Friday, March 2, 2018

PCL25: My Definition of Surviving - One Year Later

March 2nd: Remission Day - the last of my “cancerversaries.”

It's been a year since I made the switch from patient to survivor. While I use survivor as a noun (mainly since it’s a lot easier to say that than “I had cancer last year but now I am in remission”), I never say "I survived cancer." The past tense is too final for me. Instead, l am surviving.

Surviving is...

Choosing to find the positive, even when you’re not feeling it.

A big tenet in how I approached life before cancer was to maintain a positive mindset. I even hosted weekly meetings at school to share out great moments from our week. When I was given a cancer diagnosis, I decided to do the same. Nurse Jenn even noted it in a card she gave me at the end of chemo, writing “You were handed a tough regimen but you were always positive and even when vomiting you were laughing and making a joke.”

Becoming a survivor was a new and equally trying experience. Some days, I was really down in the dumps about how overwhelmed I was feeling about balancing going back to work and also understanding what I had just faced.

A few months into remission, I remember actually thinking that having cancer was easier than facing life. Immediately, I was horrified by this thought and examined why that it had occurred to me. The answer was obvious - while I was feeling crappy, I got to lie around and watch movies all day and had no responsibility. I took that notion and turned it around. Lying around gets old after a few days. I now had the control and power to make my own choices and choose to do what I wanted. Finding my negative thoughts and turning them into positives is something that has helped me keep my spirits up as I continue through this journey.

Recognizing that the physical healing is far easier than the emotional
My physical healing was more or less complete by the six month mark post-chemo. Very few side effects lingered by then, and my only remaining one is my aversion to plain water. However, the emotional healing had just begun and continues to this day.

Cancer sucks, and recognizing that is a crucial part of the healing process. The outside can be repaired, but the inside takes more work in my opinion. It’s okay and normal. Keep working at it and know that you’ll make progress.

Making a commitment to fitness and healthy eating.

While physically healing is easier, getting back into shape takes work and effort. I was into fitness in college but dropped the ball once I became a real adult. On chemo, I gained ten pounds and a honeymoon in Hawaii only added to that. By August 2017, I was at my heaviest I’ve ever been - 215 pounds. At nearly six feet tall, this is teetering on overweight (and it was definitely not muscle mass that made up the weight). Similar to my approach to my mental health, I knew I had to take control of the situation and make changes. I started shifting to a healthier diet and increasing my activity level. By cooking more whole foods and working out for 30 minutes a few times a week, I’ve shed nearly 40 pounds since August.

Co-workers had commented that I’ve definitely lost weight and look good. My goal isn’t to just be physically where I was before cancer...I want to be better. I’m grabbing life by the ball(s) and making that happen.

Admitting that your mental health just isn't ok and you need help...

It’s equally critical to realize that asking for help about mental health is just as important. In December, I went on antidepressants to help combat feelings of depression. I was feeling down and needed help.

This was the first time I truly felt brave in my journey. I admitted to myself and others that I needed help and made it happen.

And following up when that help wasn't enough.

Even though I started on the medicine prescribed to me for my depression, initially, it didn’t help much. I had to advocate for myself and ask for a higher dose. The doctors agreed, and by late February, I felt tremendously better and continue to do so. Admitting that you need help is the first step - following up on that is equally important.

"All right, Lefty. Let's see how well connected you are..."
Proving that you have overcome chemo brain and don’t want to waste your brain power.
The loss of my mental capabilities due to chemo brain bothered me a lot, and I was determined to get them back. I eased my way into it, with reading shorter books and working my way up to longer ones. Last night, I finished 11/22/63, an 850-page Stephen King novel. I highly recommend the book to anyone who likes books about time travel, history, or the JFK assassination, but finishing the book represented more to me than just the bragging rights that come along with completing such a long book. This ridiculously thick book was given to me during chemo and it seemed like an impossible challenge then. Now, I’ve surpassed that seemingly-impossible challenge (in less than six days) and I’m ready to start on the next book.

Prior to cancer, most of my evenings were spent watching movies, playing video games, and endlessly scrolling through social media. Now, you can catch me reading, playing with Rubik’s Cubes (current record is just over one minute), and writing. I know what it’s like to truly veg out (not by choice), and I don’t want to waste that time anymore.

Setting goals, meeting them, and making new ones.

