Why We Exist
When I was 18, I was an average kid working at Swiss Chalet for the summer. Life was good, until one day… disaster. I tripped off an elliptical machine and canned myself. Nice. Over, the next few weeks, I noticed some swelling in my ‘gentleman’s area’ and thought that I kind of deserved it, so I ended up ignoring and making excuse after excuse for not doing anything. Eventually I decided to talk to my mother about my balls (super awkward) and she insisted I see a doctor. What they ended up finding… was cancer. Getting canned saved my life but… I was terrified.
This marked the beginning of my nine and half year journey with testicular cancer.
What I didn’t know at the time was that testicular was the #1 cancer for men aged 15-35, and is often referred to as the ‘young man’s cancer’. In every cancer seminar I went to, I was always the youngest patient by 30 or 40 years. I felt alone. In this isolation I struggled with thoughts like ‘will any woman ever love me’, ‘will I ever have kids’, ‘am I going to survive this’. I was diagnosed a second time four and a half years later at age 23, and the feelings of isolation and fear of these questions only got worse. For 7 years, I told almost no one about my cancer. I didn’t want to be judged or pitied, or be seen as that ‘cancer boy’.”
Sadly this path of isolation is one that many men go down, but that’s where Oneball steps in.
Oneball is, in a word, ballsy. We use humor and fun events to help men open up – but we’re not just fun and games. We fund life changing research, we help pay the over $6,000 of medications not covered by our health care, and we provide critical information in a relatable way – like talking to a friend.
So why does this appraoch work? Well, if you ask any woman, they will tell you that men are bad at, at least two things: 1) asking for help and 2) taking care of themselves. Why? Because of things like pride or awkwardness… and this is part of why men are 50% more likely to die from cancer than women. By using this playful approach, we shatter the stigma so that men can feel comfortable reaching out to an organization that understands them, and avoiding the feelings of isolation and fear that this disease can bring.
Since being declared cancer free in January 2016, Chris’s personal motto is that “it takes precisely zero balls to make a difference”. “Making a difference doesn’t require a tremendous amount of courage, or the physical presence of balls” he says “making a difference is a choice”.