From Bubba Nicholson, Mo Bro since 2006:
In 2007, one of my best friends and new rugby teammates was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He had it for six months, but hadn’t talked to any of us about it. When we found out he was diagnosed, we all thought ‘How can we as guys in the change room not talk about this? How did we not have a simple conversation about not feeling well, emotionally or physically?’ We saw each other three days a week. We talked about everything else in the change room. So why hadn’t we talked about this?
After his diagnosis, we all started fundraising for Movember, and created a team with our Rugby players and friends to support him and to start having those conversations. He overcame cancer in 2016 and went into remission. He seemed to be getting himself back on track but while the cancer was gone, the pain from mental health issues was not. After some complications, he ended up taking his life.
Less than a year later, another friend of ours killed himself. I think back to a bar room speech I gave, asking everyone to look to their right, then look to their left. If they ever had thoughts of taking their life, they were to pick up the phone and call those two people. I asked everyone in that room to make this a pact. I’ve come to the realization now that what I had naively assumed was a simple pact is in fact so much more difficult for someone with deep-seated emotional and mental health issues.
I grew up in a generation whose houses bury mental health and emotional wellness under the foundations they’re built on. It created a culture that we feed by the language we choose and by not talking about important stuff. Until we change the culture, we will continue to lose those we love the most.
The only thing we can really do is to talk and share. The basics of Movember are the conversations we have with each other—what we share and when we reach out, how we support our friends and family, and how we support the men in our life through conversation—breaking down the walls, breaking down the barriers that stigma creates, and having real, deep conversations to stop men dying too young. That’s why I do Movember.
First published in Movember Australia