This ties in with the previous points about physical and mental healing. I constantly set fitness and reading goals and work to surpass them. At first, I wanted to run a mile in under ten minutes. When I met that, I wanted to do under nine minutes. Then, I added distance to my goal.

Similarly, I set book goals. I originally wanted to read 60 books in 2018, but now I’m aiming for 100. I’m currently at 23 and may need to up it again by the end of summer.

A cancer patient’s main goal is to beat cancer. Keeping that attitude after being given the all clear is important and makes sure you’re making the best of life.
Best text ever

Using your journey as a springboard for something more.

From the beginning, I’ve been sharing my story openly and honestly. I feel that it would be a wasted opportunity to not continue to use my journey as a talking point in a larger narrative about men’s health, and more recently, mental health. I know my journey has prompted other men to take their health more seriously, and that’s an amazing feeling.

If you’re facing cancer, share your story (if you’re comfortable) before, during, and after. It’s cathartic and will help others. If you need support, come check out the monthly App Chat on the Stupid Cancer app on the second Tuesday of the month at 8:00 PM EST. I hear the moderator is a pretty ballsy guy. (Spoiler - it’s me.)

Finding out who and what deserves your time.
I did an entire post on this over the summer (and a larger piece about friendships on The Mighty in the fall), but it’s among the most important lessons I learned as a survivor. Not everyone and everything is deserving of your time.

I spend way more time with the people (and pets) around me than I did before. On my educational blog in December, I shared about how writing about education just wasn’t something I was passionate about anymore, so I shifted it to the back burner (and then proceeded to write a post like a month later - way to go, Mr. B).

You need to figure out what matters to you and focus in on that. It may sound selfish, but I don’t think it is. Ultimately, your life is for you to enjoy to the fullest extent possible.

Knowing that you can genuinely say that you have a second shot at life.

At the end of the day, never forget that you stared death in the face, which is a super uplifting way to end a blog post! Most of the world doesn’t have that experience, but you know what it’s truly like to claw your way back from the other side.

You have a second shot at life - don’t waste it. These are my thoughts on the matter and what it means to truly be surviving. I’ve made some dramatic shifts in my life in the past year and have no intention of looking back.

So in a way, cancer, while you did take Lefty from me, you did do some good in my life. However, I’m still here a year later and you’re not. I guess we know who truly had the will to survive.

Author’s Note: I wasn’t originally planning to even write a blog post today. When I began drafting an Instagram post, I realized that I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this milestone. 1,500 words later, I realized I had more to say than an Insta-caption could cover.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

PCL24: Progress with Prozac

Around the five month mark post chemo, I realized something was not quite right. It wasn’t my new fascination with discussing balls at every opportunity; it was more than that - my mood was not what it should have been. At first, I thought it was just the stress of returning to work and transitioning back to being a normal person instead of a cancer patient.

Upon closer inspection, I realized I was still feeling down, but it was summer, so the job reason didn’t make sense. If you’re not at regular reader of ABSOT, I am a teacher, and teachers don’t work in the summer - that’s the main reason we chose this, duh. (If you’re my principal and you’re reading this, please understand that this is a joke.)

"We Don't Make Excuses... We Make Changes"
My classroom and personal mantra
(Also, a rare smile selfie)
However, a new school year began, and I noticed that I was feeling off and just not as enthusiastic as I once was about teaching. It wasn’t that I hated my job; it was that something internally wasn’t quite right, and it was having an impact on my ability to teach to the best of my abilities. My students were still learning, growing, and seemingly enjoying themselves, so they didn’t appear to notice my internal struggle. Nor did my administrators, who are awesome and amazingly supportive of me, or my co-workers, who are also pretty great and put up with endless ball puns during team meetings. Regrettably, we don’t teach about spheres during the geometry unit.

In addition to feeling slightly off at work, I also realized I was feeling irritable and was much quicker to get angry at home. In October, I experienced a full on panic attack while watching an episode of Stranger Things on Netflix on the eve of my orchiectomyversary. Overall, hobbies like reading and cooking didn’t bring me as much pleasure as they once did, and I just felt generally pretty flat.

As I’ve alluded to numerous times through my writing on ABSOT, I battled with depression in high school. However, since my only job at that point in my life was to be a student (and school had never been a struggle for me, since I was in the gifted program), it didn’t have an impact on my “job.” It dawned on me that I was now feeling some of the same effects I did back them.

