Justin Birckbichler is a fourth grade teacher, testicular cancer survivor and the founder of aBallsySenseofTumor.com. From being diagnosed in November 2016 at the age of 25, to finishing chemo in January 2017, to being cleared in remission in March, he has been passionate about sharing his story to spread awareness and promote open conversation about men's health. Connect with him on Instagram @aballsysenseoftumor, on Twitter @absotTC, on Facebook or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Part two of three in a series about my experiences at Relay for Life 2018
Despite never attending Relay for Life, my first was in April 2018 and I was there as both as team captain and a cancer survivor. It's more than just the laps and the fundraising. Recently, I reflected on my first lesson I learned from Relay for Life, that its purpose is to celebrate cancer survivors. Today, I am sharing my second lesson.
Relay for Life is to fight back against cancer
Around the same time as Relay for Life, I was working on a research study. You can read more about it here, but the long and short of it is that I was investigating men's experiences with testicular exams at the doctor's office. While the first phase of the study is now complete, and I encourage you to check out the results here, you're still welcome to partake as we see if trends change since the initial study.
Doing this study at the same time as Relay for Life was perfect. Knowing that I had my cool survivor bandana on and the event was all about cancer awareness, I decided I would take “The Blunt Approach” from "Six Ways to Talk About Testicles" and give the survey to literally any guy I saw along the way. I probably talked with well over 50 guys, and their answers to the survey all varied.
I talked to all sorts of males — from high school students to a Vietnam war veteran. The Sheriff's Department had a team, and I interviewed each of them in turn. I also administered the survey to the Miss Relay contestants, who are men who dress up in drag as another fundraiser.
Out of all the people I approached, only two guys outright said that they didn't want to participate. I didn't press the issue, and despite that, I was happy to see that the vast majority of the men were open to talking about testicular cancer and self-exams. Shows me that things are slowly changing for the better, which is my goal in April, the designated month for testicular cancer awareness.
If a man said he didn't know how to do a self-exam or how frequently to do one, I told them how to do it and to repeat monthly. I didn't have my fake testicles with me, but one person had two Dum-Dum lollipops, and, well, one thing led to another. Just add it to the growing list of foods I have reimagined as testicles.
I'd say that I definitely grabbed the moment by the ball(s) and used Relay for Life to spread some awareness about testicular cancer.
This is part two in a three part series. Be sure to check my CURE author page for my third and final major takeaway from my experience at Relay for Life 2018, where I get deep and less focused on testicular cancer and ball jokes.