Newfound Sense of Empathy Makes Cancer Survivor ‘Feel More Human’

After surviving cancer and the many bad days that come with a diagnosis, voice actor Rob Paulsen noted that he had a newfound sense of empathy that helped him out of some of his darkest days.

Surviving stage 3 squamous cell carcinoma of the throat gave voice actor Rob Paulsen a newfound sense of empathy that he did not have before receiving his diagnosis.

“I certainly encourage other people to do whatever it is that can help you bring a deeper sense of empathy to yourself. It makes us literally feel more human,” said Paulsen, who voiced characters on popular cartoons such as “Pinky and the Brain” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

Paulsen said that this sense of empathy — and seeing people who may be in worse situations than him — helps him to refocus when he starts to feel sorry for himself.

READ MORE: ‘Authentically Emphatic’ Late-Stage Patient Inspires Fellow Cancer Survivor

Transcription:

I’ve had so many experiences during my treatment in which I would start to feel a little sorry for myself, and then I would see someone who was really struggling. And I then could put myself in their shoes — or their hospital gown — and think, wow, you know what this is like, and they're probably on their way out.

So I think that the empathy that I've been able to cultivate has become such an important part of my whole self. And I, I am so grateful for it. And I certainly encourage other people to do whatever it is that can help you bring a deeper sense of empathy to yourself. It makes us literally feel more human. I am not, by nature, I don't think a hypersensitive person. But boy, I'll tell you what, when you go through something like (cancer), you're certainly able to have many moments during the day in which you say, “Boy, that that could be me, or that could have been me.” And I'm just so grateful.

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