Knowing that having depression at a young age puts me at risk for a recurrence later in life, I decided to look into research about cancer survivors and PTSD/depression to fully understand just how stacked the cards were against me. It didn’t bode well when I first typed “cancer survivors and…” into Google, and “PTSD” and “depression” popped up as the first two suggested results (followed by “alcohol”).

As I researched more, I found this study from 2017 that said about 20% of cancer survivors experience PTSD symptoms within six months of diagnosis. The CDC also reports that cancer survivors take anxiety and depression medication at almost twice the rate of the general population.

After finding this information, I decided to ask for help, specifically in the form of antidepressants at my follow up visit in December. Dr. Maurer agreed to prescribe them, and I thought it would be all pretty rainbows and fluffy unicorns immediately.

However, about four weeks later, I felt no different. I knew antidepressants could take up to six weeks to show major changes, but I wasn’t feeling even slightly better. Perhaps I even felt worse, as I had these “happy pills” and I still felt down. Maybe something was just wrong with me - beyond the missing testicle.

I’ve learned to be open with my health and feelings, so at my med check up with NP Sullivan, I basically said, “Hey, I don’t think these are working.” Since I am obviously super medically qualified (read as: not qualified at all), I supported my theorem by saying I was on the same dosage I was in high school, and High School Justin was about fifty pounds lighter and ten years younger (and had a terrible taste in hairstyles and girls, but that’s a different story for another day).

NP Sullivan actually agreed with me and decided to increase my dosage. I wish I could say that this was the end of my frustration, but it wasn’t.

However, this new struggle wasn’t internal - it was externally driven towards insurance companies and American healthcare in general. If you’re an international reader (and I know you’re out there, since according to Blogger’s data I have readers on every continent, except Antarctica, which is a shame since it’s cold as ball(s) there), appreciate it if you have a better healthcare system.

The pills are blue and orange, so that's also pretty cool.
PS - Highly recommend Artemis. Halfway through and
it's fantastic.
When Dr. Maurer first prescribed the pills in December, my prescription was denied, since the pharmacy needed to get “pre-authorization” because apparently, a doctor’s orders aren’t enough. This wouldn’t have been a huge deal, but I was going out of town for a week and wanted to start the pills immediately. Out of desperation, I ended up paying out of pocket for that first fill. About two weeks after starting the pills, the pre-authorization came through, just in time for my dosage increase.

And just in time for another claim denial. Apparently, my original pre-auth covered me only for the original dose. The fact that insurance claims can be denied through an automated system by non-medical professionals is ridiculous to me. Insurance companies, do better.

Long story short, the insurance claim handlers at Dr. Maurer’s office are awesome, and I got pre-authorized for the new dose. (Maybe my mini-rant on Instagram story helped too!) This new pre-auth lasts for a year, and hopefully, I won’t need any more increases.

To be honest, I don’t think I will need it. I’m not really sure when I noticed that I was feeling better, but when I wrote my “12 Months Later” post in late-January, things were definitely looking up. I was getting more into the swing of lesson planning and teaching, minor things didn’t bother me as much, and I didn’t find myself complaining as often. I wish I could say that colors were suddenly more vivid, but I’m colorblind and colors don’t ever look bright.

It’s now the end of February, and I feel so much better than I did in September. (Side note - I really feel like Christopher Nolan with the amount of time jumps in this post. My bad.) While I would never say I hated work, I definitely have a better attitude when I walk through the doors of Room 31. Exercise, writing, reading, and cooking have become more enjoyable again. I've even developed a new hobby - Speed solving of Rubik's Cubes. I know, I am super cool and not nerdy at all.

While writing this post, I realized that this one has a better feel and tone, as compared to some of the posts I wrote between September to January, even though it’s about depression, I feel more like myself on a day-to-day basis. I haven’t resumed any sort of formal therapy program, but I know that is definitely recommended while on these pills. It’s on my to-do list to look into in the future.

My biggest takeaway from this all is to ask for help if you feel you need it. There seems to be such a stigma around mental health and this post is an effort to be open and transparent to help dispel it. Sometimes, mental health isn’t even viewed as a necessary thing to take care of or treat as a serious matter. We treat our bodies and help them to heal when we are sick or injured; why should our mental health and brains be different?

