Real Men is a podcast on a mission to inspire the world to reconsider what men are capable of. Ordinary guys with extraordinary stories. Stories of boldly facing the challenge of caring for their loved one with cancer. These guys are "the experts" not because of fancy titles or academic degrees, but because they've been there, done that.
Episode 17 - Trevor Maxwell
Trevor launched Man Up to Cancer on Jan. 1, 2020, to help men connect and avoid isolation during their cancer journeys. A husband and father of two teenage daughters, Trevor has been living with stage IV colorectal cancer since March of 2018. He is a writer, speaker, and community builder with a background in newspaper journalism and public relations. Trevor is incredibly grateful for the support of the cancer wolfpack! Howl!!
Episode 16 - Bryan Piatt
While standing in the kitchen of his Fargo home around the age of 12, Bryan had a thought pop into his mind that caused him to question who he is at the core. Little did he know at the time, that it was an early sign of his struggle with anxiety and OCD. A little over a year ago after experiencing panic attacks on live television, Bryan decided to shift his role as a news anchor at KARE 11 in order to make his mental health a priority. Today he remains a producer at the NBC station and is also the co-founder of the Refresh Network where he holds open and honest conversations about mental health. We discuss our suspicion that many caregivers “push through” very treatable mental health disorders but they become unable to when faced with the stress of caring for a loved one with cancer. We also discuss how he copes with uncertainty (a theme in every caregiver’s life) as a major challenge with his OCD is excessive ruminating. He unpacks for us each tool in his mental health toolkit and shares his fundamental strategy of coping which is to allow his thoughts, emotions and sensations in the body to be part of the ride - rather than trying to push them away.
Episode 15 - Sean Breininger
Described by his caregiver as a “mystic”, Sean’s been stripped down to nothing. He’s lost his job, he’s infertile, and he often can’t take care of anyone or even play with his daughter. In our conversation he asks himself, “if he is nothing to this world, is he worth the dignity and the resources it has to offer?” His answer will inspire you! Diagnosed at the age of 32 with a rare condition called Fanconi Anemia, cancer is a “no end in sight” reality for him, his daughter Maya, and his spouse/primary caregiver Allison. He’s had cancer of the gums, throat, tongue, bladder, and over 150 occurrences of skin cancer. He’s experienced over 10 years of treatment and literally thousands of appointments including a bone marrow transplant, having his tongue rebuilt from a flap of his arm and the removal of his bladder and prostate. His wife Allison, inspired by her experiences with Sean, created a blog and online community for caregivers called The Negative Space. As a result of her work she’s become a sought after thought leader and speaker on caregiving. You can follow the their day to day ups and downs on FB and IG at @negspacelife. You can learn more about the caregiving coordination tool that Sean shares in the episode at https://www.ianacare.com/.
Episode 14 - Nick Meysembourg
Nominated for our podcast by his wife Natalie, Nick is just a guy in love with his girls. A Twin’s season ticket holder since 2001, he's also a firm believer that the only things you can control in life are your actions and your attitude. That belief proved very valuable in 2018, when, with their daughter less than a year old, he became a partner in his sales firm and soon after Natalie was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now even with Natalie in remission, cancer is never far from their minds. As an inheritor of the BRCA1 gene mutation the Meysembourg’s are living their lives on high alert.
Episode 13 - Kelly Grosklags, LICSW, BCD, Fellow, American Academy of Grief Counseling
Kelly is an oncology psychotherapist with a fellowship in grief counseling, a keynote speaker, and an accomplished author who’s been in the clinical field of palliative care and hospice for 25 years. She’s witnessed hundreds of deaths, including her own mother’s when she was 11 years old. Her mom had collapsed from a massive heart attack as they shopped for groceries, she helplessly watched as CPR was administered. They spent 3 months in the ICU before her mom ultimately died in the hospital as a result. She was even teased at school because her mom died! These experiences built her resiliency muscles, informed her caregiver perspective, and taught her that end of life care must be done well. Recently she’s shifted the focus of her work to sharing the lessons she’s learned from the real experts, her patients. She believes the dying have the most to teach us about how to live. And she enjoys sharing those lessons through her book, “A Comforted Heart”, “Conversations with Kelly” events and podcasts, and training other therapists to specialize in oncology where many more experts are needed.
Episode 12 - Damon Shoholm
Mr. Shoholm is from an African American and Cherokee father, and a very Scandinavian mother and family. Which meant as a child growing up in the 70s that where he was also from was not from much acceptance. Never quite enough of one community to be considered entirely from that community. That led him to having this record playing for him that he was “always almost good enough”. But prior to attending the James P Shannon Leadership Institute he was largely unaware that was how he was feeling. As a participant of the program, he didn’t feel worthy of it. And now, one the accomplishments he’s proudest of is that he is now leading that very same program! His ability to be fully present with people in meaningful spaces is what defines him. His work is about helping people discern what it is that defines or outlines them as their best self. Helping them show up with energy and interest as they deploy their gifts for the world. Helping them decide what their core values are and understand what they require of them. We discuss with Damon how caregivers can start their journey toward better alignment and show up as their best selves. He shares practical tips for experiencing renewal and we get to imagine ourselves as one of his 9th grade soccer players as he gives us his 'locker room' pep talk as a coach on staff at Washburn High School in Minneapolis
Man up to cancer/Trevor Maxwell
Thank you for highlighting the work of Man Up To Cancer and Trevor Maxwell . The men in the group , including myself , are living beyond cancer . Trevor is a great example of redefining what manning up to cancer means in the lives of these men .
All men should listen.
You don’t have to be a caregiver to listen. I would encourage all men to listen. Get an idea of the lengths people go to for their spouse. As a new caregiver for my spouse this spoke to all of my early concerns and frustrations. This gives men the opportunity to have genuine emotional conversations with other men.
A great resource Men and a great listen for anyone
It’s about time men had a resource like this to help them get their head around what being a caregiver means. To help them understand how important that role is. How manly it is. And to help them realize that they’re not alone... loneliness is a huge epidemic among men are caring for a loved one with cancer and Jack’s is taking a huge bite out of that loneliness...if you listen to these podcasts you’ll understand how!