Now I've just finished reading an article about how men hide behind a wall of banter, how they use humour to hide their inner feelings, how they bottle it up and don't show weakness.
Now, usually I would have bypassed an article like this, I'm British, we don't have feelings, however, I found myself in situation last year, that alluded to this particular subject. I went and caught cancer.
I had one removed and a 9 week plan of chemo, leading me to think the saying "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" as it didn't make me stronger, it pissed me off and made me miss a summer.
So I told my friends. Ones in Singapore, ones on WhatsApp groups back in England, take the piss, laugh, slate me, let's have fun with this, because the last thing I'm going to need when I'm feeling like shit is consoling and the "you are going to get through this" bollox, of course I'm getting through this, its stage 2 and I'm 38 and had to cancel an ironman to get this done.
A good friend of mine actually pre-emoted my request by sending back "does that mean you can get a refund on the vasectomy", unfortunately, or fortunately if you look at it from a different point of view, my batt went and he was left in that 2 hour limbo of thinking "too soon?". But alas, it was spot on.
Another group of friends got together and sent me one of those sephero bb8 robot things that you can control by your phone and it zooms round your house. Now, one could think that my friends know me so well that they feeding my Star Wars addiction at a time of need, but the card read "this is to replace the ball that you lost".
A mate took a picture of me holding an UNO card and put it up with a caption, "proving not only do testicles get cancer, assholes do as well".
My chemo period also coincided with lions tour of New Zealand, this was fortuitous as even the kids didn't complain when I wanted to watch it and I was given a pass from any kids birthdays play dates that might have clashed with the schedule. It also meant it was good timing for people to come and visit me, most of the time I just wanted to lay in bed watching inane rubbish and trying to ignore the digestive issues that made my belly feel like someone was washing up in it. But when the lions was on I wanted company, 20m into I think it was game 3 my guest reached into his bag and brought out a cellophane bag of almonds and passed them to me, I looked at him quizzically, "nut-sack" he informed me.
A good friend flew over from England for the last lions game. We headed out to see it, I had 1 chemo left I think. We got there about two hours early and just chatted, about 15-20 minutes before the game started the bar started to fill up, I started to feel hot and clammy, it felt claustrophobic, the room was closing in on me, I can only imagine that this was what the start of a panic attack felt like. So we made the decision. We left the pub and went to the one next door, it was much less packed and the aircon was better.
Near the end, of the chemo, not my life, an American I know came to visit me during one of my chemo sessions. I was fast asleep and looking pretty much like one would after 9 weeks of being poisoned. He took a photo of me.
I fucking hated that picture, it showed weaknesses, venerability, age, sickness, it was fucking awful. I couldn't believe how much it pissed me off, it didn't upset me, it pissed me off, I'm a 6'4 120kg bald Millwall supporter, there are not supposed to be pictures of me like that.
Anyhow, these days I just show it to the wife when I want a night out.
Now, I'm quite glad that I kept reading the article, as it started wishy washy and pretty much came to the same conclusion as me, laughter is the best therapy, for ME. Is this going to work for everyone? No, of course not, a good Japanese friend sent me a pic of one of those newtons cradle things, however except the balls had been replaced with a hanging ball sack, a year later, now that she is combatting breast cancer, she can't believe she sent me that, but I loved it, it also shows that people need different support (shortly after she said she couldn't believe she sent me that pic, I decided not to post the playboy magazine to her).
Not sure how to support? Just ask, as Bob Hoskins always said, it's good to talk.