I am sharing some personal heartfelt reflections with you today.
Perhaps they cause a tear to swell in your eye, perhaps they create discomfort or trigger introspection, or perhaps none of that. Any or all of that is okay…
'“It will be months. A shorter number of months rather than a longer number.”
The remaining contents of the conversation held in that room elude me.
When I think back to that day when the doctor gave his prognosis, I see a number of strange pictures as they flicked across the computer screen. One in particular that I didn’t understand when I first saw, but after some explanation by the doctor could see a cross-section of Dad’s torso, with a lighter fluffy looking mass clinging onto the tissues around his spine.
It was then things started to feel real.
The cancer was no longer in his liver alone. Those “spots” in his neck that at last check were “shrinking” were more than likely not. And the concern about his lungs was now more apparent. After seeing an actual scan of a tumour surrounding his spine, my fears about losing Dad had never been more real. It wasn’t a silver lined cloud like Dad normally painted for us when conveying bad news.
This was a plain as day picture of what was going to kill Dad.'
These are words I wrote in my journal during what was certainly the hardest period of my life. I was only 19. And I had to watch death come over Dad, and eventually take him away.
Last weekend would have been Dad's 73rd birthday. He only made it to 61, after a long dance with cancer. I am thankful to be visiting my homeland on Kangaroo Island currently, so it was nice to say g’day to Dad on his birthday in the place we spread his ashes all those years ago. Mum helped me pick some rose petals to scatter for him.
I’m sharing this because June is Men's Health Month. And in honour of my dad, I am starting a bit early.
Though Dad died of something belonging to the physical realm (when looking through the lens of conventional medicine), mental health was also a challenge for him. And yet, he never sought help for that. I've often wondered whether doing so would have improved his chances of surviving.
Over the next 5 weeks through to the end of June, I'll be talking about issues relevant to men's health, and inviting men into a deeper conversation about their own health - mental, emotional and physical.
In honour of my dad, John, and one of my favourite books about men's personal development, 'Iron John: A Book About Men’ (highly recommended), I'll be using the hashtag #IronJohn on LinkedIn. If you haven’t already, I invite you to connect with me there so you can follow the deeper conversation.
As much as I wish Dad had some more time on this earth plane to unravel his troubles and learn to take proper care of himself, that's not the reality. But I can use his memory to positively impact others. One of my dad's favourite sayings illuminates this for me:
"There are no problems in life, just challenges and opportunities."
So let us together take the opportunity to spread the importance of men's health awareness. I'd greatly appreciate your support - the more men we can remind men how valuable they are, the better.
Tell the men in your life what they mean to you. And if you’re a man, know this:
Your health is worth taking care of.
It's okay to not be okay - support is available, wherever you are at.
Wishing you a Happy and Healthy Wellness Wednesday and I look forward to sharing more with you through June.