a man looking at his reflection and seeing a superhero

The Hero in the Mirror

This is a short post. But one everyone who has been diagnosed with cancer should read.

When you get the news you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, you never forget that first 5 seconds immediately following. Everything goes quiet, like you’ve been submerged in water. Sound is muffled and distant. You taste something different in your mouth. You can’t quite put your finger on the taste but it isn’t pleasant. Then you notice you haven’t really taken a breath but you know you should.


And then you do.

And then slowly the volume goes up. And your mouth clears up. And you start to move again.

The thoughts going through your head

Now you have to address the information you just got and all you can think about is those people you hear about on TV and on the internet who “beat” cancer. The heroes. Those with superhuman abilities to weather the treatments you now know are in your future. You remember how they were lauded and featured in special TV episodes about how they fought and beat the BIG C. They are applauded, cheered, revered.

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How can you… a mere mortal handle that? How can you do what those larger-than-life heroes did?

At least that is what I thought.

I’m not worthy. I can’t do this.

Inglorious beginnings

I was diagnosed six years ago stage 2 high grade bladder cancer. I had to have chemo and then a radical cystectomy/prostatectomy. I got through it. I’m still here.

I wasn’t special.

Up until my diagnosis, my life was pretty tame. My accomplishments few. Played the lead (Ebeneezer Scrooge) in my 5th grade play. Bragged for years about scoring in the 98th percentile on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills in the 8th grade. Until I took the SATs for college. They don’t really care what your scores were in 8th grade. I wasn’t an athlete in high school (or after high school for that matter.) My biggest sports accomplishment was my roommate and I were south campus badass doubles foosball players at Ohio State. Rarely did we have to relinquish a table on a Friday or Saturday night. By the time I hit my 30s I was bald and overweight (truth - been overweight my entire life - but not bald - that would would just be weird.) I’ve pretty much always lived in the suburbs. Have a wife, 2 kids, 2 cars. Totally and unremarkably average. They have my picture on wikipedia when you search for “average guy.”

None of us start as heroes

I put this out here because I had cancer. I had chemo. I had very invasive surgery. I have had issues with healing and I still have to live with my new-normal.

And so will you.

And at the end of the day you will get through it. Trust me.

None of us start as heroes when we’re diagnosed but by the time we get through it, we are. We’re heroes to our families and those that would miss us if we didn’t fight. We’re heroes to those that are hearing these words today… “Malignant… Stage… chemo… surgery…”

Wear your cape proudly

And if you’re reading this and you’re fighting the fight - you are a hero too!

So do me this favor. Go check your closet. I’m sure if you look, right next to your nighttime bed pads, catheters, medicine or other cancer trophies you’ll find your cape.

Put it on. Wear it proudly.

And know, you are my hero.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The BladderCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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