The Wheels On The Bus
Having battled prostate cancer several times plus a dose of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma combined with the needed treatments (surgery, androgen deprivation therapy, 40 radiation treatments and four months of chemo), you might imagine that my head was filled with a few negative thoughts. For a time, I found myself living life from a place of anger, frustration, and an overall feeling of being pretty much defeated.
Making my life count
Over time I began to realize that there was not much I could do to change a cancer diagnosis. That said, I could change my outlook and how the diagnoses impacted me. My new journey began by making an intentional decision to live and to make my life count.
For many years I had been in marketing and sales, so I began by looking at what was missing in my new life and in the lives of other men who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. I soon realized that I was in a small percentage of men who went in for a routine physical. It was not until 2016 that an article referenced in Harvard Health - which noted how often men skip or delay health screenings and going to the doctor - reinforced my suspicion that I was an oddball.
Beginning in 2014 after my prostatectomy, I began speaking about men’s health and men’s lack of awareness to any audience that would sit still. Having a 10-year background as a motivational speaker gave me an opportunity to tap into some of my past connections and venues and introduce folks to a new topic.
When speaking to men, I've found that almost all agree that family is their highest priority. Starting with that foundation, it was a matter of building on that logic to get men to realize the importance of taking on personal responsibility for their health.
By understanding that it was not the women in their lives (mother, sister, wife, or partner etc.) who were responsible to look after the health of the men in their lives, it became easier for men to see they needed to be in charge when it came to routine physicals. And before you ask, I think people in verified good health may not have to go every year.
Developing a game plan
From there it was a matter of letting male logic take over and allowing audience members to suggest the next steps. Soon men would suggest things like setting objectives and developing a game plan.
Given a chance, men love to plan and take charge of situations. Ask any responsible man who will take care of his family when he is gone. After a long blank stare, the brain kicks in and “the wheels on the bus” get moving in the right direction.
Speaking up about prostate cancer
For men impacted by prostate cancer, I suggest they get involved in education groups and hopefully tell their survivor story to other men. Ever since starting my mission to break the wall of silence that surrounds prostate cancer, I have seen time and time again: men listen to survivors far more intently than they do to physicians or partners.
In closing, I think it's important to share our story with others. Seize the moment and speak up, if you're willing, because no matter how you look at it, silence is not a cure when it comes to prostate cancer.
What was the most difficult part of your diagnosis?