Sickboy breaks illness-related stigmas through humour Halifax-based podcast hits The Gateway
The Gateway’s Thursday, Jan. 11, 2017 conclusion to the Polar Jam marked Sickboy’s first collective appearance in Calgary, with a line-up of guests that wrote in as fans to appear on the podcast to talk about their illnesses.
Sickboy is about making conversations about illness and disease easier to have, and to make them less taboo through humour.
“It was initially hard talking about the darker side of illness, but laughter makes it easier,” said Brian Stever.
“We want to encourage listeners to have these conversations in their lives too,” said Stever.
Sickboy was started and is hosted by a trio of best friends from Halifax, N.S.: Brian Stever, Taylor MacGillivary and Jeremie Saunders.
The podcast originally started three years ago as an idea about Saunders talking to doctors regarding living with cystic fibrosis. Three years later, Sickboy has more than 500 applications from people wanting to be on the show according to Stever.
“It [breaking stigmas] makes our lives as humans a bit more valuable and connected,” said Stever.
Stever said Sickboy once had a guest on the show, Andrew Henderson, a man living with terminal lymphoblastic lymphoma, who already planned out his living funeral and got good news about his condition at the time of recording.
“A few months after that episode, he took a turn for the worse, and ended up having his living funeral.
“It was so powerful,” said Stever.
“We learn the most in life when we become comfortable with the idea of death. On the show we talk about death, but we also talk about how to live,” he said.
Stever also said initially the trio wasn’t sure if people would have the same sense of humour as them and, for example, if you were to start joking around with someone in a bar about a disease or illness in the way things play out on an episode of Sickboy, it wouldn’t be “socially acceptable.”
“They [the fans] make this mean so much more than we think. A podcast about video games wouldn’t feel as fulfilling because of [Sickboy’s] impact on other people’s lives,” said Stever.
Although Stever said he and his friends work full-time hours on Sickboy, he also said he works as a realtor on the side and that the other two work as yoga instructors.
Stever said he loves working on Sickboy not only because of the impact the podcast has on fans, but also because of the freedom the trio gets.
“There’s no nine-to-five, [I can] be where and when I want and I get the freedom to spend a majority of my time with my two best friends.
“That is a pretty cool thing, especially when fans lives are touched.”