Many men often hide their emotions and vulnerability to cling to their masculinity and power at all costs. But suffering in silence can have dire implications for men’s health and makes treatment for cancer even more difficult, says Mzansi men’s cancer warriors and survivors.
But babes, listen, it is okay to crumble sometimes.
Especially when cancer shows no remorse or discrimination against its victim, says David Lucas (64), prostate cancer survivor and Cansa ambassador. “One of the misconceptions we have is that cancer only affects females,” he says.
Radio and television host Mark Pilgrim believes that strength is defined not by ignoring your vulnerability.
After 33 years, Pilgrim took to Twitter recently to announce that his cancer had returned. When you need to break, break but come out stronger than before, he wrote in an Instagram post. He says, “Strength is having the ability to allow the moment… and when it passes, you wipe away the tears and you stand up. You are nobody’s victim. You ARE a warrior. Put one foot forward every day. Believe.”
Living in the grip of fear
Fellow Cansa ambassador and prostate cancer survivor David Pasipanodya (73) agrees and says that if you still think cancer is “a women’s” illness, you would be sorely mistaken.
If you are also fighting for your life, here’s a small message. I hope it can give at least one person today the strength to stand up and be a warrior. pic.twitter.com/YAOUOEKAHb— Mark Pilgrim (@MarkPilgrimZA) April 25, 2022
Pasipanodya was first diagnosed with prostate cancer while living abroad in Sydney Australia in 2006. “I went for a routine health check with my wife and then they took blood tests and when those results came out, they told me that I had prostate cancer,” he tells Health For Mzansi. “I literally panicked, I told myself that this was the end of my life.”
He had two brothers who had died from cancer. “Fear was running my life.”
Pasipanodya adds that he had never known vulnerability like he did in those two years.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in South African men. An estimated one in 23 men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime.
A cancer diagnosis is one of the greatest challenges in a person’s life. From the shock of diagnosis to the horrors of treatment and the uncertainty. “Cancer has changed me in many ways. It has changed me from somebody who was afraid of challenges or problems to somebody who realised that problems are there to grow us, to help us because I thought I was going to die. But when I decided to look at my situation in a positive way it changed everything,” says Pasipanodya.
If you have been diagnosed, it is okay to crumble, Lucas reiterates. “We as men are taught that cowboys don’t cry. We as men are told to not stand up and show our weaknesses, we as men want to internalise our problems.”
From survivor to survivor
David’s tips for cancer fighters:
Keep asking questions: Ask your doctor all the relevant questions. “Ask your doctor how serious your cancer is? What stage is it?”
Get clued up: “Try to understand prostate cancer through literature in terms of how prostate cancer develops in a person. What I found very helpful was to look at books for people who had experienced cancer and overcame it. That really encouraged me to deal with the challenge.”
You are a warrior: Realise that “cancer is just a word like any other disease”.
Nutrition is everything: “After my diagnosis I changed my diet drastically. I stopped eating things like beef and sugar. One thing I learned to do was eat as much food as I could that would starve the cancer cells and stop them from growing.”