In this episode of the "WE Have Cancer" podcast, Lee talks with Joe Bullock about his personal experiences with colon cancer and the creation of groups to help men share during their cancer diagnosis, treatment, and after-effects of survival.
From getting his diagnosis and how cancer impacted his relationship with his wife to creating the Howling Place group, Joe talks about the sense of isolation and the loss of personal identity many men go through when dealing with cancer. This is a must-listen episode for men struggling to find their place, their feelings, and others they can talk to about their cancer diagnosis, treatment, and even the aftermath of survival.
Joe Bullock is one of the founders of the Howling Place, along with Trevor Maxwell. After being diagnosed with colon cancer in 2018, Joe was not only able to make it through his journey but become a counselor for men dealing with their own cancer diagnosis and the trauma the disease leaves with those it touches.
Table of contents:
Chadwick Boseman's death from colorectal cancer
Lee talks a bit about Chadwick’s untimely passing and how it relates to his own personal life and battle.
Introduction of guest Joe Bullock
Lee introduces Joe and some of the work they’ve done together, as well as their shared experience with colon cancer.
Joe’s colon cancer diagnosis and his support network
Joe opens up about originally getting diagnosed and how his wife, an RN, was on top of things from a clinical perspective while he struggled with the emotional side of his colon cancer diagnosis.
How Joe and Trevor Maxwell came together to form the Facebook group
Joe talks about getting the all-clear from his doctors and the delayed emotions that came with it. He also discusses meeting Trevor and the foundation of the Howling Place Facebook group in an effort to help other men to not isolate and feel alone in their cancer diagnosis.
You had an identity before cancer and the wolfpack mentality
One of the most important but less-often talked about points is people losing their identity when they’ve had a cancer diagnosis. Joe and Lee talk about how the feeling that a cancer diagnosis encompasses all of life and instead, taking the time to remember the activities, and hobbies you enjoyed before in an effort to restore your identity.
Men opening up emotionally
Lee shares an experience of noticing men typically weren’t at conferences or meetings because they felt awkward about sharing their feelings and vulnerabilities. Joe and Lee talk about how the Facebook group tries to combat this problem by creating a more male-focused space where guys can open up and be vulnerable together.
Emotional fatigue as a moderator and counselor
Lee pointed out Joe often takes the time to be a counselor for others and how the emotional drain many go through, both as active participants and for those that struggle to find their place in groups.
Joe’s impact on a pediatric cancer patient
Through a connection at Colon Town, Joe was able to help a pediatric cancer patient and his family who was in town. That included an encouragement-card drive that brought at least 1,000 cards of support through his treatment.
The death of Joe’s father and others, and how they provided grow and guidance
Through the hardship of helping his father pass from cancer despite their strained relationship and the passing of others in the community, Joe was able to come out on the other side with a more meaningful understanding of how being a pillar of support could help him and others while becoming his purpose and passion.