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Today's Takeaway with Florine Mark

Apr 5, 2021

With Vanessa Bayer, Emmy-Nominated Actress, Comedian, and Author


Our social relationships with family and friends form the center of our universe. We might disagree at times, but at the end of the day, we want to show our support and be there for them. Sometimes difficult conversations are necessary. This can be hard enough for adults, but the situation becomes even more challenging when talking to children. As parents, our first impulse is to protect our children and prevent them from seeing or hearing things that might frighten them. Talking to your kids about illness or death can be especially sensitive. When our kids see us upset, how do we explain to them what we may not even understand ourselves? You may recognize my guest today, Emmy-nominated comedian and actress Vanessa Bayer, from Saturday Night Live or for her roles in movies like Office Party and Trainwreck. What you may not know about Vanessa, though, is that she was diagnosed with childhood leukemia at age 15. That experience inspired Vanessa to write the children’s book How Do You Care for a Very Sick Bear? The book helps parents talk about extremely tough subjects with their children like illness. She shares with us about her own experience with childhood illness, her career in show business, and more.


What You’ll Hear on This Episode:


  • Where and how did Vanessa grow up?
  • What kind of student was Vanessa?
  • What was Vanessa’s first job out of college?
  • How Vanessa’s illness first presented when she was 15.
  • How did Vanessa adapt to the side effects of chemo like losing her hair?
  • How Vanessa’s friends, family, and sense of humor got her through the tough times.
  • When was Vanessa “cancer-free”?
  • What was Vanessa’s first job in showbiz?
  • What was working on SNL like?
  • How did Vanessa come up with the idea for her book?
  • What’s next for Vanessa?
  • How did Vanessa end up living in Michigan for a summer?



Today’s Takeaway:

When you have a disagreement with an adult friend or family member, sometimes the best thing you can do is to stop talking and really listen. Try to understand their point of view and why they feel as they do. Remember that every single day is a gift and even when we disagree with people, we can still learn from each other. Vanessa’s experience with childhood leukemia really taught her how hard it was for family and friends when a loved one is ill and how difficult it can be for parents to talk with their children about illness. This sensitive subject and other tough conversations are ones we often shy away from — especially with very young children. As Vanessa’s book illustrates, showing how to love and care for a beloved toy who is sick might help them better understand what a loved one is experiencing and going through. Healthy communication is a two-way street and there are bound to be misunderstandings and disagreements along the way. We’re all human beings with our own opinions, but sometimes the most difficult conversations can produce the greatest results. So, let’s embrace those tough conversations and strive for a greater understanding of each other by listening to, respecting, and especially loving each other. It’s so important to forgive and forget. I truly feel lucky to be alive today and I cherish it as the gift that it is! How about you? I’m Florine Mark and that’s “Today’s Takeaway.”

Brought to You By:

Florine Mark

Mentioned in This Episode: 

Vanessa Bayer

Vanessa on Instagram

How Do You Care for a Very Sick Bear?