Episode 32: From "Jeopardy" champion to living with cancer, Jeff Stewart's story

Our guest this week is a scientist, an author and a father living with cancer, Jeff Stewart, who talks about the uncertainty of time. He delves into the complexities of calculating risk, understanding the abundance of sometimes ambiguous data and partnering with your oncologist or health care provider to help navigate uncertainty. Jeff addresses misinformation and biases in the US healthcare system, emphasizing the importance of evidence-based resources and treatments. Jeff also discusses some of the insights presented in his book, “Living: Inspiration from a Father with Cancer”.

About our guest

Jeff Stewart is a managing director at Syneos Health, scientist, inventor, award-winning playwright, and father of seven. He was a Jeopardy! College Champion and runner-up in the Tournament of Champions. Jeff is the author of "Living: Inspiration from a Father with Cancer" which was featured on NPR. Jeff lives in Cary, North Carolina.

Watch the video of our episode on YouTube

  • 4 minutes:

    On living with uncertainty.

    If my cancer gets to be metastatic, for the very particular kind I have, the average life expectancy is between five and six months, if it progresses. On the other hand, roughly speaking, there's a 50% chance that I am already cured. That what they have done with a combination of chemo, radiation, and surgery has already cured me. So I can be sitting here right now with a completely normal lifespan in front of me. I used to think of my life maybe in 5-10 year chunks, where I might change a job or think about how I might invest a certain amount of time for that future. And that's gone now. Now my investment has to work both for the next five months and has to work for the next 50 years, which is just a strange place to be.

  • 38 minutes:

    On the difference between biases in regulated healthcare versus unregulated alternative treatments.

    So I mean, it makes sense to all of us to say that pharma companies are biased. They are. They're my clients, they are. This is just how it is. They're there to make money and cure patients. It's not just pure altruism out there. The [alternative medicine companies] are also there to make money, but don't have somebody threatening to arrest them if they lie about things. They don't have somebody checking their work. It's just a completely different ball game. It is the difference between being cold because it's winter and cold because you are in outer space.”

  • 47 minutes:

    On why Jeff wrote his book.

    At the time when I decided to start writing, it was when I'd already had surgery and it was then at that point possible. They thought I had metastatic disease. And so that was the point where they thought I had five months left. So in that case, I wanted to get these tips that make life in general, not just life with cancer, into the hands of my kids, in case I'm not there to help make life easier.

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