I always come up ENTJ-

JENNIFER BROWN: I knew it. (laughs)

SARAH MCDONALD: Um, yeah. (laughs) The thinker and feeling. I'm actually right down the middle, and I've always thought, "OH, well I gotta- I gotta lean into the thinker," right? That's- that's- that's the- the leader, right?

JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah, right?

SARAH MCDONALD: And actually, leaning into the feeler has actually made me the more effective, um, leader. Um, no question. So- so, um, so- it's- it's- I- I am hard pressed to say it's a superpower. I just feel like it's a- a- a tool that I have now, um, and that I believe, like, everybody says, "Oh, be more vulnerable. Feel-" absolutely. (laughs)


SARAH MCDONALD: No question. No question, um, and, um, uh, and- and actually, it's funny. I had someone who worked for me pre cancer, and then she worked for (laughs) me again post cancer, and, um, we were, like, two weeks into it, and she said, "Oh, you're a very different leade- leader now," and I said, "Say more," (laughs) and she said- she said, "Better." She said, "Better. The- this is, um, this is- this is really great."

So, what am I called to do now? Um, you're- you're right. This started out- (laughs) Writing this book started out as a guidebook. What I started to do during the year of cancer, that's what I call it, the year of cancer, um, I, um, I was doing so much research, and I found the medical books, (laughs) you know, I'm- I'm reasonably intelligent, but I- (laughs) like, I was, like, I'm- I'm having to, like, look up every other word, and-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... It- it just was- it was a non-starter. So, then I read some simplified, like, what is cancer written by doctors, and what I was seeking is kind of, like, what's the lived experience by a cancer patient? And I wasn't finding that, and I didn't- and I- I was still- the language is a mystery, the treatments were a mystery, all of that. So, I started writing a guidebook to the newly diagnosed, with the idea being a patient would share with another patient, "Here's what you- here's what- here's what you should expect." (laughs)


SARAH MCDONALD: Here's what to expect when you're expecting.

JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah, that's exactly.

SARAH MCDONALD: What to expect when you're diagnosed, right?


SARAH MCDONALD: And so, I started it, and then, I went back to work, and kind of set it to the side, and then, um, you know, I had my maternity leave, and I picked it up again during naps, and I made some more progress, and then five years post cancer, I thought I was having a recurrence. I started having some very worrying symptoms, um, that would- that had both my head and neck doctor, and me, convinced that I was having a- a recurrence, and that kind of made sense, because adenoid cystic carcinoma. It likes to come back at, like, five to 10 years.


SARAH MCDONALD: So, um, that was my understanding. So, um, but we did a whole bunch of scans. Um, and it came back and it was no evidence of disease. I- I didn't have the cancer, but I had kind of a three week period where I remembered what it was like to be diagnosed and- and this time I had a two-year-old. And I was like, "Oh my God. How did I ever make this decision to have a child? Oh my God. I can't leave her." Right?


SARAH MCDONALD: So, I was, I- I s- went to Devin and I said, "I need to take a year off, and, um, from eBay, and I need to write this book."


SARAH MCDONALD: And so, I did. Um, uh, I was, I was granted a leave of absence, unpaid leave of absence, and, um, I- I- I wrote, I finished writing the guide book. And then I started shopping it around, and to be clear, Jennifer, I knew no one in the publishing industry.


SARAH MCDONALD: But in my- my sister-in-law has actually written a, like over 20 cookbooks, but they're children's cookbooks.


SARAH MCDONALD: A very different world than-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... that ours, right?


SARAH MCDONALD: Um, and she could be moral support, but, um, anyway, I, um, uh, so, but I did friends and family. She had some connections. I talked to friends and family, and every person, uh, I sent the guide book to said, um, uh, uh, "You have some, y- like you have a great voice. It's funny. You're funny. You're- you have a great writing style. But no one is going to read a book from a cancer patient. No one. There- they will want to hear from doctors."


SARAH MCDONALD: And of course I was like, I disagree.


SARAH MCDONALD: Respectfully.


SARAH MCDONALD: Respectfully disagree. Um, but they said, "You know what you should do, is you should write a memoir." And I was like, "Oh." Uh, you know, I was like cringing. I was like, "Oh, memoirs seem maybe arrogant and self-absorbed for somebody who is neither famous nor infamous," you know. (laughs).


SARAH MCDONALD: So, I'm not sure this is like really-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... my- my thing, but then I realized I was spending so much time telling people this crazy story that I thought, all right, get over yourself.


