To Celebrate Father’s Day, we’ve put together a list of inspirational men who’ve lived with cancer. All of these men have handled their cancer diagnoses in different ways. But in each case, we’ve been blown away by the courage, humour, and strength that they’ve shown.
From journalists to athletes and actors, read on to discover our picks for the most inspirational men living with cancer.
1. Michael C Hall – Actor and Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Survivor
Known best for his roles in the hit TV series Dexter and HBO’s Six Feet Under, actor Michael Hall was diagnosed with a type of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the age of 38. The diagnosis came suddenly while Hall was shooting Dexter’s fourth season. Hall kept the diagnosis hidden until filming finished and only began chemotherapy once Dexter was over. He later announced his diagnosis publicly. Hall accepted 2010 Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards wearing a black hat over his bald head – a choice which drew attention to the realities of living with cancer. Hall has since become involved with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and he makes our list for devoting his time and energy to worthy cancer causes.
2. Ian Toothill – Everest Climber and Bowel Cancer Patient
Ian Toothill is a 47-year-old personal trainer from London and he was diagnosed with bowel cancer in June 2015. Although he successfully overcame the initial diagnosis, Toothill was recently told that the cancer has come back and that it is terminal. Determined to achieve a lifelong goal of climbing Everest, Toothill persevered, and reached the summit on 5 June this year. On his Twitter account, Toothill wrote, “For those who suffer daily because of cancer, I climb for you…For those who can’t face the day, and struggle with the nights, stay strong and know this: you are never out of the fight.” We love the way Ian is working to boost awareness about bowel cancer – and to raise funds for MacMillan Cancer Support. He’s currently at £29,000 and counting.
3. Colin Powell – Former US Secretary of State and Prostate Cancer Survivor
Colin Powell is a four-star United States Army general and former US Secretary of State. Powell was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2003 at the age of 66. The diagnosis didn’t come as a surprise, however. Powell says that he was well aware of the risks of prostate cancer, and had committed to regular checkups. After measuring his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels closely for several years, a biopsy eventually turned up positive. Powell had his prostate removed and has been healthy ever since. He makes our list for his careful, proactive attention to his cancer risks, and his diligent commitment to regular check-ups and tests.
4. Steve Hewlett – Former BBC Radio 4 Presenter and Oesophageal Cancer Patient
Steve Hewlett was the longtime presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Media Show. A well-loved radio character, and frequent media contributor, Hewlett chose to face his diagnosis and treatment as openly as possible. He wrote beautiful, thoughtful accounts of his cancer journey for The Guardian in a series called “My Cancer Diary” – giving honest details about his treatment routine and side effects with plenty of humour. Steve’s courage and openness helped to start a discussion about living with cancer, and he makes our list for the incredibly graceful way he handled his cancer journey – right up until his death, at the age of 58, this past February. We’re so sorry to have lost Steve, but we are equally grateful for his contributions to journalism and to cancer awareness.
5. Thomas van der Plaetsen – Olympic Athlete and Testicular Cancer Survivor
Thomas van der Plaetsen is a 26-year old Olympic athlete from Belgium. He’s also a cancer survivor. While preparing for the Decathlon and training hard for the Rio Olympics, van der Plaetsen won a bronze medal at the World Indoor Championships in 2014. This success quickly turned sour, however, when van der Plaetsen received a letter from an anti-doping agency. Van der Plaetsen’s levels of HCG were registering extremely high. HCG is a hormone that is used by some athletes to mask other steroids or hormones that they are taking. When doctors discovered high levels of HCG in van der Plaetsen’s body, they thought it meant he had been doping and trying to cover it up. But van der Plaetsen knew that he had been training honesty and had not taken drugs. Further tests eventually showed that van der Plaetsen had testicular cancer. Treatment happened quickly, and the athlete underwent surgery and chemotherapy. Despite a bumpy recovery and many hard days, van der Plaetsen recovered quickly enough to be able to compete at the Rio Olympics in 2016. We’re pleased to report that he placed 8th overall.