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'Hiding at the back of the gym crying'

Published on 03 May 2018  | Download | back to previous

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Men are less than half as likely as women to ask for help when they are diagnosed with cancer, according to the charity Macmillan. Craig Toley was 29 when he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer but didn't talk about it until after he'd fallen into a deep depression.

"I remember when I got diagnosed I went to work straight from the doctor's surgery and did a full day's work.

"I didn't talk to anyone I think for maybe three or four months."

Craig, who is from Northolt, was diagnosed two years ago.

After almost losing his dad to leukaemia when he was younger, Craig didn't want to talk about his diagnosis, partly to protect his parents and partly "that old guy thing of, 'Oh you know, I'll be fine.'

"I didn't talk about personal stuff. I didn't believe I should talk about how I felt and I found out that was completely the wrong thing to do."

Macmillan says its analysis of ONS data shows 400 men a day are diagnosed with cancer in England.

And while men are 22% more likely to get cancer, they are also 45% more likely than women to die from cancer, it says.

The charity is urging men to talk more in order to alleviate anxiety and fear.

Previous Macmillan Cancer Support research shows that 49% of men diagnosed with cancer experienced anxiety during treatment and 25% felt depressed when they were diagnosed.

They say it's crucial that men ask for help before they reach this crisis point.

'An absolute mess'

Craig, who is a weightlifter and strongman, decided to cope with his diagnosis in a practical way.

He organised a charity truck-pulling competition to give him something to focus on after his radiotherapy. But it didn't work out in the way he expected.

"Leading up to the event, I realised I was in trouble and I realised I wasn't in a good place mentally.... I was breaking down and crying all the time.

"I remember at work I would go and sit in an office on my own and cry and I didn't really know why I was doing it but I couldn't stop myself from crying."

On the day of the competition he was "in bits" and had to get his family to organise and run it.

"I was hiding at the back of the gym. I was sitting on an Atlas Stone with my hood up crying my eyes out - I was an absolute mess."

He called a friend and he managed to calm him down.

"From that point I realised that I can't deal with cancer how I've been dealing with issues my entire life. I can't push it to the back of my head and tap into it when I need to get myself through something painful like lifting."

Click here to continue reading this article sourced from BBC News.

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