I Just Came Out as Someone Who Is Living with Cancer

It was as scary as coming out as gay more than 30 years ago — and equally empowering.

Jeremy Helligar

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Photo: Jayden Malady

On April 5 of this year, I received some news that has been life-altering in so many ways, some of which I am still in the process of processing. I was diagnosed with stage 1 prostate cancer. Don't worry. It was caught very very early, and my prognosis is excellent. I am fine—as you can see in the pic my husband took last week of me with our Yorkie, Chip. I'm going to be fine. Despite the psychological effect of my diagnosis, there have been no physical ramifications. I'm incredibly lucky.

I wasn’t planning on sharing this publicly, but after nearly seven months, I’ve realized that by doing so, I might be of service to someone who feels alone in their own cancer journey or someone who thinks it can’t happen to them. I haven’t told many people about my diagnosis, but the support I’ve received has been immensely helpful. I’m especially grateful for the support of people who have gone through/are going through similar challenges.

In the spirit of being preemptively supportive, I wanted to take the opportunity to underscore how important it is to be vigilant about your health and to listen to your body. If you are a man over age 40, don't slack off on your annual check-ups and blood work—and pay attention to your PSA score!

Prostate cancer is something more than half of all men will harbor at some point if they live long enough, but when you're relatively young (yes, according to my urologist, I'm still relatively young), being watchful can determine the extent of prostate cancer's physical effects and the quality of the second half of your life.

End of public service announcement. Be well and be good to yourself.

Yesterday, I did what will probably be the scariest thing I’ll do this year: I came out on Facebook as a person living with cancer via the post above. To recap, on April 5, 2023, I was told I have prostate cancer. I must admit, the news didn’t floor me. It came after months of appointments with my urologist, multiple PSA tests, and, finally, a very uncomfortable and bloody biopsy.

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Jeremy Helligar

Brother Son Husband Friend Loner Minimalist World Traveler. Author of “Is It True What They Say About Black Men?” and “Storms in Africa” https://rb.gy/3mthoj