This mini rant on insurance doesn't even begin to
discuss how much everything costs
(A $600 balance from a CT scan I received)
The debacle with the insurance company and preauthorization helps to underscore this issue. When I had “probable strep” in January, although the test came back negative, the company had no problem approving amoxicillin, even though it probably wasn’t necessary. Any other prescription for my myriad of side effects during chemo was filled without an issue. But needing antidepressants? I had to jump through hoops to get those.

I recently saw a Tweet that said, “Depressed people don’t need Prozac. They need running shoes and fresh air.”

That’s a damaging narrative. I tried that, and continue to exercise, but it wasn’t that simple for me. If that’s your opinion, fine. Go run or whatever else works for you. But don’t shame other people for trying what might work for them. Just as I’m not going to fault you for trying homeopathic medicine, don’t go throwing crystals at me for what I’ve chosen. Positive thinking just isn’t enough sometimes.

I hope that this dosage continues to keep my mood elevated and on the upswing. I have no idea how long I’ll need to be on the antidepressants, but I’m not worried about it. What matters to me is that my emotional healing is beginning to catch up to my physical healing, the disparity between the two being something that has been nagging at me since I was cleared for remission.

However, this is something that I should have seen coming. They removed half of my “lower brain” and left my upper brain fully intact… no wonder it’s taking twice as long to heal!

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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

PCL23: Twelve Months Later

Although it seems like ages ago, today marks twelve months (also known as one year) since I rang the bell and completed my chemotherapy. This time last year, I was apprehensive - had the chemo worked? Would I be cancer free now? When would the side effects end? Would my long, luscious locks grow back?

Spoiler alert: to answer all of those questions, yes, yes, in a few months, and yes.

I wrote “progress updates” at two months and five months (meant to be six, but I counted wrong) post-chemo. When preparing for today’s update, I reread those posts. I was struck how different in tone they were. While I was still experiencing a number of physical side effects two months after chemo, I was seemingly okay mentally. The inverse was true for the five month update - very few physical side effects but a lot of emotional turmoil.

My selfie game remains strong
Today, I am revisiting those “progress updates” for a twelve months later post. Physically, I’m 99.999% back to normal. I have not had any feelings of nausea since the perfect storm of the all-you-can-eat pizza buffet and imbibing on the night of my the bachelor party, but that’s not related to chemo in any way. My hair has completely grown back (but I’m contemplating a new style now). My fitness levels are through the roof - I recently ran a mile in less than seven minutes and thirty seconds, my bench press max is higher than it was in college, and I’ve lost over thirty pounds (the ten pounds I gained on chemo, the five on the honeymoon, and then some), making me the lightest since moving to Virginia in 2013. I know these sound like a lot of humblebrags (isn’t that the whole point of social media?), but it’s also a way to show my physical progress.

The only real remnant of a physical side effect (accounting for that 0.001%) is my continued disdain for plain water. This first stemmed from the metallic taste in my mouth during chemo and continued through recovery. I honestly have no idea if that’s even related to a lingering side effect, but I only take my water infused with lemon or cucumber… and shaken, not stirred.

On the mental and emotional side of things, I’m somewhere in between the two and five month updates. One of my biggest frustrations during chemo and beyond was my inability to read a book. I ended up completing 55 books in 2017, 3 fewer than 2016. Honestly, I was disappointed in myself that I didn’t match or surpass the previous year, but I also had to take into consideration that I only read for ten and a half months in 2017 versus nearly all year in 2016.

Now, I can read books with ease, finishing over ten books since the start of 2018 (with a goal of 60 total this year). It seems like a random achievement to strive for, but it’s an important one to me to prove to myself that my brain is fully functioning again.

Overall, chemo brain seems to have less power over me, as I have significantly less difficulty with memory and word retrieval now. At times, I do have some issues remembering what I was trying to do a few minutes prior. Usually, I just retrace my steps (sometimes literally), and that triggers my intention. Google Keep (I find it weirdly awesome to check things off my to-do list) and Alexa still keep me straight on a regular basis.

Upping from 10 mg to 20 mg in early Jan
Emotionally, I’m doing better than I was doing at five months (that was quite a dark place in hindsight), but I’m not quite to the level of the positive and chipper attitude I had two months after chemo. As I’ve shared, I started on antidepressants after my last CT scan, and I’ve been on them for about a month now. They say it takes about six weeks for them to fully take effect.

My doctor recently upped my dose to 30 milligrams a day instead of 20, since I was not feeling any different after four weeks. Since beginning the increased dose, I am noticing that my overall mood is improving. I am hoping that this is due to finding the right pill and not just a placebo effect. As time goes on, I will share another post focusing more on my experiences with these pills.

