a man sits with his hands folded in front of him and cries

Cry, Cry and Cry a Little More

During my 30-plus year career as a head coach in many sports, I had to be the tough guy all the time. I could never display weakness and definitely could never show any negative emotions. Toughness and self-drive were my trademarks. I survived a three year stint in the United States Army where men were men. Showing more toughness, I worked hard and put myself through college. In addition, I tried out for and made a college football team. This was a feat that no one gave me the slightest chance of accomplishing.

My diagnosis changed everything

Always being able to achieve things on my own, hard work hardened me to feeling any emotions, let alone the tendency to cry. I had conditioned my emotional side to hide any feelings of fear or failure. Never, and I mean, absolutely never would I allow myself to cry in public.

My psyche began to change shortly after I received that first Lupron shot from the urological oncologist. Actually, if I think back just a little farther, I cried the very day they diagnosed my cancer. Totally in shock, I called my wife and we both cried on the telephone together.

No plausible reason for the tears

However, the real emotional changes began shortly after the aforementioned Lupron injection. I noticed slowly a slight tendency to cry. Sometimes I would not cry over anything in particular. No one around me understood how I was feeling and how my body was changing. They all failed miserably to gleam the transformation of my body including my psyche. “Why are you crying,” they would ask. Searching and searching, I could find no plausible reason for the tears.

Depression became the norm in my life. “You try dealing with cancer, radiation, chemo infusions, loss of sexual capacity, and just knowing your days are numbered,” I wanted to shout.

Cancer forced me to retire early

A major loss in my life was that of being a professional educator. I loved teaching and interacting with the students on a daily basis. I had gone from daily interconnection with hundreds of people to nearly no interchange period. As soon as the final diagnosis of stage IV cancer was confirmed, I was pretty much forced to accept a disability retirement, long-term disability, and Social Security Disability. On many occasions, I have passed the school where I worked and I would begin to cry uncontrollably.

No longer able to do what I love

In the past, I had been an avid sportsman. I loved our tradition of hunting in West Virginia. Climbing the many mountains during the hunt was a joy. However, following my cancer treatment, trekking up and down those steeps quickly became a thing of the past. No longer did I possess the strength or stamina to hunt all day. My father, who also passed away from advanced prostate cancer with extreme bone metastasis, and I loved to turkey hunt every spring. Our cancer extremely limited our ability to get out there to where the bearded gobblers roamed. We both lamented and cried over that key fact.

My new normal

I still continue to cry at the drop of a hat and my family and friends still fail miserably to understand why it is so. Slowly I have build up an immunity to those queries as to why I am so very emotional. Maybe it is some built-in inability for others to understand as it protects the image and notion they have of life.

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