My current (and greatest) life challenge – Man Week

Reading work for Man Week from friends in the blogging community, such as Julian Cole, Mark Pollard and Gavin Heaton, has inspired me to write a piece about a very current and very relevant topic.

Two weeks ago, on Monday the 15th of June, while at the SMCSYD event, I received a call that changed everything. It was my mum on the phone, calling from the hospital. My dad had been diagnosed with leukaemia.

The news hit me like a piano falling from a building. My dad has always been healthy, at 50 years old he is more fit than i am and plays hockey at a second grade competitive level. He’s never smoked and doesn’t drink to excess.

Since then a lot of information has been thrown at me, as new facts emerge as to the type of lukemia and the specifics of my dads condition and while everything has happened very quickly life has moved very slowly.

My dads particular type of leukaemia is called Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, it is a very aggressive type of leukaemia, especially for older males. In addition my father has what is called the Philadelphia chromosome which puts him in the poor prognosis category. All of this means that while he may make it into remission, his chances of recovery (statistically) are very low.

With all of this in mind I have found myself doing the very thing Man Week is designed to prevent, I have been bottling all my feelings inside. As the eldest male within my family I have felt that I need to be the strong person and bare the burden of the rest of my families upset and grief. I know in my conscious mind that this is not necessary, that my family is strong and we will all support each other. Yet a part of me cannot help but feel the need to fill this role.

Holding my feelings in has been taking its toll lately, I haven’t been sleeping (more so than usual), I have been snappy and generally a dick to my gorgeous girlfriend and I have just felt generally unmotivated. Talking to Jessica (girlfriend) and reading the posts people have written for Man Week has encouraged me to go forwards and speak to a counsellor or psychologist (still need to investigate where exactly I will go) to get some outside perspective on the situation and to find better ways of dealing with the feelings I am having.

The above was not easy for me to write and as I sit here my hands are shaking more than slightly. But I feel, already, like a weight has been lifted. Writing this post has been my first step on the path to unravelling the ball of emotions I’m currently dealing with.

I encourage everyone to get involved in anyway you can with the efforts of both Man Week and Reach Out.


16 thoughts on “My current (and greatest) life challenge – Man Week

  1. Beautifully written, Joel. My thoughts are with you. Are you going to share this post with your dad? Sometimes, it’s hard to talk. Reading and a nod back are OK.

  2. Yeah, I’m thinking I will print a copy of it and give it to him on friday night.

    At the moment he has no internet access from his hospital room.

  3. This is an incredible and powerful post Joel.

    Thank you for sharing with us, and I have to say I really respect your bravery.

    It’s interesting that you feel a sense of a need to fill the role that your father has created. While I think that’s very commendable, I hope that obligation doesn’t weigh down too heavily on you.

  4. I remember speaking with you at the Social Media Club – and spent the rest of the night thinking about what you might be going through. Write by all means (it doesn’t have to be public). Talk to friends or to strangers if you find it easier. There are links and information on the Reach Out website if you need them:

  5. Joel – I really respect your bravery and honesty in this post. It must be so very hard, and taking the step to share that with a wider audience is truly to be commended.

    Hopefully too, other men will come across your bravery and also feel it is ok to talk to someone when you are having a tough time. It doesn’t make you less of a man.

  6. In times of crisis my eldest brother acts exactly in the same manner you did and while it is incredibly comforting for me, the youngest, to be able to rely on his strength, I had never considered the emotional burden the ‘big brother’ sometimes has to bear.
    Thanks for your post.

  7. Joel – my thoughts are with you at this time. For a long time I bottled up thoughts of my Mum’s Multiple Sclerosis – avoidance is a natural, if not particularly helpful response.

    I echo Gavin’s words – however you manage to do it, continue to express yourself as you have done so beautifully here.

    All the best to you and to your father Joel.

  8. You really make it appear really easy with your presentation but I in finding this
    matter to be actually something that I believe I’d never understand. It sort of feels too complicated and extremely wide for me. I’m looking
    ahead to your subsequent post, I will try to get the
    hold of it!

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