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 The Richard Cohen-Meredith Vieira Interview (Page 1 of 3)

An Interview with Richard Cohen & Meredith Vieira


Richard M. Cohen is an Emmy award winning television producer and best-selling author.  His book, ďStrong at the Broken Places,Ē tells the intimate stories of five people living with serious chronic illnesses. ďStrong at the Broken PlacesĒ was born of the desire of many to share their stories in the hope that those who are ill and those who love them will see that they are not alone.  Richard and his wife, Meredith Vieira sat down with Editor-in-Chief Gary Barg to talk of their lives as parents, professional communicators, and partners in care.


Gary Barg:  Why do you think language is so very important to people living with chronic illness, and to their families? 

Richard Cohen:   Well, I think language is a powerful weapon.  People who have chronic illnesses have a constant battle with how people see them.  And I always say, when Iím talking to groups, that youíre really fighting on two fronts.  Youíre not just fighting an illness, youíre fighting public attitudes and public perceptions of the person with the illness, and many times that can be worse than the illness. 

Meredith Vieira:   I wanted to pick up on what you were saying, Richard, because perception also applies to the people who are with someone who is chronically ill.  We have been fighting the perception that I am somehow the, woe is me, burdened selfless martyr.  Almost every article starts out referencing that in one way or another when that couldnít be further from the truth. 

GB:  Yes, those articles make me cringe and the word that gets me usually is ďvictim.Ē 

RC:  Itís hard enough for people who are dealing with serious illness not to think of themselves as victims.  I think that youíre all but giving up when you see yourself as a victim, and then to have people relate to you that way is a psychological burden. Itís hard enough to keep yourself from thinking that, especially when everybody around you seems to want to think it. And I think people who donít deal with illness imagine that we sit around here all evening wailing and beating our breasts and suffering or something.  Iím not suffering.  I have a great life.  I may be dealing with an illness, I may live with an illness, but Iím not suffering.

GB:  How do you keep your communicative partnership going?


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