Thursday, February 23, 2017

TBT13: Letting Everyone In

I Decided to Tell Literally Everyone About My Testicular Cancer Diagnosis

Beyond seeing my students for the first time, my return to school was also the first time I had seen my coworkers since the surgery. I had asked Brian to tell the staff after my post-op appointment to derail any speculation ahead of my arrival.

Telling co workers and students' parents

Remind messages
I was unsure what to expect, to be honest. I had only been there for two months and had largely kept to myself. However, any doubt about whether or not I would be supported was unfounded, as I felt genuine care and compassion from each person who hugged me and said I was in their thoughts. Surprisingly, no one pushed it further when I said I was emotionally fine. Perhaps my chipper demeanor showed them that, really, I was fine. They offered to help, and I took them up on their offers to walk my kids to lunch and specials and to watch them at recess. Hello, extra planning.

Explaining to the parents of my students was difficult. I had written them a letter that would go home with the students that evening, but wanted to preempt it with a Remind message, a texting service I use to communicate with families. However, consolidating a 1682 character letter into a 140 character text is no easy feat. I decided to make a short link for the letter with a brief message explaining that I had cancer and had shared that with the students.

They, too, showed a huge outpouring of love and support. Every parent I heard from said to focus on me and my health and offered their help. It was simply amazing - they were putting the needs of a more or less stranger ahead of their child’s education.

The beginnings of my men's health and testicular cancer awareness journey

With everyone in my life taken care of when it came to knowing what was happening with my health, I wanted to keep going. In mid-November, 9 days after learning that I had testicular cancer, I decided that I would begin ABSOT. I talked about my decision to begin this awareness campaign in this post. The goal from the beginning has been to share my personal story and journey from discovery to being cured, and I am so thankful for the support I’ve received up to this point.

After pressing publish on “I Have Cancer: Telling My Students,” my Twitter notifications were on full alert for the next few days. The response from social media was amazing. Statistically, the two tweets where I shared the blog post were retweeted or liked over 100 times, commented on dozens of times, and shared countless more within the first three days. More importantly, I experienced so much support, positive interactions, and shared stories of how cancer had touched various people’s lives. Cancer truly does affect us all, and I’m thrilled to see honest conversations about its effects happening more and more.

On Thursdays, I am chronicling my journey from discovery to the beginning of chemotherapy. To read through my story up until this point, please click here

A self exam is how most cases of testicular cancer are detected early. Click the image for video directions or click here for a larger version

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