Sickboy podcast laughs in the face of terminal illness

Jeremie Saunders, 29, suffers from cystic fibrosis. He knows the disease will eventually kill him. But instead of wallowing in private despair, Saunders did the opposite: He started a podcast where he has frank and funny conversations about death and illness.
The hosts of the Sickboy podcast. From left: Brian Stever, Jeremie Saunders and Taylor MacGillivary. (Jeremie Saunders)

Conversations about death and illness are never easy to have. But while most of us may try to avoid these subjects at all costs, Jeremie Saunders dives in head first. 

Saunders has cystic fibrosis, a respiratory illness which will significantly diminish his life expectancy. 

We try to tear down the walls of stigma and get rid of any of that awkward cloud that surrounds the topic of illness.- Jeremie Saunders- Jeremie Saunders

Yet Saunders, 29, isn't one to wallow in self-pity. He and his two best friends, Brian Stever and Taylor MacGillivary, host the Sickboy Podcast. Their guests are people suffering from serious illnesses, or who have been sick before.

Saunders says he does his best to separate conversations about death and dying from their usual dour and depressing tone.

"We just have a conversation about what it's like to live as a sick person and how we can relate to one another," he says. "We try to tear down the walls of stigma and get rid of any of that awkward cloud that surrounds the topic of illness. We try to do it in a way that brings a sort of levity or lightness to the situation."

Jeremie Saunders. (Jeremie Saunders)

Saunders often uses his own struggles with cystic fibrosis as a tool to relate to the guests. His own journey toward accepting what he calls his "expiry date" has been filled with moments of anger and confusion.

"I was 10 years old when I found out cystic fibrosis is a fatal disease," he says. "And I found that fact out on my own, no one told me."

Saunders says it took years for him to discuss his illness with his parents. He credits the podcast for giving them the platform to have an honest conversation.

"Hearing my parents almost be slightly in denial, or not wanting to face the facts that my shortened life expectancy is slowly but surely getting shorter and shorter, was pretty eye opening for me," he says. "And it really solidified the fact that I want to continue to just prepare everybody for the inevitable."

To hear the full story about Jeremie Saunders and the Sickboy Podcast, click Listen.

This segment originally aired February 19, 2017.