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Life. Playing by the rules, doing the right thing, working hard and striving to be a good person can give us a sense of control and security. At least that is what Leah believed until she was diagnosed with advanced ovarian and breast cancer when she was 46 years old. She quickly realized that life is truly precarious - filled with uncertainty and dependent on chance. Through hearing other's stories of their precarious moments, we realize that this is actually what connects us as human beings. There is beauty in the struggle.

Why So Precarious?

Episode 1 | February 24, 2020

Welcome Leah Barrett interviewed by the founder of Mental Health News Radio Network, Kristin Walker. They talk about her show and why the name of it is Precarious.

Covid 19
How Afraid Should I Be?

Episode 4 | March 19, 2020

In this episode, Leah talks about how experiences with cancer parallel the experiences of living in a time of a world-wide pandemic, a.k.a COVID-19. She poses the question, "How afraid should I be?". She examines our need to feel in control in order to feel safe in uncertain times. She challenges us to sit with the fear. She offers guidance, support and wisdom to help us through this precarious chapter in history.

Image by Tyler Nix
Choosing Life or Death: A Story of a Cancer Crossroads

Episode 7 | April 21, 2020

In this episode, Leah shares the beautiful and heart-breaking story of her friendship with Tamara and how their lives intersected at the most pivotal moments in their decisions around treatment for ovarian cancer. While Tamara chose to end treatment and Leah chose to continue treatment, they found ways to support and love each other along the way.

Treat Often, Cure Sometimes, Comfort Always

Episode 10 | May 13, 2020

This is a very special episode of the podcast. Leah interviews one of her primary oncologists, Dr. Diana Medgyesy. Listen to this intimate and revealing conversation about how Diana works to balance hope and the reality of her patients' cancer experiences. She shares personal stories illustrating the strength, courage and love she witnesses on a daily basis even in the face of death. You will leave feeling hopeful about humanity.

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The Unexamined Life is Not Worth Living

Episode 13| June 9, 2020

If you asked Dan Via, he would tell you that he lived a pretty idyllic and privileged life: a successful pediatrician, a Juilliard-trained musician and happily married. Then in 2011, while on vacation, he suffered a spinal cord injury that left him initially paralyzed from the neck down. Dan shares his story of letting go of the life he knew and being open to a life of renewed possibilities - a life examined. Dan Via is a pediatrician with Sentara Pediatric Physicians in Williamsburg, VA. He has been in practice for 23 years. Dan attended Duke University, received a Master’s degree from the Juilliard School in New York, and then spent seven years as the principal bassist of the Virginia Symphony.He then returned to Duke for medical school, was a resident physician at the UNC-Chapel Hill Medical Center.

Holding Hope

Episode 16| June 25, 2020

How do we hold on to hope in the face of daunting odds? Well, it starts with understanding what hope is. It's not a souped-up version of optimism. It's actually something quite different. Leah talks about how she has found, and lost, and found hope numerous times through her cancer experiences. She encourages us to believe in the healing power of Hope.

Grief is the Price We Pay for Love

Episode 19| July 16, 2020

Within six weeks, Nora McInerny lost both her husband and father to cancer and had a miscarriage. She was 31 years old and her world fell apart. Nora believes that we don't "move on" from grief. Instead, we learn to move forward and live with our loss. Leah and Nora share personal stories about their losses through laughter and tears. They encourage us to remember that grief is the price we pay for love and they wouldn't have it any other way.

Lives Revealed

Episode 22| August 7, 2020

Leah sits down with Lori Gottlieb, a psychotherapist and author of the New York Times bestseller "Maybe You Should Talk to Someone". Going to therapy is an invitation to look inward, take risks, and be vulnerable with the hope of seeing ourselves more clearly, removing our blind spots and revealing our lives.

Radical Acceptance

Episode 25| August 27, 2020

This episode is a conversation between Leah and Joe: two very different people connected through their struggles and wisdom gained. This is a conversation about being human and learning to live with the messiness of life.

Happy Alive Day!

Episode 2 | March 5, 2020

When Michelle Faris woke up on the morning of June 7th to go for a bike ride with her friends, she had no idea that her life would be forever changed that day. Listen to her story of how her precarious moment turned into her path of recovery from a severe, long-standing eating disorder.

Cancer & the Coronavirus: Is this a Crisis or a Chrysalis?

Episode 5 | April 3, 2020

If you asked her, Tracy Maxwell, a 4-time cancer survivor, would tell you that cancer is the best thing that ever happened to her. In this episode, Tracy talks about how a crisis like cancer or the coronavirus presents us with transformative opportunities. She is an author, speaker and coach. Tracy’s cancer story has also been profiled in Cure, Singularity, A Woman’s Health, Prevention and Denver Woman magazines among others.

I Have Reasons to Live

Episode 8 | April 27, 2020

Elana Miller always knew she wanted to be a doctor. In 2013, the finish line was in sight. She couldn't wait to start this new chapter of her life practicing Integrative Psychiatry. Elana's life took a detour when in December of 2013, she went to the ER because she was having trouble breathing. The chest x-ray revealed a huge mass in her chest. She was diagnosed with Stage IV Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma, a rare and deadly type of cancer. She was 31 years old. She survived and rebuilt her life when in the fall of 2019, she relapsed. Listen to her inspiring story of courage and resilience. "I have reasons to live!"

