As boys, we are told to be brave. As men, it’s much harder to talk about life, health or feelings than the latest sporting news. Men feel they aren’t allowed to open up, even to themselves, for fear of being seen as weak or unattractive. The pressure of the ‘traditional idea of masculinity’ stops most men from taking care of their health and allowing their emotions to be lived. Testicular cancer forced me to alter this.
At the age of 30, the diagnosis of testicular cancer hit me between the legs (excuse the pun) in more than one way. Losing one nut was one thing, but suddenly I had to face my health and emotional state. There was no other way than grabbing all the courage available and being brave. Brave enough to go through chemotherapy. Brave enough to confront my feelings. Brave enough to face my health, well ill-health. Brave enough to face my death. Brave enough to face my students at school. Bravery pushed me to tell them what happened to me. I had to warn them because the youngest boy I met who had been diagnosed was 12 years old.
Today, I’m brave enough to tell ‘manly’ men: “Yes, my one nut is fake because the real one tried to kill me.” Morbid and crass I know, but I realised this is a way to get men to check themselves. That was the start of my foundation Love Your Nuts – Testicular Cancer Education in a Nutshell.
Recently, I received an email that brought tears of joy to my eyes (Yes, I am now totally in tune with my emotions now):
“We met at last year’s Nuts and Bolts Rally…
I had a very bad end to 2016. I was diagnosed with TC (I know….what a coincidence right…) and my orchidectomy was done a week before Christmas. I am blessed that I caught it in the early stages and my CT scans came back clean. My biopsy of the remaining testicle also came back clean. I have an appointment with the oncologist next week Tuesday. I was wondering if we can meet up for coffee because I am really in the need of some guidance and advice.
I am grateful that I attended last year’s rally, especially the information session the weekend before where you shared some information about TC and how to check yourself. Who knows, if I did not attend that session I probably would not have taken the situation seriously and the cancer could have spread. Thank you so much for the great work you do.
After a coffee with Rikus and his visit to the oncologist, I received this message:
Early detection is life-saving. And if it is detected really early, you can even skip the torture of chemotherapy!
Since the beginning of this year, I now work full-time for my foundation with the best job description ever: talking balls and saving lives. When the organisers of the Hollard Daredevil Run asked me to be one of their 2017 ambassadors, it was a no-brainer. We have the same goal. We complement each other. I hope many men were brave enough to take part in this year’s Daredevil Run (www.daredevilrun.com) that took place on the 24th March.
So, I know being a man – it’s hard to know to talk emotion, so why not talks balls with your mates! And, remember shape, size, age and colour doesn’t matter; cancer is not picky!