Men’s Health Month: Putting Mental and Physical Health First
Fear is something that everyone has come across in their lives. It is something we will continue to face until the end of time; It's how we deal with the fear that shapes what the next steps are. Men's health has been able to see a lot of progress in the last few years but there is still an underlying stigma attached to it. This stigma is taking time away from many men's lives and leaving them with less time for things they should be doing. Fear and this stigma go hand in hand and I hope after hearing about my journey in the last year or so; Maybe that stigma for you lessens and you can do what you need to.
It was the end of August in 2020 when things truly got started on my journey. I had been off; I wasn't my normal self and it was my then fiance who brought it up to me. Many things made her concerned and when these things continued to pile up she did the one thing she knew she should: She talked to me about it and suggested I talk to my Doctor. Now looking back at the situation it makes total sense to talk to my Doctor; That's what they get paid to do! At the time though, there was unease. It was embarrassing for me to identify these things that were going on and then to put myself out there for someone else to know. Would there be judgment? Would they go into their weekly Doctor meetings and talk about this guy who had all these issues and laugh? This silly and let's be totally honest, ridiculous thoughts came rushing into my head.
Thankfully I already had a Doctor's appointment set up as part of my life with Type 1 Diabetes because I'll be honest, at the time, I'm not sure I would have called to set up another one based solely around talking about these things. With Covid in full swing, the appointment was done over the phone. I can remember driving in the car with my Fiance by my side. I talked with the Doctor about my blood sugar, how my diet was going and how she was really pleased with how things were looking. Then it happened; "Is there anything else I can help you with today Brendan?" The question I had been dreading from the moment I took the call. It was at this point a few things ran through my head: I could say No and just end the call with a few pleasantries and then have my Fiance extremely disappointed in me. What's more I would continue on not knowing why I was feeling off. I could talk about some of the issues but fudge a few facts so I didn't feel so embarrassed; That way I could have a little bit of help to figure out the issue and right the ship. Finally, I could just rip the bandaid off and put it all out there. I ripped that bandaid off, Was it awkward? Of it definitely was, but it also set in motion the change needed.
My doctor listened to what was happening, Asked a few questions, and then suggested getting a blood test. It was in that blood test and a couple more that followed that it was able to be diagnosed that I in fact had testicular cancer. I was put in touch with a top Oncologist and surgery was done. Since that time I've had numerous blood tests, I've had CT scans and appointments keeping me informed on how everything has gone. Thanks to that awkward phone call I was able to catch cancer early. Thanks to that phone call they were able to remove it and put me in a much better spot. Am I out of the woods completely? No, I will now always have to monitor things and keep an eye on whether cancer will return or not. The thing is, because of that one uneasy interaction; I was able to come out of it in such a better spot.
Add onto all of these things happening; The goal of starting a family down the line. My fiance and I were put in touch with a fertility clinic who gave us the rundown on what likely would be the situation after having testicular cancer and having surgery to remove it. They really gave us a clear understanding and while we were fortunate and were surprised with the fantastic news she was, in fact, pregnant two months after my surgery; It was a huge weight off our shoulders to know we did in fact have the support we needed. This once again came because questions were asked.
So I know you're potentially reading this and some questions are coming to mind. Questions from friends, family, and others have become commonplace so here is a speed round of things most people want to know:
- Post-surgery I don't even really notice I had one less testicle. I know before thoughts were running through my head that it'll be obvious and I'll be scarred and disfigured for the rest of my life. Not in the slightest, It has had no negative effect on my life in the slightest.
- How did we get pregnant so quickly after surgery? Honestly, I have no idea. I wish I could say this is what you have to do and you are set but I can't. I think the fact we knew we had the support from the fertility clinic took a huge weight off our shoulders and just allowed us to relax and worry about what we needed to.
I can't say this enough, Rip that bandaid off, Have the conversation no one truly wants to have. Put yourself out there because, in the end, there is no judgment. No one will make fun of you for talking about something that feels off. In most cases, they will applaud you for it. Putting yourself in the best shape, care, or mindset possible is something we all hope for, and fear of any kind shouldn't be what dictates how we live any second of it. Speak up and end the stigma. You won't regret it.
About the Author
Brendan Seeley has been part of Country Radio in Canada since 2011 when he began his career in small-town High Level, Alberta. Since that time he has grown his knowledge and brand within the industry and made a name for himself for the interview skills he brought to each artist, he was able to chat with. In 2020; Brendan was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer and while it was caught early and he has been able to recover quite quickly, He has spent his time bringing attention to the struggles and stigma that comes into play when men's health is concerned