SARAH MCDONALD: And I, um, and I wrote the memoir.




SARAH MCDONALD: Uh, uh, so what I would tell you, what am I called to do? I'm called to tell stories.


SARAH MCDONALD: I'm called to tell these really, really hard stories.


SARAH MCDONALD: I'm hopeful, um, that I can tell the, some of these stories at companies. I've done some of that. And as I said, I'm- I'm talking to a couple of different companies about coming in and talking about, you know, how do you work with employees who have these crises or- and/or how do you talk about resilience, you know, things like that. Um, so I really, really hope I am given the opportunity to do that.

Um, and I have great hopes for the memoir. If it, if it does really well, and so far it is a best seller on Amazon, so I'm excited about-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... that. Number one best seller, woo hoo. Um, if it continues to do well, I really would love to dust off that guide book and- and- and publish it. I would like to dust off, do- do the editing process that I know it needs, but I would love to, um, to publish that because I- I do think there's a place.


SARAH MCDONALD: Um, and a need-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... for cancer patients to, um, to have a guide book from another patient.

JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah, beautiful. I think that's- that so makes sense in terms of the order, in a way. Like even though it was not what you wanted or what you thought you were gonna start with, I actually think the memoir is going to really reach so many more people that would not have picked up the handbook. And then go to the handbook, right. The esta- you're establishing your voice and, um, you're gonna be a light for so many people, such a beacon, um, and such a brave like real messenger around this. And I love also that you, uh, you just have a gift for packaging things and- and making sure you're extracting the insights that are most important on a personal level, but also for employers, that t- this story's needed and a speaker like you is needed, and- and perhaps it won't be literally what people are going through, but they will be able to relate, um, w- whether it's the stigma and the shame, whether it's the, asking for leave, becoming your own advocate.

Um, and really if you didn't work for an eBay, bettering your institution to make sure that things are in place so that people feel supported and not, um, not- not, uh, not supported by cluelessness and, um, like you said, sort of the- the pressure and the sort of, the company matters most of all, versus the individual. Like that mentality is everywhere. And, I mean, that's- that's my work, honestly, is to make sure we're- we're- we're- we are supported fully so that we can find our home and our community and are best at work in the context of, you know, institutions. Not all of us can be entrepreneurs. And so I think a lot about these organizations and their health.


JENNIFER BROWN: And they're only, they're only, they can consist of the health of the people in them, you know.

SARAH MCDONALD: That's right.

JENNIFER BROWN: And the flexibility-

SARAH MCDONALD: That's right.

JENNIFER BROWN: ... you know, to come and go as life happens to us and to get that kind of flexibility of, um, to know there's a place for us and to have the courage, uh, to advocate and take care of yourself, but to be met on the other side of that table with an immediate ... I love the story about Devin, like immediately. Y- you know, what kind of person does it take to have that be the first thing out of your mouth?


JENNIFER BROWN: When it's very rare. So, um, it's a great goal for all of us listening to this, you know, to sort of question how would we, you know, faced with this information coming to us, h- would we be ready to respond and would we respond in that way? I mean, just that, I'm gonna hold that image, you know, with me. And we've had the same thing in our company. You know, we've learned, in some ways, the hard ways, like even how it works to support someone, you know, in a crisis. And, um, and that's why we introduced an EAP, for example, so our employee assistance program, at a, such a small company. It's a very, it's unusual, but we found, you know, the more we've-

SARAH MCDONALD: It's so needed.

JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah, it's so needed, and, you know, every, uh, companies of every size can afford these things-


JENNIFER BROWN: ... and need to. And also health insurance benefits, even for small companies. We started to offer that during the pandemic. So, you know, we've had a huge learning curve in education too around supporting each other and, um, have had to say goodbye to some amazing people while they, you know, cope with this sort of stuff, hoping they come back. Um, and sometimes they're able to and sometimes they're not. But, um, companies of every size, I think need to adopt the best practices from perhaps what we thought was the province of larger companies, because, um, it- it's a must. I mean, what people are going through now, you know, you've got to dig deep, you know. In your start-up, I'm sure you were a big advocate (laughs), to say-

SARAH MCDONALD: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah, right? Like-

SARAH MCDONALD: Well, and like, I did so much talking with people about mental health, um-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... during that time. But- but I- I agree with you. I mean, and the, uh, the loyalty that you would engender not just with the person going through crisis-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... but the other employees who see how you're showing up for that employee, like the loyalty that it builds is tremendous. And like I came back and worked for six more years at the company, right.


