My Oncologist Says I’ve ‘Graduated’ from Cancer

A few weeks ago, I sat with my oncologist as we discussed the fact that I am five years cancer-free of colorectal cancer. He called it my “graduation day” from cancer. He said to me, “It was time to go live your life,” which seemed puzzling to me at the time. Haven’t I already been living my life and wasn’t that what I had been trying to do these last five years? It felt like I was being dropped off at the wrong bus stop without knowing what direction to go next on this journey.

We talked for a while about all the feelings that this new reality might bring my way. I did appreciate him taking the time to do that with me because I realized that wasn’t on his agenda that day. I know he had other patients far worse off than me to see that day.

We discussed continuing to keep up with my regular screenings for my cancer. He encouraged me because I had become a well-informed patient over the years and because of that knowledge, continued to follow up on any symptoms I might have in the future. He wished me well and we said our goodbyes that day. We both hoped I would never find myself in his office again in my lifetime.

Over the last few weeks since that day, I started unpacking all the baggage from the last five years. There were many things that I had put off or ignored because I had been so hyper-focused on surviving cancer. I met with my general practitioner recently to discuss all the other health issues that I might be dealing with as an “older man.” Surprisingly enough, my blood pressure was completely normal. Could it be that my anxiety of cancer recurring might no longer be a worry? Probably not but the fact that my schedule is now free of all follow-up appointments for my cancer has put me a bit at ease. My wife and I were discussing the other day that we no longer had to schedule our lives around my cancer diagnosis.

Does that mean I’m done with cancer? By no means; I plan to advocate in the cancer space by any means possible over the next few years. As the COO of Man Up to Cancer, I plan on advocating that men especially talk or share more about what cancer might have emotionally done to them.

As men, we tend to either check out or stay in our “man caves” during the diagnosis and treatment of our cancer. We either live in shame or we are too scared that people will think less of us because of the cancer we might be diagnosed with at the time. We put undue pressure on our caregivers because we refuse to share the emotional trauma that the disease brings with it. Studies have shown that men do far better in treatment and survivorship when they take care of their mental health while in treatment.

I definitely believe that cancer might be done with me, but I am not done with cancer. To find out more about my work with Man Up to Cancer and our programs. Go to

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