Tag Archive: spirituality

One Man, One Ball: No Bueno.

An Honest Portrayal of One Man’s Battle with Testicular Cancer

Andy, if you haven't already guessed!  Photo by Bartosz Cerkaski

Photo by Bartosz Cerkaski

He can be unapologetically offensive. He’s not afraid to get graphic. He likes to stun just to see your reaction. That’s Andy! You may have a similar Andy, or seen one on TV. He’s the fashionable, fit and witty #gay sidekick. Depending on the era in which your Andy lives he either goes gaga for Lady GaGa or Material Girl Madonna. As for this Andy, never, ever, mention Lady Gaga or he’ll give you a verbal beat down. This is not to say that all gay men, or even those named Andy, fit some neat #stereotype. I simply mean he’s that confidant you can confide in, who will also chastise you for your music and fashion choices.

I met Andy, my ex’s former #roommate, about five or six years ago. We only ever exchanged a few words, but that was all it took for me to gather that he liked to use wit as a #weapon. I pitied those caught in the crossfire. And I hoped I wasn’t one unbeknownst to me. Fast forward to the World of #Facebook. We reconnected through a “like” here or a brief comment there. Until he messaged me out of the blue one day with a big revelation.

“I don’t really know you,” he said, “but I just found out I have cancer.”

All it took was that brief declaration to alter a reality and a relationship. With such an intimate reveal Andy no longer became that bitchy Facebook acquaintance. Subsequent intense conversations introduced me to a more layered and complex man than I previously gave credit. His austere facial expressions now expose a stoicism. Like a truffle, his tough exterior gives way to a soft and sweet soul. He endures a hardship not readily apparent in his appearance. He’s a man you have to question to get to know. If you quickly judge him you’re sure to be mistaken. Now faced with #death, I wanted to learn more about what makes this intriguing man tick.

Here’s what I found:

Me:  How old were you when you were diagnosed with testicular #cancer?

Andy:  I was 32 years old. Three months after I had come back to #Poland, after having lived in the U.S. for 13 years. I didn’t come back because I was sick. It was all a huge surprise.

(He pauses to light a cigarette.)

I came back to Poland the first day of April 2013. Healthy. By August I felt something wrong with my ball. A week later I had my ball removed.

Me: Damn, that’s rough! What felt wrong?

Andy: One of my balls had gotten swollen, to the size twice as big as the other one.

I had just gotten accepted to a medical school.

Me: Wow. Medical school?

That’s kind of ironic to learn of that as you are about to study #medicine.

Andy: Yeah I know.

And I didn’t want to go exercise with all the other boys that were half my age. So I wanted an excuse not to go to my gym class.

Me: Wait, you wanted to see the doctor just to cut gym class?

(laughing fit ensues.)

Andy:  I never thought it was gonna be a big deal.

I felt one of my balls feel heavier than the other one, because I used to do too much jerking off. Sorry for the TMI! But that’s what I thought.

Me:  That’s hysterical! You thought you caused that from too much masturbating?

Andy: Yup. I am Polish after all.

Me: Imagine that could happen? Men would be terrified everywhere!

So what was the very first thought that popped into your head when you learned it was cancer?

Andy: I thought, I can deal with it, but I was worried about my parents.

Can I tell you a little short story about when I first found out about it?

Me: Sure!

Andy: My mother, who doesn’t go to church by the way, had given me a chain with you know–holy Mother Mary … Basically, I had to wear it because it was a gift. So I did. When I went to the hospital to get my ball checked if it was cancer, the second I get there before they give an ultrasound, the chain breaks and the Mother of Jesus/made up bitch/Madonna wannabe, falls off my chain.

And I swear I knew I had cancer.

Me: Wow. That’s such an interesting omen. So you felt like it was a sign?

Andy: I did somehow. Not for me, but because my Polish family is so religious I felt it meant something.

As soon as that happened I was like, ‘OK, I have cancer.’

If my necklace had the REAL #Madonna hanging off my chest I wouldn’t have cancer. So #religion is bad. Believe in whores who like what they do, instead of made up people.

Me: You’re a nut!

Andy: Is that nuts? Not really.

Me: How did you emotionally prepare yourself to tell your parents? What did you say? How did they handle it?

Andy: Well the doctor told me there’s a 99% chance that it is cancer. I called my mom and said, ‘They found a growth on my ball and it’s probably nothing, so they have to examine it,’ and not to worry.

But I knew it was cancer because he told me.

Me: Oh man.

Andy: He asked about my age and everything and he said, ‘Yeah … prepare yourself.’

Me: He said that?

Andy: Yes.

Me: Even without knowing for sure?

Andy: Yeah. I went for that checkup on Tuesday. Thursday morning they were taking my ball out.

He said they were gonna take out my ball and they wouldn’t know for sure until they get the results that take like two weeks, but he said, ‘Get ready, you have cancer.’

This hospital bed won't kill his vibe!

This hospital bed won’t kill his vibe!

Me: Damn!