SARAH MCDONALD: And- and so, uh, you know, it- it, um, uh, you know, it's- it's something that companies can be really, really proud of. And this is the thing. Y- you know, like, um, wh- when somebody has to take a leave for health reasons, it- it's pretty binary. They're either gonna come back because things got better or they're not gonna come back.


SARAH MCDONALD: And that's because things, you know, didn't resolve, you know, and- and perhaps they died.


SARAH MCDONALD: And that would have happened either way, right, you know. And if you can give them every chance to live, to take the time and the space, um, to heal, and, um, like how much more that says about your company and then, um, everyone at your company as humans. Like- like how you helped a human through what is, you know, arguably the largest crisis of their life.

JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah. Beautiful.


JENNIFER BROWN: Thank you so much, Sarah. Thank- I really appreciate this. I, uh, I find you such a- a light, as I said. And, um, and funny and irreverent and l- and lighthearted, I think, and- and like appreciative and grateful, you know, for the less, and being changed by what happened to you, and being willing to talk about how it changed you and what you learned. And, you know, and now becoming an educator about it, right, which is what we do if we can possibly to go through the thing, and then to talk about the thing, and then to teach around the thing.


JENNIFER BROWN: And then to hold space for the- the thing and the sort of, you know, the- the system and how it, how it needs to change to support, you know. You have so much information, that I hope people really listen to and heed, and, uh, make those changes today, because it's happening. It's not like it's going to happen. It's happening.


JENNIFER BROWN: Uh, happening. So, um-

SARAH MCDONALD: It's a matter of when.


SARAH MCDONALD: It's a matter of when (laughs).

JENNIFER BROWN: It's a matter of when, right. And, uh, so be prepared. Don't be caught, you know, un- unprepared and lose c- you know, key people. And I, you know, safe to say, you're- you're a gem, I'm sure. And, um, but- but this treatment has to be extended to everyone, um, because, you know, our emerging talent, there are those high potentials in there. You know, there's people that will like be incredible as they grow and thrive and mature, you know, and I think we cannot afford to lose any human from the- those, from our workforce, you know. We're- we never know what someone's contribution is gonna be, and, um, and yet so many things get in the way of that contribution and interrupt- interrupt that path. And, um, so I always tell companies like this, you have to take this, your job is to support people through not only like change the biases in the system that are impacting them through no fault of their own, but life circumstances that happen to them, acquire diversities, and see them all the way through and play the long game, you know.

That's- that's the long game.

SARAH MCDONALD: Play the long game. Play-

JENNIFER BROWN: It's the long game (laughs).

SARAH MCDONALD: That's right. That's right. So Jennifer, I just, you know, thank you so much, as always, for your bubbling enthusiasm. I, uh, you know, w- and- and you and I could talk for five more hours and we (laughs) we need to find the opportunity to do that, seriously.

JENNIFER BROWN: We will. We will, but in the meantime, Cancer Channel, everybody, buy it, give it, gift it.


JENNIFER BROWN: Bring it to your head of HR (laughs).

SARAH MCDONALD: It is, it is available on Amazon in Kindle, paperback and hardcover.


SARAH MCDONALD: And then, uh, and then Jennifer, I actually also created a website, where I am blogging on a weekly basis.

JENNIFER BROWN: Good for you.

SARAH MCDONALD: Um, it's called




SARAH MCDONALD: And you could go there and you can read excerpts from the book and you can, you can read my blog.

JENNIFER BROWN: Hey, and maybe even get in touch with you with questions.

SARAH MCDONALD: They can get in touch with me-

JENNIFER BROWN: Yes, please.

SARAH MCDONALD: ... with questions or if your company wants me to come speak, I, uh, or if you want me to come to a book club, the, I'm getting contacted by a lot of book clubs, which is-


SARAH MCDONALD: ... kind of fun. I can Zoom in. I can drink rose with the best of them.


SARAH MCDONALD: So, um, so anyway, you know, please- please contact me that way, but Jennifer, thank you so much for the opportunity. I so appreciate it.

JENNIFER BROWN: Thanks for writing the book, Sarah.


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DOUG FORESTA: You've been listening to The Will to Change, uncovering true stories of diversity and inclusion with Jennifer Brown. If you've enjoyed the episode, please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. To learn more about Jennifer Brown, visit Thank you for listening and we'll be back next time with a new episode.