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062: Sylvie Leotin on Life as a Cancer Patient

Uninvisible Pod

062: Sylvie Leotin on Life as a Cancer Patient

Sylvie Leotin is many things. She started her career in France as a gold-medal ballerina, later moving to Silicon Valley as one of the first women to research at Stanford…
February 19, 2020
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062: Sylvie Leotin on Life as a Cancer Patient

Sylvie Leotin is many things. She started her career in France as a gold-medal ballerina, later moving to Silicon Valley as one of the first women to research at Stanford Robotics Laboratory. She has held positions in engineering, products, marketing, sales, business development, and communications; she is the founder and CEO of Tech Atelier, a multidisciplinary strategy agency advising startups and beyond. A contributor to media, academic, and literary publications, she holds an MS in Engineering and Economic Systems from Stanford University, as well as an MS in Computer Science. After a 20-year career, however, she became something else entirely: a cancer patient. Struggling to be recognized by her healthcare providers, she began to write about her experience. A new voice emerged, and her transformation led her to patient advocacy. A creative intellectual, her skill has always been in understanding unvoiced needs. And that’s exactly what she does in her blog, which has been shared widely around the world. In this frank and philosophical interview, she tells Lauren about the long road to her breast cancer diagnosis…and how she continues to seek improvement in patient-centered care while embracing life after treatment.

Tune in as Sylvie shares…

  • that she knew something was wrong, but had inconclusive test results — and waited 3 years for a solid diagnosis (20+ biopsies and many doctors later)
  • that meditation and hypnosis have been incredibly healing for her
  • additional modalities that have helped her: Reiki and healing touch
  • that the manner in which the medical treatments recommended for her breast cancer were administered felt both sterile and brutal
  • that taking care of yourself with chronic illness is a full-time job — and it’s hardest when you’re alone
  • something that really helped her navigate treatment: a workbook a friend co-created with her based on National Cancer Institute guidelines
  • that she’s writing a book based on her experience — for both patients and practitioners alike
  • that she has developed medical PTSD since starting her cancer treatment
  • her realization that cancer is an illness completely misunderstood at the human level
  • that it takes great strength to insist on changing doctors when you need to
  • that healthcare needs to be redesigned around patient comfort
  • how cancer is misrepresented in media
  • that cancer is a chronic illness
  • the emotional toll cancer takes on a patient
  • that chronic illness forces patients to transform — and this involves grieving one’s old self as well as opening the door to one’s new self, and then communicating that to others
  • how she has embraced her transformation and is getting closer to who she is now, every day
  • that she has made a conscious effort to face her mortality
  • why it was crucial for her to find her voice and learn to ask for what she needs
  • that you cannot heal by fighting; healing comes from letting go
  • that Twitter is her favorite support space as a cancer patient
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