Welcome to Breakout Session Two. This live blog will be covering session Striking Back: The Galvanizing Effect of Battling Cancer.
Treatment for cancer involves tearing down the body and rebuilding, to which each of out panelists can attest, both physically and metaphorically. Because as devastating as cancer is, an astonishing amount of social good has arisen to honor those the disease has taken. Ranging from the global phenomenon of Movember, to the abundance of Camp Kesem sites, to the 19 Miller Grants that were awarded this year, these efforts remind all of us of the power of human connection.
Moderator – Jim Higley (@jimhigley), writer and marketing director for Camp Kesem
Panelists – Beth Blauer (@biblauer), wife of Oren Miller and Executive Director at John Hopkins Center for Government Excellence, Carter Gaddis (@dadscribe), long time journalist and blogger for Dads4Change, and Mark Hedstrom (@mtothehca), director for Movember in North America.
Beth – It’s been a rough couple years. But we’re doing ok. It’s sometimes a day by day thing, but we’re really hanging in there. We try and live each day through Oren’s words.
Carter – The reason I am on a this panel is because not only am I a passionate advocate for St. Judes, I went through my own battle with cancer that not many people knew about.
Mark – Movember started from 2 guys just having a conversation in a bar about the mustache making a comeback. They challenged 20 of their friends to grow a mustache for a month with a simple email titled “Are You Man Enough to be My Man.” What they found was this provided an opportunity to have many conversations that created the Movemeber we know today.
Mark – Prostate cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death in men every year. We see more women diagnosed with breast cancer, but more men will die from prostate cancer. At least 1,000 men will die from testicular cancer each year.
Carter – (in response to why he kept his cancer diagnosis to himself for so long) I didn’t have the words to express how I felt. Even though my prognosis was really good, I didn’t have the words to talk about it. I reached out to a few friends, but how do you tell that story? I didn’t want the story to be about me.
Carter – We all have a cancer story. I’m throwing the baton out to each and every one of you to tell that story and be and advocate for fighting cancer.
Beth – Everyone’s cancer journey is incredibly personal.
Beth – The scariest part about the public aspect as the changes that happened to Oren during his aggressive radiation on his brain.
Beth – It was his community, like the dad bloggers that helped pull him out of those dark places.
Jim – If you’ve never experience a loved one who has cancer, remember, the family is suffering too.
Mark – Movember is about men making connections. The mustache is the symbol, but it’s all about men having conversations.
Mark – Mental health is directly connected to men’s health issues. Cancer can be directly connected to feeling like one is losing their masculinity, and with that many men are taking their own lives when dealing prostate cancer and testicular cancer.
Mark – There is no good health without good mental health.
Carter – The difference between my heart attack and my cancer diagnosis is that the heart attack happened, but the cancer was something that occurred. Had I never gone to see my doctor my diagnosis could have been way worse.
Carter – I still don’t feel like a cancer survivor sometimes. I feel like I simply got my tooth pulled, except they took my left nut.
Carter – Listen to your body. Don’t ever take, “Aww, you’ll be fine” for an answer, educate yourself.
Beth – I was 38 when Oren was diagnosed. I was way to young to be thinking about end-of-life kind of things.
Beth – If there is one thing I’ve learned from all this is, you’re never too young to plan for what could happen.
Beth – Oren throttled his body so he could have one more meal with the kids; one more moment with his family.
Jim – My brother convinced me to get greater life insurance coverage, and a month later I was diagnosed with cancer.
Carter – I was so fortunate to have this community when I received my diagnosis. I wasn’t calling to ask for money or for anyone to hold my hand. I was just asking for some friends to listen. I needed a place; an emotional place.
Mark – Statistically, men lose connections as they get older, where women gain connections.
Mark – Men have conversations shoulder to shoulder, not face to face.
Beth – Oren had no time for bullshit. He hated small talk. He brought cancer right in the room and made you have a real and honest conversation.
Jim – Not only the head tilt, but the people who say “Oh, I just know everything will be fine” was my biggest pet peeve.