Sitting on the sidelines watching the world drift by. The same f*cking boring routine every single day which like so many others, I detested. Merely a hen in a battery cage serving my role until I was considered economically unviable. But it’s what society expected of me. I existed but didn’t have any real purpose. I thought simply breathing meant I was alive. However, eleven years ago, a single moment changed my life. Alongside my wife of exactly thirty-days, on May 3rd, I heard the three most dreaded words in the English language, “You have cancer.”
Back then, I was too manly to cry. Too macho to let anyone know I was scared shitless. I was a Marine, for Christ’s sake. Emotionless and completely numb, I immediately had surgery and subsequently radiation therapy—it was exactly what the doctor’s prescribed. They were doctors, I was not, and so it never crossed my mind to question their authority. I lost a lot more than my testicle back then—a downward spiral where eventually my masculinity would vanish as well. Another unsettling discovery happened as a result: I cried last year as much as a newborn baby. Perhaps forty-plus years of extreme emotional build up mixed together with precisely the right amount of estrogen caused the outburst. I’m certainly not embarrassed by it. It is who I’ve become.
At that moment I realized it wasn’t about surviving anymore, I needed to thrive. To get healthy, flourish, and forge ahead. It was not about just taking the road less traveled, it was now time to leave my own mark on this planet. To question authority along the way and not wait around for anyone or anything in particular. Equally, I need to propel others to greatness even if it means sacrificing myself to do so. I truly believe I was given a second chance at life. A life that will be much happier, vibrant and full of affection. And one I’ll never again take for granted.