Only Human | Podcast Review | October 29, 2015 | By

Only Human: “Who Are You Calling ‘Inspiring?'”

A groom tackles the questions of life, love, and living with cancer.

This episode starts with a lovely wedding scene, and anyone who did not read the summary would assume that the topic of conversation would be something about the power of love. A minute or so into the episode, however, you learn that the focus on the episode is actually on Max Ritvo, the groom, who happened to also have been diagnosed with cancer at age 16. Max started the interview by claiming that he didn’t want a single aspect of the wedding to be about the cancer. He wanted the focus was on the marriage, on himself and his bride, and not on the fact that the love was overcoming great obstacles, etc. etc.

As mentioned, Max was diagnosed as a teenager. Eventually, the cancer went into remission, and then ultimately there was a relapse during his senior year of college. He is currently 24 years old.

Max brings up several thought provoking points, not all of which happen to be cancer-related. A composed yet comic intellectual with an incredible vocabulary, Max does discuss certain struggles with facing late adolescence and young adulthood while cancer-ridden. For example, Max mentions that he lost a lot of friends when the cancer returned in college. In one of his more somber moments, he explained that it was difficult for people to handle for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was the fact that he was starting to become resentful by seeing people’s futures just beginning while his was ending.

One of my favorite commentaries on the episode was Max’s observation that everyone talks about the future. So much of conversation is completely future-oriented. It got me thinking, when was the last time I’d had a serious conversation or stream of consciousness in my own head that wasn’t future-oriented?

This episode was enlightening, mainly, in my opinion, because it was quite similar to the first episode in structure (both described the philosophies and outlooks of a cancer patient), but extremely different in content and, ultimately message. Both had starkly differing observations and thought processes about the experience of living with cancer and undergoing treatment. It just goes to show that, given the ever-so-slight genetic differences among humans, there really are so many different ways that humans approach situations.

About the Author

Annie Ungrady is a writer at Audiologue, where she writes a weekly column called Podcast Perusal with her impressions of classic podcast and radio episodesYou can email her at

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