Andy: He told me they were gonna take it out and I was gonna be fine. He didn’t mention #chemo. Actually I called my sister first and told her not to tell our parents, because I didn’t want to worry them. My sister told me I have to tell them what’s going on. That’s when I called my mom. I thought, ‘No one has to know.’

Me: The phone call no mom wants to hear.

Andy: Not at all. And I felt bad because I had lived in NY for almost 14 years against my parents will and then finally I come back and they are happy and then I have to be like, ‘Just kidding, I have cancer!’

Me: Oof.

Andy: That was not on my agenda at all. It was supposed to be a happy ending.

Me: So you told your mom and dad. How did that go?

Andy: I told my mom when she was driving her car.

Me: Bad timing!

Andy: She almost crashed.

But she’s tough. She told my dad and he has been crying ever since.

Me: Awe! I love sensitive men.

Andy: Yeah, he’s an #angel.

Me: You said you knew you could deal with it. Have you been dealing with it? Have you been coping? Is it possible to cope?

Andy: Give me 10 seconds. I’m getting a bear.

OMG! Beer! Not a bear!

Me: I don’t know what you’re into! I didn’t want to ask.

Andy: Not bears. This is like being on #Oprah, girl.

Me: So you said you could deal with this. Have you been coping well? How the f*ck do you cope with this?

Andy: I went in denial, really. I worried about my #family. The oh-so-dramatic family I was born into.

Me: I’m sure they’ll love to read that part.

Andy: They don’t speak #English so they won’t. We’re good.

The only thing I thought about was if I could deal with death.

Me: What conclusion did you come to?

Andy: That I am 100% sure there is something after this #Earth, that there is a different dimension to all of this. Just like there is life on different planets. It would be really arrogant to assume that you don’t go anywhere after you die. The #universe is, what’s the word I’m looking for?, infinite! I had thought that way before I got cancer, so to me it wasn’t as scary.

Me: So this thinking comforts you then?

Andy: For sure. And it’s not to say I want to die tomorrow and I don’t care, I want to live for as long as I can because I want to leave something behind, and I don’t think I have done that. But I don’t believe for one second that when your life on Earth ends that is it. And I can’t believe anyone can think that. I think that’s rude.

Me: What do you want to leave behind?

Andy:  Wow. You’re really going there.

I mean, I don’t have the power that famous people do. Haha! Obviously! But I do believe in a sense of #humor and I believe that is THE most important thing in the world.

Me: I agree. We need it in this world of ours.

Andy: I believe that a person without a sense of humor is a potential serial killer.

Me: Not sure about the serial killer part, though.

So what mistakes of yours do you want people to learn from?

Andy: So you really are the white lesbian Oprah.

I can be your Gay-le!

Me: I. Just. Died.

Andy: Ok, my mistakes. Well, let’s just say I did coke for 10 years straight like it was water. And I will say that I have had the most amazing experiences doing coke. I have also hit the lowest of the low and I would say to someone who has never tried it, don’t ever do it!

It creeps up on you and it’s not worth it. If I could go back to the time before I did my first bump I would have never done it.

I can’t believe I’m saying this.

So when is your talk show happening?

Me: I love the #honesty.

What else?

Andy:  Don’t take no for an answer. No matter what you do. It’s better to be rejected than boring.

You will never make the entire world #love you.

Concentrate on what you do.

Me: What do you want for yourself? And is it different now after having had cancer?

Andy: I’m worse now. I #drink more and #smoke more. So no, don’t do what I do. That’s my advice.

Me: Oh no. Why are you worse? If you are worse than are you secretly not dealing well?

Andy: I’m worse because death became so close that it was almost palpable and I wasn’t scared. So now I’m just like, ‘F*ck it! Let’s see who wins,’ which is not good.

Me: Wow.

Andy: Wow. I have never been more honest, ever.

Me: That’s honest!

So you feel invincible?

Andy: Noooooo, not at all. I like the fight and I don’t believe that if I die that’s gonna be the end of me, but I am scared of that, too. I don’t wanna die without leaving a mark behind me, but maybe this interview will be it, so maybe after this I will give up.

Me: If liking that fight, that challenge, of almost chasing death doesn’t that mean you are sort of giving up on your life now? Being the best you can be now?

Andy: I want to be the best I can, but it’s easier said than done.


#death, #life, #spirituality, #purpose, #cancer, #testicularcancer, #Poland, #chemo, #universe, #world, #gay, #lesbian, #cocaine, #mortality,

Hey Purpose! Where the Hell are You?

