If you had to guess what a personal trainer, a die-hard runner, and a healthful vegetarian have in common, you would probably never guess “lung cancer.” But far more than their diagnosis, these three guys are connected by the strength they find in their families, the openness and vulnerability they share in talking about their diagnosis, and the focus they put on reaching other men who, like them, are also learning how to live with lung cancer.
Speakers Bureau members James Hiter, Frank McKenna, and AJ Patel
Jim Baranski, Executive Director
Men Sharing Their Lung Cancer Diagnosis
Guys DO want and need to share their feelings about the challenges of living with lung cancer. Listen to these poignant stories of James Hiter, Frank McKenna, and AJ Patel. These guys, living with lung cancer, are first and foremost, husbands and fathers. They talk about the strength they draw from the most fundamental relationships in their lives. They talk about sharing their lung cancer diagnosis with their kids—and how those relationships helped change their perception of being diagnosed with lung cancer.
AJ Patel talks about how communicating honestly about these issues with his kids helps them work through their own feelings about his diagnosis.
Appreciating Their Support Network
A lung cancer diagnosis is a stressful experience in a person’s life. The support of family and friends is incredibly helpful and appreciated by these men, even if they were reluctant at first.
Frank shares how the actions of his sons were just so inspiring to him. “To know that I had that effect on them, that they wanted to give back to me and, and, you know, make their dreams and wishes come true with the little time that we had.”
Since AJ’s diagnosis, he is now more open to family members and others talking to them and sharing his emotions and feelings. This openness was something new – he was reserved and never really talked about his health because he thought he was supposed to be the head of the household. “What am I going to do? Being vulnerable? But now I realize that vulnerability leads to discussions and dialogues, and it’s not necessarily always an outcome that we’re, well, now we feel better.”
AJ has stepped up to connect as a “buddy” to other men facing a lung cancer diagnosis.
“I would just encourage if anybody’s listening to this and you’ve been recently diagnosed, you know, somebody has been recently diagnosed, set aside, whatever preconceived ideas you have about talking to people that you don’t know about this, and just know it can be really beneficial just to have a second set of ears.”
Men Also Advocate for Lung Cancer Research
Another thing that all three men have in common is the knowledge that the latest lung cancer research has been vital to their survival of this disease. Knowing that there is much more work to be done, they have chosen different ways to advocate for lung cancer research. Besides being part of the LCFA’s Speakers Bureau, each of them found a way to give back even while managing their own cancer journey.
“And it’s, it’s so important for guys to know that there were other guys in here, you know, like the, the three of us who work with the speaker’s bureau in order to get that word out there. And do the events that we do – appear on some of the podcasts and on the websites, and some of the things we do to let people know that there were other guys out here that are willing to help, they’re willing to, you know, either lead by example or give advice, or, you know, just kind of say, it’s okay to talk to someone who knows what you’re going through or has been through it.” – Frank McKenna