Podcast Brunch Club

My Survival Story is an independent podcast about living with (not dying from) cancer

An interview with the show co-creator, Katarina Hagstedt

My Cancer Story co-creators, Katarina and Martin

Katarina Hagstedt and her husband, Martin, started a podcast to highlight empowering and inspiring stories coming from cancer patients around the world. As a cancer patient himself, the podcast was born out of pure necessity–Martin craved positive stories from people like him. My Survival Story podcast was born out of that need.  It’s a podcast for everyone and ultimately comes down to the basic humanity behind life and death. I was lucky enough to get to talk to Katarina about her and Martin’s journey–one that is both figurative and literal.

PBC: What’s the short description of your podcast?
Katarina: It’s a narrative series about a young couple traveling once around the world to collect stories about how people live with cancer and exploring how cancer can be a catalyst for good.

PBC: Why did you decide to start it?
Katarina: When my husband Martin was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer as a 32 year old, he wasn’t very inspired by the content he found online. It seemed like a great outlet for patients to share their experiences, like a therapy for the person sharing, but as a young cancer patient looking for inspiring content to consume, Martin felt it was hard to find relatable stories that were not only about cancer, but also about the human behind. When I met Martin, I also realized that as a partner and family member of someone with cancer, I also looked for relatable content and experiences. Looking online, I got anxious from browsing worrying cancer forums with loads of overwhelming emotions that dragged me down and fueled my fear, rather than making me feel connected to others going through a similar experience. That’s why we started collecting stories that we liked. We took care to “curate” these stories and make sure we tell an interesting story behind each experience. Because ultimately cancer teaches us all something about life and death, something most of us ponder at some point in our lives. Cancer is just a catalyst that forces us to consider all these things with greater urgency.

PBC: You started the podcast with your husband, Martin. Tell me about him and how you two met.
Katarina: If I tell you the full story now, it will be a major spoiler of episode 2 of the podcast! But I can say this – Martin was in remission from his first pancreatic cancer treatment, had a nice sun tan after a recent vacation, and was full of life. So yes, I consciously decided to date a guy already diagnosed with cancer. In many ways I had no idea of what I was getting myself into. But it was one of the best decisions of my life.

PBC: What do you hope the audience will get out of the podcast?
Katarina: We hope that we make people think about some of the most basic themes of all our lives. To keep walking through our fears, whether that fear might be dying of cancer, or starting a new business or sing in front of people. We want to shed light on all the beautiful, authentic ways people show bravery in big and small ways, and hopefully inspire our listeners to do so too.

And for the people currently going through cancer – we hope to fill a little part of the need for inspiring, relatable and well told stories we felt was missing when we started this.

PBC: How many countries did you visit and what was your favorite?
Katarina: We visited 13 different countries, interviewed more than 30 cancer survivors with many different types of cancer and stages of decease or survival. It is so tricky to pick a favorite country, but we were stunned in Malaysia where we interviewed one Buddhist lady, a Muslim woman and a Christian girl and they all referred to “acceptance” as their most important tool in life. All filtered through their religion, but it was striking to see how similar these religions are in the end. It felt hopeful–especially in the times we live in, with a lot of division.

PBC: How can people get in touch with you?
Katarina: People are very welcome to visit our website mysurvivalstory.org where we share additional stories, with videos from our travel and behind the scenes material to the podcast. Email is also fine, [email protected].

This interview was published on November 25, 2018.

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