One of my (Brett's) best friends was recently diagnosed with testicular cancer. The resulting chemo has caused hair loss and, of course, beard loss. I have not been beardless for longer than 1 week since I was 16 (and even then only twice), I LOVE my beard. I mean, I even own a beard oil company!
So I wanted to hear from Kyle and asked him to write about his journey and the many things that come with it. And for the next week (Today, Nov. 10th through Saturday Nov. 18) 10% of all sales will go to a cancer research charity picked by Kyle. If you would like to support Kyle's cancer fight, you can purchase an awesome shirt from here.
This is a snippet of Kyle's story:
This isn’t the first time I’ve lost my beard. The last time was in early 2013, when a bad trim (come on, we’ve all been there) led to a fresh start. I have the pics to prove it, and no, I won’t share them. See, I love my beard. I can grow a dang good one, too—one that I can be proud of. My wife loves my beard (when it’s properly tamed and maintained, of course; Hat tip to UBIQUITY).
I like it so much that I braved the DMV one year instead of renewing my driver’s license online just so I could get a new picture with my beard. This one does have proof.
I think it would be safe to say that my beard had become a part of my identity.
So when my oncologist told me that the type of chemo I needed to be on for my testicular cancer would make it fall out, I was initially disappointed. My mom tried to reassure me (as moms do) that some people she knew went through chemo treatments and didn’t lose any hair, but I didn’t get my hopes up. In fact, when my beard hairs did start coming out upon the slightest brush, I felt something I hadn’t quite anticipated:
That meant the chemo was doing what it was supposed to do. Sure, I’d had some of the standard side effects before the hair loss (nausea, fatigue, and the like), but nothing had yet signaled to me that the types of cells that were supposed to be affected were actually being affected. Don’t get me wrong—treatment for testicular cancer is extremely well-established and I trust my doctors, but there’s just something about having some good old-fashioned empirical evidence right in front of you that tends to put your mind at ease. It’s worth all of the well-natured babyface comments from friends, the “but you’re so handsome with no facial hair!” remarks from grandparents, and yes, even the 10 minutes of belly laughter from my wife when I walked into the room after shaving. And you know what? I laughed right along with her.
Yes, my beard had become part of my identity, but it was not who I am. It did not, nor will it ever, define me. Cancer sucks, but it will not define me either. I am a husband, a son, a brother, an uncle, a friend, a co-worker, a citizen, a teacher, and a child of God. Soon, I will get to add survivor to that list. To allow myself even a minute of lament over the loss of something as superficial as my beard would be to hand this disease a small victory over all of that, and that’s just something I am not willing to do.
I loved my beard, but my beard will grow back. This cancer, God-willing, will not.
If you would like to send an encouraging message to Kyle, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll make sure he gets it.