When November rolls around every year, I think a lot more about gratitude. Thanksgiving has a way of reminding us how much we have to be grateful for, and I often find myself telling people “I’m thankful for you” and that sort of thing.
And when Movember rolls around every year, I think about my late husband Dan Potts even more than usual and, consequently, the importance of men’s health.
Movember was created to bring awareness and attention to men’s health in the month of November. Not just diseases such as prostate and testicular cancer, but also men’s mental health and suicide prevention. You can show your support for this movement by growing facial hair, and/or raising or giving money for men’s health in the month of November. We all have husbands, sons, brothers, fathers, cousins, grandsons and friends that deserve to be supported in living long and healthy lives. Men, you deserve it. A highly worthy cause, in my opinion.
Which reminds me, take a moment to be grateful for the men you love, right now, while they are here and all is well. Trust me.
Prostate cancer took my husband Dan’s life in 2104. Yet you never saw anyone live so courageously during the 16 years he fought it. It wasn’t until the last year of his life that you ever would have known he was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer 15 years earlier.
Dan was the person you looked at and couldn’t believe he of all people could have cancer. Years of weight lifting had made his veins quite prominent. Nurses and techs for years oohed and aahed at how easy it was to draw blood and insert IVs. (By the end those veins were destroyed, when they often had to bring in the expert nurses to find any vein in his arm or hand in which to insert a needle.)
Dan’s lifelong commitment to health and fitness was obvious. He ate well, he exercised, he was resilient and he was athletic and energetic. Yet cancer turns all of our beliefs about health upside down. Cancer patients just as healthy as Dan have lost their lives much sooner than he did. Cancer patients much less healthy than he have gone into remission for years or forever. It feels like there is no rhyme or reason to how cancer — and treatment — impacts each patient.
However, I strongly believe that Dan’s care for himself throughout his life was demonstrated in his longevity and resistance not just to the cancer, but to the endless treatments he endured. I can’t help but feel that his physical and mental strength and his tremendous spirit and sense of humor carried him through all those years of surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy, hormone-blockers and various drug regimens. I won’t go into how he was physically impacted by all of this; it’s worse than you can imagine. Regardless, we loved each other and laughed together every single day. I marveled at his energy, witnessing him give every day to his clients, athletes, friends and family. And to me.
I know widows whose husbands died of aggressive prostate cancer in a matter of months or a year or two after diagnosis. I am so fortunate that Dan did not. My gratitude for the time he and I had with each other can never be quantified. As I reflect on my life with Dan, I am not sad, nor angry or bitter. I am so very thankful. I am the person that I am today because of his love and support, and I was privileged to love and support him.
Dan’s cards, letters and notes to me are among my most precious possessions, and I don’t think he would mind if I shared some of his words with you:
I love you so very much, and I know and feel in my heart, what you have done for me. Our growth this year has been enormous. I love and look forward to each night. Thank you for the love you give from your heart! Here’s looking to 30 more years. I love you, Dan.
We didn’t get 30 years, but we got eight. Forever grateful, especially when Movember rolls around.
That man in your life, whoever he is? Or they are? Or perhaps it’s you? His health is very, very important. Please support him however you can.
For more information on Movember, visit www.movember.com.
Coach Pritam Potts is a writer and strength coach. After 16+ years of training athletes and clients of all ages as co-owner of Edmonds-based Advanced Athlete LLC, she now lives in Dallas, Texas. She writes about health & fitness, grief & loss, love & life at www.advancedathlete.com.