This week’s episode of Five Things has a bit of a backstory: I originally contacted Emily McCay back in the fall of 2016, when I was just starting to record interviews for this podcast. She and I have a lot of friends in common, and I knew her from her work as the owner of the Diaper Fairy delivery service and the Diaper Fairy Cottage on Bardstown Road. I have young kids, and although I didn’t use cloth diapers, I was familiar with the community she’s created at her shop. She responded right away that she’d love to take part, but she just wasn’t feeling well, and wondered if I could check back in a few weeks.
It turned out that McCay was in the early stages of what would become acute myeloid leukemia, and she shifted the focus of her life to fight the disease. She received chemotherapy and eventually a bone marrow transplant (her brother was the donor) and she is now in remission, and feeling pretty darn lucky, all things considered. It was wonderful to welcome a recovering Emily McCay to the studio to talk about her unexpected year and the items that represent where she now finds herself.
Listen to our conversation in the player above.
On her business, The Diaper Fairy and the Diaper Fairy Cottage:
“A lot of people in town know me as the Diaper Fairy, and I’m not above wearing a pair of glitter wings in public, with a polka-dot green dress and leg warmers. It’s kind of defined who a lot of people in the community see me as, because I am my logo. It has given me the opportunity to connect with families in Louisville in a very intimate way, through their journey as a parent, which is a huge transition for a family. It’s a position of honor to be with them as they find out who they are as parents, and to be able to help them feel empowered in the decisions that they’ve made for their family. “
On finding out she had acute myeloid leukemia:
“I turned 41 Derby weekend, and I was 40 at diagnosis. My birthday’s in May and I actually fell sick in August. We didn’t know that it was actually leukemia until Halloween. But I was so excited to turn 40, and I had a really fabulous birthday month, to be honest, with lots of celebration. My thirties were great and everybody that is in their forties have said, if you loved your thirties, your forties are going to be even better. So the shock of a cancer diagnosis at forty was just life-changing, obviously.”
How her community has supported her through her illness:
“I’ve had a lot of people thank me for being so visible through this process, and to be honest, I don’t know any other way to do it. Having the support from people who feel that our journey as a family and my journey in my health has helped them value their own priorities differently, maybe, and for me to be able to be an inspiration for them in their lives has made the difference.”