We forget we’re mere mortals more often than not. We think “it can’t happen to us” while watching people around us get old, sick, and eventually die. But it can happen to us. It does happen.
Men are taught from an early age by society that once you’re no longer a young boy, you just need to toughen up and hide your hurts. We’re not supposed to complain about our various hurts, be they emotional mental, or physical. We put off getting screened for diseases like cancer. While women are encouraged to go and get checked for breast cancer regularly (I personally laughed when I first saw the “save the ta-tas” campaign but it turned out to be very effective), men are… not really told. I’ve asked a few of my friends what age they should start going to see a doctor about prostate cancer and none of them really knew. One said 30, one said 65, another just shrugged and suggested “when it gets hard to hold your pee.”
This is all on my mind this morning as I read about Chadwick Boseman, the actor who played Jackie Robinson in “42” and T’Challa in the MCU. He passed away yesterday at the age of 43 from colon cancer. He’d been battle it since 2016 and was diagnosed, at 39, with Stage III. Stage IV, in case you were wondering, is usually the “well, let’s make him comfortable” stage.
I had my first colonoscopy at 26 because I actually spoke to my doctor about my intestinal issues. While they were scoping things out (pun totally intended by the way) they discovered polyps which they removed. These polyps, in case you were wondering, had a decent chance of turning cancerous later, the doctor told me. I’m glad I went.
Last week, while I was in the ER for the kidney stone from hell, they found a spot on my liver using contrast dyes. I’m in a “wait and see” mode right now for the next six months as we find out if it’s growing or not. If it is, well, then I get to poison my body in hopes that my body is tougher than the cancer. That’s my understanding of chemotherapy at least.
Don’t be ashamed of going to get checked out. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor questions, or raise concerns. We have the best medical technology in the history of mankind (up to this point, who knows what next year will bring) and it’s absolutely stupid and ignorant to hide your aches or worrisome issues because of machismo. Other men will not look down on your. If they do, send ’em my way. I’ll educate them for you while you do the self-care thing.
Believe it or not, it’s manly to seek help from others.