I know you might be thinking that’s a strange title for a post. I mean, what do Veterans Day and Movember have to do with each other? Well, for our family you could say they’re “related.” In case you haven’t yet heard of Movember here is a great description from their website:
During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of millions of moustaches on men’s faces around the world. Through the power of the Mo, vital funds and awareness are raised to combat prostate and testicular cancer and mental health challenges.
Our daughter rocking the staches for Movember
OK, so how are Veterans Day and Movember “related” for us? Well, on November 10, 2009 it was discovered that my husband had 3 tumors and was told to go immediately from the hospital on Fort Belvoir to Walter Reed Army Medical Center because he would need to have surgery right away. Needless to say, we were nervous! I wasn’t able to go with him because it all happened so quickly, and we didn’t have a sitter. I made it up there that night to discover they did the blood work and were preparing for surgery. The surgery is inevitable. Why?
Because my husband had testicular cancer. In the very rare case that the tumors were benign it is too much of a risk to biopsy without performing the orchiectomy. I also learned that night in my rush for answers that 25 (my husband’s age at the time) was a fairly average age for testicular cancer. We had NO idea! He had no family history, so we felt completely blindsided!
The night of November 10th proved to be too busy for the OR, so surgery would have to wait until the next morning – on Veterans Day.
By the next day the blood work had come back, and although they didn’t need it to confirm surgery was necessary, it did confirm our fears – it was cancer. His HCG levels were elevated, which is typical for testicular cancer. I thought HCG hormones were only related to pregnancy. Which, ironically, I was around 4 months pregnant at that time.
So, he had the surgery on Veterans Day in 2009. I remember reading Facebook status updates from my fellow military spouse friends sharing which restaurants were offering special military/veterans discounts that day and hearing the same from the hospital staff, but here we were feeling like our world was turned upside down.
We tried to make the most of it, but it was hard. The Red Cross goes around to the rooms and is so amazingly generous to give soldiers, vets, and their families things they need while in the hospital and even outside of the hospital. They asked if he had received a patriotic quilt to which I responded he hadn’t. I then found out they were only given to soldiers that had deployed. He was only in the Army for just under two years at this point and was currently serving as part of The Old Guard, and his particular company doesn’t deploy because they are the only ones who can do that particular job. It was at this moment my heart broke. He was an Infantry Mortar Man. He was ready to go whenever they needed him, but now we didn’t know what the future would hold.
Here we are 4 years later, and he is now a disable Veteran. He had another major surgery after the first because the type of cancer he had was highly malignant. Unfortunately, that preventative surgery wasn’t enough as the cancer returned less than a year later. Four months of chemotherapy resulted in many new medical problems that would prevent him from being able to return to duty. He has been cancer free for almost 3 years now, and though there are many challenges still we have learned a lot along the way, and God has taken care of our family.
We met a lot of Wounded Warriors on our journey as we spent a lot of time up at Walter Reed. We met a lot of Veterans in the cancer ward who were now fighting the cancer battle or were fighting for their wife. We met and lost a few friends along the journey. We saw these people fight new battles that ranged from extreme physical impairment to extreme emotional impairment and saw strength give out when they lost their spouse. My grandpa and dad both served in the Army, and I have always had respect and admiration for our Veterans, but to see and know them the way I got to in those months we were there is an experience I’ll never forget.
So, Veteran’s Day and Movember are “related” for us because that is when the journey began. I watched my soldier fight his battle with cancer. It was a hard fight, and his body started to quit. I am so grateful for the others that touched our lives because they inspired us to stay strong.
I want to help raise awareness for men’s health because I realized when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer that we were completely unaware of almost everything! There isn’t a big focus on men’s health issues. As we we’re constantly reminded to examine ourselves, but it almost seems like men’s health issues don’t get that kind of acknowledgment. They need to, though. It’s important. My husband’s tumors were very aggressive. That is why he already had three by the time he was diagnosed! The American Cancer Society Recommends Monthly self-exams.
So, will you join me? Please join my Movember Team or make a donation to help us change the face of men’s health. I can’t grow a mustache for Movember, but I can certainly wear a mustache! I will be hosting a Movember event right here on Pea of Sweetness that will kick off on November 16th with more information on Movember, how to donate, joining our team, and a special giveaway that will run until the end of the month! I will also be hosting smaller events along the way, and joining our team and helping spread the word might get you some bonus points! 😉
Bloggers – if you would like to help promote this awesome giveaway and help spread the word about this great cause sign up for the blogger opp here.