On episode 16 of Sisters Without Shame, a friend looks forward to the day he can call himself a testicular cancer survivor.
Survivorship begins from the moment of diagnosis, says radio and TV personality Mark Pilgrim. It continues from diagnosis, to treatment and through the survivor’s life.
Pilgrim advises men to realise that they do not always need to be the toughest in the room when faced with the disease. “Not every day is a strong day,” he says.
Living life to the fullest
Pilgrim was diagnosed with testicular cancer in his late teens. To him, his survival is a second chance.
“Whenever you have a life-threatening illness, it makes you realise the fragility of life and makes you ask yourself a lot of questions. From this journey I came out with the mantra: do the most that you can and do what you need to do.”
His journey pushed him towards his dream of being on radio. “I was going to become a chartered accountant, but I realised that it wasn’t what I wanted to do,” says Pilgrim. “I was given a second chance at life and I had to make the most of it.”
That was when he realised that the media industry is where his “heart is mostly at peace”.
The scary treatment
Cancer is debilitating, but so is chemotherapy treatment. You might be nauseated and sore, but the most common chemo side effect is unrelenting fatigue.
“For cancer patients the dreading thing is not the cancer itself, but chemotherapy – it makes you sick. There had been many advances in chemotherapy in the 30 years since I’ve had it. It really makes you sick and it is really hard.”
What families can do
Medical expertise is a key part of your cancer treatment. But it won’t be enough. To get through this, you’ll also need to build a cancer support team at home with your family and friends. Support is crucial to your survival, Pilgrim says.
“You find that most family members become devastated immediately after finding out. Well, it’s not about you, it’s about lending support to the person with the sickness.
“The person diagnosed with testicular cancer will definitely be devastated after hearing their diagnosis. And hearing that their whole family is devastated would give a whole lot of pressure to him, and that is not necessary and healthy for their recovery too.”
“Don’t sit back and cry to my face, come to me and lend me your support in the form of a hug or assistance in my daily routines,” he recommends.
How to listen to the full interview on Sisters Without Shame
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