ANN ARBOR, Mich. – “I end each podcast with ‘My name is Tina Zaremba and I’m searching for strength, grace and trust,’" said the creator of “Chemo Stories: One woman’s search for strength, grace and trust.”
Raised just outside of Ann Arbor in Lodi Township, voice actor Tina Zaremba has created a 14-part podcast series about her journey through breast cancer and chemotherapy, an experience shared by around 250,000 women every year, according to the CDC.
Launched at the beginning of October, the series chronicles Zaremba’s inner monologue and experience from diagnosis to recovery.
Zaremba said through Zoom that her podcast series is part pre-recorded audio journal, part pandemic passion project full of intense raw emotion.
The podcast series begins with her recounting the weeks leading up to her diagnosis, going through chemotherapy and sharing the best advice she received from another breast cancer survivor.
“My hope is that this podcast becomes a tool for women going through breast cancer who are in need of guidance and empathy and a renewed sense of strength,” Zaremba said.
Over the course of the series, she shifts from being terrified to finding a sense of grace and trust, which she hopes helps listeners by demystifying the breast cancer experience.
✉ Like what you’re reading? Sign up for our email newsletter here!
In addition to chronicling her story, “Chemo Stories” also discusses mental health and empathy.
During her experience with breast cancer and recovery, Zaremba found that the aggressive rhetoric typically used as supportive statements, phrases like “kick cancer’s ass,” didn’t resonate. Instead, she would create mantras for herself like, “‘In this moment Tina, you’re here and you’re alive.’ "
When she wasn’t even up to that, she would just think ‘cancel’ or ‘delete’ to erase whatever thing or thought had brought her down.
Zaremba found that fixing her mindset through things like self-care, meditation and acupuncture allowed to her focus on good emotions that helped her to withstand the mental effects of chemotherapy.
She currently lives in New York City where she was treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Although she had a support group and a specialist through her treatment, Zaremba said there was a lack of resources focused solely on mental health alternatives, which she said were critical to her journey. She’s hopeful that her podcast can help others experiencing the ups and downs of their own breast cancer journeys or struggling with difficult situations.
Instead of turning to battle-based rhetoric, she wants people to know that it’s ok to not know how to comfort those experiencing breast cancer.
“It’s ok to be silent or to say ‘I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how to support you. How would you like me to support you? What can I do?’ and to not have an answer,” she said.
Through her experience with breast cancer and recovery, Zaremba learned that its ok to not know.
Her podcast normalizes the breast cancer experience and offers listeners coping strategies that worked for her. Episodes for the limited series range from seven to 10 minutes.