In junior high, I was pantsed at the Red Willow county fair – on a “date” nonetheless. Given the fact I was 14, I thought my dating life was over.
It felt a lot like how I’m feeling right now – anxious and exposed.
So instead of letting someone else pants me, I’m just going to do it myself.
I have cancer. I’m not going to hide it. It’s tough. I’ve had testicular cancer since July of last year. It’s been really hard, but it’s survivable.
I told a few people immediately, but I still haven’t told many who are very important to me. Why?
Because talking about it makes it real. You know how sometimes you ignore the thing you need to do, hoping it will magically disappear? Same.
Because I don’t want your pity. I pride myself on hard work, earning things fair and square, and doing things the right way. I don’t want special treatment.
Because I don’t want every conversation we have to be about my disease. I like debating politics, talking about baseball, and catching up on the latest Bachelorette gossip. I didn’t want every conversation to “cancer this, cancer that.”
Because hard conversations are just that, hard. I cry like a baby when I talk to my mom about this stuff. Life is hard sometimes. I really wanted to appear strong throughout all of this. The more hard conversations I have, the higher the chance of me looking like a big baby in public.
Because I want my work to stand for itself. I guess I already talked about this a bit, but I really want to drive home the fact that I don’t feel like I deserve any preferential treatment.
Because I thought I could beat it. I thought I’d look back at this time frame five years from now and go, “man, I beat this thing”. In that case, was it worth creating a lot of fear and drama for those I care about?
So, why tell you now?
It turns out cancer isn’t something you beat, it’s something you learn to live with.
My recent blood work shows my tumor markers are back up in the “we need to check this out” range. This week I’ll be doing more blood-work, CT and MRI scans, and nervously Googling all the scientific studies I can find on testicular cancer.
I believe in honesty, openness, and transparency. After a year of skipping out early for doctor’s appointments, being vague with my team, and wincing every time I hear the word “cancer”, I’ve decided it’s time to let people in.
So, please reach out to me and let’s talk about this whole “cancer” thing. Let’s chat about it a few times until you’re out of questions and a little less scared. If you scroll to the bottom of this page, you can find my social media accounts. This website even has a contact page.
But then comes the important part — getting back to normal. Talk to me about baseball, random tech topics, news, your favorite podcast, or how shitty your day at work was.
Yes, I have a pretty serious disease and lost one testicle, but I’m not going to lose my sense of humor, relationships, or love that I have for all the amazing people in my life.
P.S. - A little advice about not getting pantsed: belts are your friends.
7/20/20 Update: Wow, I can’t believe it’s been a year since I wrote this article.
Two quick notes:
One, I’m doing great – no need to worry about my health 🙂
Two, I wish I would have told people sooner. Going through hard things is a lot easier with the support of the people you love and care about.