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” – Rumi

You hear it often that your #purpose should be what you’re passionate about. I agree. If you’re one of the lucky ones, as a child you knew exactly what you wanted to be when you grew up—and you stayed the course. But let’s face it the majority of us have no damn idea what our “purpose” is. We may “like” a lot of different things, but wouldn’t willingly commit our entire existence to any one of them. So we simply get up each day, get ready, and get behind a computer screen until the clock hits 5. Our purpose is elusive, like some soft shadow at our feet intangible to the touch or a pair of misplaced car keys. You know it’s got to be somewhere! You check the doorknob, under the bed, or the kitchen cabinet, you even run outside to check behind the car seat. Depending on the type of person you are, you do one of two things:

A. You scorn your alarm clock when it strikes 7 a.m., reminding you to go to that office #job you deplore. Where that one co-worker spends his day crinkling potato chip bags and loudly chewing his food with his mouth open, while that other co-worker sees it as his life mission to outdo you in every conceivable conversation. “Oh. You went to the Nick Cave concert? Well, my band actually opened up for him in 2008. Yeah, I know him. We hung out.” (Good for you, a**hole). Then there’s the one who spies on all of his co-workers to catch them on Facebook or lingering too long chatting at another’s cubicle and makes a report to the higher ups. The office snitch sniffing about. If this was Nazi Germany you would all be dead. At lunch hour you get to listen in on the VPs in the lunch room inappropriately talking about sex (people, by the looks of them, you do not ever, ever, ever, wish to visualize engaging in sex), or passive aggressively condescending one another–you know that tone, the one you are so often receiving. Afterwards, you log on and listen to Spotify on high in hopes of drowning out the rest of your day, while also rupturing your eardrums. Later, you inflame your road rage in two-hour bumper-to-bumper traffic only to arrive home and plop in front of the TV, after falsely promising yourself you would hit the gym or do something actually productive. The input of your day has numbed your brain. You’re essentially brain dead. Sometimes you can’t even enunciate clearly by bedtime.

And YAY! You get to do it all again tomorrow!


B.  You curl up on the floor in the fetal position dreading the mere existence of your life because you misplaced your purpose. Depression turns to decision-making, however. You decide to do something about it, anything. You grasp at whatever engages you. You feed your psyche with enriching #selfhelp books and how-tos on “finding your purpose.” You meditate (or in my case, attempt to #meditate only to fall asleep) and listen to endless podcasts and watch webinars from #spiritual gurus who found their way and promise to help you find yours, only for $297.

You light up your home with Himalayan Sea Salt lamps (I have an orange one!) in order to replicate the serenity of sitting by a waterfall and attain some clarity, or if you have the time and resources you go on life-altering #sabbaticals. How about a sweat lodge in upstate New York where you pack tightly around hot rocks to commune with spirit, unless you pass out first? Sign me up! (Speaking of sabbaticals, can someone please send me on an African safari?). Last week you were are ALL about #Reiki, next week you’re opting for a chakra cleanse. You have shamanic healing and #LawofAbundance classes on your to-do list.  You just do … something. You refuse to let a sleeping dog lie. That dog isn’t going anywhere sitting on his ass. I know! I’ve attempted to spin my dog in circles while he’s sleeping and it’s just a bunch of dead weight without much acceleration. Again, if you’re one of the lucky ones you stay the course, and you find your purpose.

boys copy
But what if your enthusiasm peters out?

I heard a #webinar (I never said there was anything wrong with being a (B)!) from the Spiritual Entrepreneur and Philanthropist, #JohnAssaraf, in which he stated, loosely, “It takes 56 days or longer to have a certain behavior take effect in the brain for long-term change to happen.” And I believe it. How often do we commit to making a change, like a New Year’s resolution on losing weight or giving up smoking, only to quit by week three? Permanent change takes constant commitment, which is also probably why I can’t seem to make meditating a daily habit. I either succeed in procrastinating or startle myself awake upon realizing that I had just drooled all over my hand. I presume the lesson here is perseverance. While your life may seem like a bunch of failed attempts, at least you are trying. Any sort of movement vibrates in the cosmos and makes a little shift in your atmosphere; a ripple towards change. You can either sit on your ass or send out your resume, because once that sleeping dog wakes up (and noticed you trying to spin him in circles ad nauseam) there’s going to be a bite, eventually. Presently in my life, I’m cocked somewhere in between sitting and standing, which looks a bit like the exact moment someone pulls a chair right out from under you. Gravity’s going to see to it that I move.

Your purpose may never come in a great epiphany or some “a-ha!” moment in which you scream, “I know what I want to do with the rest of my life!” It may never come in endless hours of wracking your brain, or some lucid dream. It may just come in stumbling blocks. You may just get glimmers of it, like a reflection off a sunlight stream, with each new endeavor. You decide to abandon one job and opt for another, not necessarily because you found your calling, but because you could no longer stand your boss! Regardless of the reason you are at least taking action. It’s up to us to make those subtle shifts to attain daily happiness.

As Scandal creator, #ShondaRhimes succinctly said in her commencement speech at her Dartmouth University alma mater, “Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer. Maybe you know exactly what it is you dream of being, or maybe you’re paralyzed because you have no idea what your passion is. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to know. You just have to keep moving forward. You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new.”

“It doesn’t have to fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life,” she adds. “Perfect is boring and dreams are not real. Just … do. So you think, ‘I wish I could travel.’ Great. Sell your crappy car, buy a ticket to Bangkok, and go. Right now. I’m serious.”

So let’s leap, or hell, stumble into taking steps to change our lives. We may ironically fall through the backdoor to our purpose. Well, at least our purpose, for now. And really, now is all we’ve got.

(For a crash course on Finding Your Purpose in 5 Minutes, check out this great TED Talk with Entertainment Executive Adam Leipzig.)