The Dude abides: Testicular cancer survivor now helps raise awareness
ABINGDON, Va. – John Taylor is a regular blogger and a talented writer, and he writes from personal experience.
It used to be primarily about parenting, which he did as a stay-at-home dad, but then he was confronted with something else that grabbed his attention – testicular cancer.
At age 29, he was diagnosed with Stage 3 testicular cancer, which had spread to his lymph nodes, abdomen and lungs. Taylor fought through that ordeal from September 2012 to February 2013, giving regular accounts of the experience in his blog, and now that he’s finished treatment at Johnston Memorial Hospital (JMH) and been declared cancer-free, he’s become a strong advocate for testicular cancer awareness.
Taylor helps the Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation with their online presence, serves as a peer-to-peer mentor for people with testicular cancer, and continues to write blog articles about parenting and about dealing with cancer at his site, TheDaddyYoDude.com.
“Men are still reluctant to talk about this kind of thing,” he said. “It’s taboo. ‘Hey, you need to check your testicles’— that’s something men just don’t do. And I was like that, too.
“But silence is just as deadly as disease when it comes to something like cancer. When the time comes, these are discussions we NEED to have with our family and our children. It kind of ties into parenting – of getting people to be more open about their health. It might be kind of awkward to talk about at first, but the earlier you catch this, the more treatable it is.”
April is National Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, so this is a busy month for Taylor. He’s appeared on TV, in a JMH calendar and on a billboard, talking about his ordeal and saying “thank you” to his caregivers. (He’s featured as “Mr. April” in the calendar.)
One of his last blog pieces was “An Open Thank You Note to Those Who Saved My Life,” in which he praised the staff at Johnston Memorial Hospital for their care. He wrote: “It requires dedicating so much of your day to patients who are fighting for their lives, knowing that some may not see the end of the long journey. It takes a strong heart, a caring soul, and a will beyond all to do what you do. … So today, I thank you because YOU are the ones that saved my life.”
Taylor’s blog is called “The DaddyYo Dude: Slowly Losing it Since 2007.” His discourses about surviving cancer are honest and edgy, and they contain the kind of perspective and information you won’t find in many other places. They can also be humorous.
His titles include “6 Things They Don’t Tell You about Surviving Cancer,” “The Tough Testicles Talk,” “Then There was One: My Testicular Cancer Story” and “I Beat Cancer and All I Got was this Billboard.”
“This is how I’ve always written,” he said. “I don’t write very filtered. I’m not just going to share everything that’s good. I try to write it from every perspective. It’s real.
“I’m blessed to be alive and I received great treatment, but there are still some not-so-great things involved, so I think it’s important to talk about those along with the good things.”
Taylor said he’s doing well now, with some lingering side effects from his treatment. He credits a strong online support system for helping him and that’s how he tries to give back. He helps the TC Awareness Foundation with their Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr accounts and through that kind of work has found himself answering questions or chatting online with testicular cancer patients, giving them the kind of support that can only come from someone who’s been through it himself.
“This kind of peer-to-peer stuff is a mixed bag emotionally,” he said. “You can be sharing one person’s joy and the next week you’re sharing in their family’s sorrow. That’s the reason the TCAF and I keep doing what we do.”
Visit TheDaddyYoDude.com to read the full story about his ordeal with cancer, how Johnston Memorial Hospital’s cancer care helped save him and how men can be on the lookout for testicular cancer. You can also view his 30-second video.