Overall, I’d say that twelve months later, I feel physically great, and my emotions are on the upswing for now. I’m sure the physical side of things will maintain its strength (pun fully intended), while the emotional side will be up and down as I travel through life. I wrote a post in October, to commemorate the one year anniversary of my orchiectomy, about how my goals, perspective, and focus have changed since beginning this journey, and it still holds true. I’m looking forward to next January’s edition of this post and seeing where life has taken me by then.

And for the record… my left testicle STILL has not grown back.

But I still have hope, even if that “definitely won’t happen naturally and we’ve asked you repeatedly to please stop calling us, Mr. Birckbichler.”

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

HBA17: How to Support a Caregiver

A cancer diagnosis doesn’t simply affect the patient - it affects many in their lives. Since the beginning of ABSOT, I gave voices to my loved ones in the Healthy, But Affected series. My mother and wife (then-fiancee), Mallory, were my two primary caregivers during treatment. Without them, I couldn’t have done it. Being a caregiver isn’t easy, so here they share some of the things that helped them get through the experience.

Support them at their workplace as they take on a second job as a caregiver.

Mom: “During Justin’s treatments, my job was very good to me – never made me feel guilty about going to Virginia for weeks at a time. We had a sub who did a great job and my boss never made me feel bad about missing so much work. The parents of the preschoolers really made me feel good when they would ask about Justin. They all understood why I needed to be away from the preschool and no one ever made me feel bad for not being there.”

Mallory: “My school administrators were very supportive. It was never a problem for me to leave early to take Justin to appointments, and they actively wanted to be kept in the loop with Justin’s status. If my grade level team noticed I was having a bad day, they would offer to take on some of my extra responsibilities, like recess duty, so I could take a moment to myself to breathe.”

Take things off their plate.

A bald rose between two thorns
Mallory: “Both Justin’s and my school organized for meals to be delivered, which was a blessing since Justin is the primary cook around our house, and he didn’t always have the stamina to cook. Neighbors chipped in to help with mowing the lawn, shoveling the driveway, and getting groceries for us, so I could focus on helping Justin. Justin’s mom would also help take care of him while I took care of the house, or vice versa, and it was extremely helpful to have two people managing the situation.”

Mom: “A group of friends organized who would bring food each week to my family in PA. It took a burden off any one person (or my family), and I think it helped people feel like they were doing something to help when there was little else they could do. I appreciated that the house was in good shape when I would come home for a week or a weekend - my family that I left behind at home really stepped up their game and took on the tasks that I generally do.”

Ask about their feelings, too.

While my mom said that people would ask her how I was feeling and Mallory said mostly close friends and family members would ask how she was doing, my little sister, Courtney, had a different perspective.

“When Justin was diagnosed, I started to tell people. After sharing, people began to ask me, ‘How’s Justin?’ or ‘How’s your brother doing?’ While it was very nice to ask how he was doing since he was the one doing the real work and the real fight, rarely was I ever asked how I was doing.

Honestly, I was not okay. I was 16 years old, and my older brother, who is only 25, had cancer. How in any way would I be okay!?

I was up in Pennsylvania over 3 hours away from him, and I didn’t always know what was going on. To make it even harder, since our mom was down in Virginia as his caregiver, I couldn’t even talk to her about it.

A cancer experience is primarily focused on the patient, and, in my experience, it seems that not as much thought is given to the family member of the cancer patient, especially if they’re not an immediate caregiver. Everyone is nice enough to ask how the cancer patient is doing, but if I counted how many times I was asked how I was doing, I could use one hand. This time was really hard for me, and no one seemed to care to ask about me. While Justin was the one going through it all, he has always been my best buddy and I was being affected by it in a different way.”

Small gifts go a long way.

: “Some of my friends put together a gift basket for me filled with things to do while sitting for hours at chemo or for my long drives to Virginia. Things like books, movies, books on CD, nail polish, lotions, bath bombs, coloring books, colored pencils and snacks. I loved coloring adult coloring books at chemo as it passed the time very quickly. Someone let me borrow their entire DVD collection of Downton Abbey, and that helped fill the time. Another friend gave me a gift certificate for two massages, which really helped me relieve stress.

