A widely-renowned Halifax-based podcast that destigmatizes what it’s like to live with chronic illness will soon be holding its first live show in months — but this one will look a bit different.
Jeremie Saunders, Taylor MacGillivary and Brian Stever started Sickboy Podcast in 2015, when they started interviewing people about their experiences with illness, death, disease, mental health disorders and everything in between.
Saunders, who’s lived with cystic fibrosis his entire life, says the COVID-19 pandemic has presented its own set of unique challenges — both for the podcast and for his personal health.
“It’s safe to say it’s probably been the most interesting time of my life,” Saunders said in a phone interview Saturday. “I’d be lying if I said it didn’t come with its share of ups and downs.”
Cystic fibrosis is the most common fatal genetic disease affecting Canadian children and young adults, mainly impacting the lungs and digestive system. The average life expectancy for those living with the disease is just over 50.
When COVID-19 arrived in the Maritimes, Saunders was forced to take extensive precautions.
“I couldn’t even begin to scratch the surface with all of the challenges we’ve faced,” said Saunders. “It’s the most interesting thing to sit back and look at how much has happened since … the last day I was out in public.”
The pandemic has also altered how the trio puts together the podcast. Saunders says the group had previously felt strongly about strictly recording the podcast in-person, but they’ve learned to adapt to the new normal.
“When COVID struck, initially I thought it was going to have a pretty severe impact on our ability to connect with others,” said Saunders.
“But we realized there’s software and technology out there that actually creates a really intimate space online, especially for podcasting.”
Another benefit of recording the podcasts digitally, Saunders says, is it provides them with the opportunity to speak with guests they would otherwise be unable to connect with.
“We have a guest list right now of over 1,500 people from across the world,” he said.
“With the quarantine forcing us to have these conversations through a little tiny screen, it actually taught us that we’re totally capable of having these meaningful conversations with just as much humanity, regardless of whether or not we’re sitting in the same room as them.”
Prior to the pandemic, the trio would host live podcast recordings where they would raise money for Cystic Fibrosis Canada and other initiatives.
On July 8, they’ll be hosting a similar live show — this time virtually. Saunders says it’ll just be the beginning of Sickboy’s pivot to offering more video content as the team adapts to the new world of virtual performances.
“We’re really excited to bring (the live) experience to people no matter where they’re living,” said Saunders.
The event is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. AT. Tickets can be purchased here.