Today is World Cancer Day.
Somewhere around 24 years ago on this day, I was taking the Metro daily to George Washington University hospital in DC for radiation treatments.
It sucked. Big time.
But, I’m one of the lucky ones.
I’ll spare you all of the details, but in December of 1990, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. I had surgery just before Christmas and follow up radiation in January and February of 1991. Without question, the worst few months of my life.
Having said that. I am very, very fortunate. My cancer was detected early, the surgery was successful. The radiation was preventive in nature.
I don’t have a lot of specific memories from those three months. I remember that we quickly changed our Christmas plans. We had planned to travel because my stepfather and father-in-law were both having surgery for prostate cancer the same week. We stayed home and actually had one of our most favorite Christmases ever.
The next few months are a blur of hospital visits and treatments, and of feeling very tired. I think my not remembering the details was my way of coping with what was going on. I had two questions: will it hurt and will I throw up?
The answer is yes.
But I say all of that on World Cancer Day not because I’m some great guy who managed to fight his way through. Again, I was very, very fortunate.
I say it instead to raise awareness. Awareness that cancer research and treatment needs more money, and that it really shouldn’t have to be government money. I say it to raise awareness that people, and men I’m talking to you because I can, need to see their doctor for routine check ups. Young men need to perform self-exams and older men need to bend over and cough.
Sorry to be indelicate, but there’s no room for being polite when one’s life may be at stake.
Over the years, I’ve tried to help promote awareness, and for a while helped organize a men’s cancer support group. I still promote awareness when I can. I turned my Facebook profile purple this week in support of World Cancer Day and because Chevrolet promised to donate $1 to the American Cancer Society for every purple profile picture. No, this one’s not a hoax. Check it out on the Chevrolet site. And this ad:
This April I’ll be walking the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K in support of Massey Cancer Center. Last year I promised to run it, and I may jog a bit, but I’m not quite in running condition.
Still, you can support my efforts and support the Massey Cancer Center at this link.
Photo: Ryan Jacques via Unsplash