Depression and cancer are similar in many ways: both make you feel like s**t, can last for extended periods of time, and affect loved ones as well as yourself. The difference between them for me is that one made me want to die while the other made me fight for my life.
by Justin Birckbichler
I was diagnosed with Stage IIB Nonseminoma Testicular cancer in November 2016, at the ripe old age of 25. Along with surgery and chemo, I encountered the burden of the emotional journey that a cancer diagnosis includes.
Much to my wife’s chagrin, I’ve never been one to talk about my emotions. Blame it on society, my own stubbornness, or whatever other factor you want to point fingers at, but when it comes to my feelings, you’re not going to get much from me beyond “I’m fine.”
Together with Sharon Bray – teacher and author of two books on writing and health – CKN welcomes you to our new Writing Series where Sharon helps readers tap into the healing power of writing during difficult times. As Sharon puts it, “Your stories matter. You are your stories. Our stories shape us and act as the lens through which we see the world. It’s through story that we make sense of our lives, reclaim our voices, and learn our words can touch others’ hearts.” Follow along with this bi-monthly series with Sharon and please send us your stories….they matter to us.
The MATCH Study: Mindfulness And Tai chi for Cancer Health. This innovative clinical trial conducted by the University of Calgary/Tom Baker Cancer Centre and the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is now recruiting cancer survivors! As a participant you get to choose which treatment approach you want, or let us assign you to a group if you are equally interested in both. We will measure program effects on psychological, physical and biological outcomes including quality of life, mood, stress, balance, blood pressure, heart rate, immune function and more! Visit www.thematchstudy.ca for more details.
by Maryam Qureshi
Together with Young Adult Cancer Advocate Extraordinaire, Pat Taylor, we wanted to publish a new series this November to help raise awareness about Testicular Cancer. Our goal was to educate testicular cancer patients, survivors and caregivers about the post-treatment quality of life issues that may arise, of which many men might not be aware. If there is a stigma around this issue, we want to open it up and shed some light on it!!
We thank all the writers who took the time to write about their personal stories for the greater good – not an easy task!!
Please send us your comments and we’ll be sure to pass them along to the writers.
Table of Contents:
An Interview with Scott Slater by Pat Taylor
Oh Testicular Cancer, How I Hate Thee by Dan Duffy
An Interview with Connor O’Leary by Pat Taylor
Where’s the Light? by Nick O’Hara Smith
The Perfect Storm by Mike Craycraft
A Caregiver’s Perspective by Jenna Jackson
A Ballsy Sense of Tumor by Justin Birckbichler
Connor O’Leary was a nineteen year old professional cyclist competing in Europe when he discovered a lump on his testicle. As an advocate for AYA cancer awareness since my own daughter was diagnosed with cancer in 1997, I was stunned at how little I knew about testicular cancer and the men living with it. I needed to learn more. I needed to go to the source. My editor, Karen Irwin at CKN agreed and the idea for the TC Cancer Series was born.
Connor was one of the men I invited to join me for breakfast in Denver, Colorado while we were attending Stupid Cancer’s CancerCon 2017 Conference, to discuss the short and long term effects of living with a testicular cancer diagnosis. When Connor told me, “Nineteen year olds don’t want to talk about their parts to their mothers,” I knew that Connor would offer an important perspective to the series. What follows is my interview with Connor, testicular cancer survivor and Chief Mission Officer for the Testicular Cancer Foundation.