While the massages helped provide physical relief, one of the most symbolic and special things I received during Justin’s treatment was an anchor charm for my Pandora charm bracelet from his dad. He said I am the anchor of this family. That meant a lot to me because I felt so torn in so many directions – I knew I wanted to be able to help Justin, but I also knew I was leaving the rest of the family behind to do the things I normally do for them. I had guilt when I was away from them and guilt when I was away from Justin. By Dad giving me the anchor, it made me realize that I was the anchor of the family and was needed everywhere, but I was doing ok by helping everywhere.”

Mallory: “I got a bracelet from Justin’s aunt that said, ‘Courage and strength,’ which helped me find a symbol of strength. Some co-workers got gifts for us to help give us something to do when Justin was having a good day, like a movie night basket. I also enjoyed coloring books, as they helped me to relieve anxiety in a calming way.”

Accept that cancer sucks, and it’s ok to say that to them...

Mom: “One of my good friends once told her after she had a stillborn that she needed to hear people say “this sucks,” rather than always hearing positive comments. Don’t get me wrong, positive comments are good too, but every now and then, it is ok to be down, and it is ok to hear that ‘this sucks’ because it really does. I have tried to remember that ever since she told me that she needed to hear that sometimes. So tell the patient that it is ok to have down days, and realize yourself that you can’t be positive all the time. But also my dad’s voice is always in my ear saying “just tell me what I have to do to take care of this and I will do it,” so I know I often said that during the course of Justin’s treatment.”

Mallory: “One of Justin’s former co-workers sent me a card that basically said that and it was nice to see that it’s ok to be angry about cancer. A colleague at my school even offered her classroom (which is secluded from the rest of the school) as a place I could come and scream to let out frustration. I never took her up on that offer, but it was nice to know the chance was there. People understood and embraced my feelings and never made me feel bad for saying when things weren’t great.”

...but remember to encourage them to find silver linings where they can.

Mom: “In a weird way it was a blessing because I feel like Justin and I got closer during that time and I also got to know my daughter-in-law much more than most mothers-in-law ever get to know their son’s wife. And she still even seems to like me after spending all those months together!”

Mallory: “I really got to know my mother-in-law better and now we have a deeper connection on a level that not many people do. [Author’s Note - I can attest to this, as they have a constant group text that I am needlessly included in]. Another silver lining was that I was able to find enough strength to pull myself together and let go of my worries and fears during the treatment process.”

While many of my posts are from my perspective as a patient or survivor, it’s equally as important to recognize the efforts and struggles the caregivers face. I’d like to thank Mom, Mallory, and Courtney for sharing their thoughts here, and I hope their words help you support a caregiver you know.

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Sunday, January 7, 2018

HBA16: Courtney's Speech

Recently, my little sister (who isn’t so little anymore, but I refuse to accept that) gave a presentation to her class about testicular cancer. I’ll let her explain it more in her words below, but since she did such a good job with her original HBA, I asked her to write a piece about her speech. 

I had an assignment to give an informative speech for senior English, and one of the requirements was to pick a topic that you felt that you were an expert on. This requirement made my decision hard because I don’t feel that I am an expert on any one topic in particular.

When she's not talking about balls,
she's hitting field hockey ones
as a member of the All Division team 

and captain of her high school
I decided to do my speech on testicular cancer and men’s health because of Justin. Since I look up to him and his efforts to spread men’s health awareness, I thought, “Why shouldn’t I help?” Even if it is only to twenty people in my class, it’s twenty more people that now have the knowledge they didn’t have before.

My four minute speech, which included important facts and statistics about men’s health, testicular cancer, and why no one should be afraid to talk about it, went off without a hitch, earning me a 98%. Following the speech, I handed out self check cards to all the boys in my class.

When I look back on this experience, I think, “Wow, I am proud of myself for discussing men’s health in front of my class.” This thought is followed with, “Wow, that was really weird to talk about men’s health and testicles in front of my class!” Being a girl made it somewhat uncomfortable to talk about this subject, but the more I spoke about it, the more comfortable I became. By the end of the speech, I realized I was no longer afraid to talk about men’s health with my classmates.

Now, I don’t think I will be nearly as afraid or uncomfortable to talk about men’s health and testicular cancer. Being a female should not make you afraid to talk about men’s health, as it could save a life. Going forward, if I have to do another assignment where I can choose the topic, I think I will choose to report on testicular cancer or men’s health again. Even if it is not an assignment, I would be open to talking about this topic again.

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