People are My Bucket List

Episode 11| May 20, 2020

Leah gives a health update about her cancer status and how her most recent doctor's visit was the impetus for this episode. Bucket List is a term that has been tossed around as a way to get clear about what you want to experience in your life before you die. Not a bad idea. The pandemic has certainly put a damper on pursuing "big" experiences. And, maybe that's a good thing. This has certainly given Leah clarity about her bucket list. It's not about big experiences. It's about people.

There are No Happy Endings

Episode 14| June 16, 2020

"There are no happing endings. Endings are the hardest part. So just give me a happy middle and a very happy start." A quote by the late Shel Silverstein. In this episode Leah challenges us to think about how much we focus on endings and finish lines as a way to measure our value. She encourages us to think about our worth through a very different lens.

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Stories of Resilience are Medicine for the Soul

Episode 17| July 1, 2020

Amy Newmark, Chief Editor and Publisher for the Chicken Soup for the Soul Series, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2018. She worked as much as she could through treatment. As part of her job, she reads hundreds of stories of people's precarious moments and their resulting resilience. Living through her own precarious moment, Amy saw these stories through a whole new light and found comfort in them when she needed it the most. Stories Heal.

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To Be Human is to Suffer, But Not Unnecessarily

Episode 20| July 23, 2020

BJ Miller, MD knows something about suffering. When he was a sophomore in college, he experienced a tragic accident that shaped the course of his life. From months spent as a patient in a burn unit, he learned that the simplest acts of care of the most healing. With this wisdom, he pursued a career in medicine specializing in Palliative Care. He is an advocate for shifting the paradigm around how we think about what's most important at the end of life.

Spiritual Bypassing

Episode 23| August 13, 2020

Wouldn't it be great if there were a sure fire way we could experience personal growth without all of that hard work? Well, the self-help industry (and it is a billion dollar business) says "Yes, we can help with that very thing!". It's human nature to find ways to decrease our pain and suffering when we are struggling. Yet, it's that very process of learning to sit with and self-examine that is the gateway to true growth. In this episode, Leah talks about the concept of Spiritual Bypassing and the risks it poses to the changes we are hoping to achieve.

I'm Brave and So Are You

Episode 26| September 3, 2020

Living with uncertainty takes courage. In this episode, Leah talks about how she struggles to find courage in the face of cancer. She encourages us to accept fear as a normal part of being human. She shares ideas about how to live fully in this present moment. WE can all Find Our Brave.

Love is Elastic

Episode 3 | March 13, 2020

Eryn Del Monte's life changed in an instant. A "typical" Wednesday marked the day she became a 29-year old widow. And, while her heart was broken, she learned that Love is Elastic. We never forget the ones we love and can learn to love again. 

Making Meaning From Life's Hard Stuff

Episode 6 | April 8, 2020

In this episode, Leah explores the concept of Resilience. Are we born resilient or can we learn to be resilient? Why do some people seem to bounce back from adversity more than others? She shares her personal experiences with cancer and what this challenge has taught her about becoming resilient. She offers that living through the coronavirus/pandemic is the perfect practice field to grow more resilient.

You're Not Going Crazy, It Just Feels Like You Are

Episode 9 | May 5, 2020

In this episode of Precarious, Leah shares her experiences of being a mental health therapist during the pandemic: the most collective Precarious chapter in our recent history. The level of stress we are experiencing is unprecedented. It has some of us feeling like we are "Going Crazy". She offers wisdom and support around how to manage the threat the pandemic presents to our mental and physical well-being.

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When You Don't Get What You Want, You Get Experience

Episode 12| June 3, 2020

Sarah Gray was 3 months pregnant with twins when she found out that one of them had a rare birth defect. He died 6 days after he was born. Sarah and Leah talk about how we never really get over these awful events. Instead, we can see them as an opportunity to grow. Sarah Gray is the author of the award-winning, Washington Post bestseller, A Life Everlasting: The Extraordinary Story of One Boys Gift to Medical Science. Her work and her family's story has been featured on CNN, WNYC's RadioLab, The Moth RadioHour, TED Talk of the Day, The Associated Press, Science Magazine, Reader's Digest, The Atlantic and other major media outlets. Sarah Gray is an organ, eye, tissue, and blood donation advocate and regularly speaks around the country.

Being Black in America is Precarious

Episode 15| June 19, 2020

What if your skin color is what made your life precarious? Not an illness, not an accident, not some experience that happened to you, but the color of your skin. Leah talks with Saja Butler, a musician and owner of Urban Monk Studios in Fort Collins, CO about her experiences of being Black in America. Through sharing personal and painful stories, Saja challenges us to sit with the discomfort that we are feeling right now. She inspires us to look at ourselves honestly even if we don't like what we see. Here is where the change begins. And, of course, Music Heals!

What Facing Death Taught Me About Facing Life

Episode 18| July 9, 2020

Knowing you are going to die is an incredible gift. Just like grief teaches us about love, death teaches us about life. Leah shares her thoughts and feelings about facing her own death and how it has taught her to face her life.

A Dog's Love is the Purest Form of Love

Episode 21| July 30, 2020

This is a love story: the story of Leah and Ginger, her 12 year old Golden Retriever who died unexpectedly. In this heart-felt episode, Leah shares her grief in the most vulnerable way with the hope of normalizing this experience. To love is to grieve.

She Wasn't Afraid to Live

Episode 24| August 20, 2020

Leah sits down with one of her high school classmates, Karla Zahn. As they reminisce about life in small town Wisconsin, Karla reflects on how her "candy coated" life suddenly took a different course the day her 19 year old daughter, Elli, died of depression. Listen to this powerful, raw and beautiful conversation about depression, mental illness and suicide. It's important.

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