This brave young person shares their battle with cancer and discovers the importance of letting himself cry.
At first my head screamed 'be a man' and then I told it, 'shut up, sometimes, men cry too'.
I went to an all boys' school, played Union, did debating and was pretty popular. I have three brothers, and a tight group of mates I've known since Kindy. I'd just moved out of home to a flat by the beach with my two best mates, and started engineering at Uni. Life was about hanging out with the boys. When one of us passed an exam, we celebrated with a few beers, spent the night watching a game, and followed up with a surf the next morning.
Everything changed when I started to get really sick all the time, and after a whole stack of medical tests I found out I had cancer. It was the shittest day of my life. When the guys found out, no one knew what to say. They turned up with beer and a curry and we sat around in silence. My head was about to explode. I wanted to be alone and I didn't want to be alone. After a while it got too much for them and one by one they made excuses and left. I wanted to break down and smash stuff and run as far away as I could. But my head kept screaming "be a man, be a MAN". When I started treatment I still hadn't reacted, I just kept pushing it away, pretending it was nothing serious. My mates stopped dropping by because none of them knew how to react, and they found it weird to see me lying in a hospital bed all skinny and bald and weak.
Men cry too
After the first lot of chemo I got to go home. When I stepped through the door everything smelled so familiar. Everyone was there waiting for me, and I was surrounded by things and people that felt safe and like home. I was overwhelmed and suddenly I felt tears in my eyes. My head screamed "be a man" so I excused myself and said I needed a shower.
I got in the shower and let it all come flooding out. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed till I could hardly breathe. Six months of emotion came pouring out. At first my head screamed "be a man" and then I told it, "shut up, sometimes, men cry too". That day was the day I started to cope with having cancer. Up until that point I was hiding from it.
Crying is weird, it doesn't make you weak, it kind of flushes out your head and makes your stronger so you can deal with stuff. It's strange too, now that I am coping with stuff better my mates are more relaxed about hanging out.