Overcome (TW: This story talks openly about a suicide attempt.)

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I’ve never really posted anything like this before. Seems like a good place to share my story, as it might help some of you through those tough times. So here it is…

I’m Jake. I’m 28 and have always been a pretty happy, fit, healthy guy. Over the last few years though, the world has tried to take my health away from me. 

Right now I’m fighting throat cancer, laryngeal specifically. It’s been an ongoing battle for nearly a year now. My voice has gone from loud and confident to weak and raspy. I’ve had two operations which both failed, and just finished five weeks of radiotherapy treatment. If this treatment also fails I’ll need a full tracheostomy, or removal of the voice box.  Radio has actually been much harder to handle than I thought it would be. Being right in the middle of my throat, you really can’t get away from the pain. 

I usually stick to a super healthy diet, but since treatment, I haven’t been able to swallow anything but milk and cold noodles for months.  Even water feels like a mouthful of razor blades going down. It’s incredibly frustrating.

It gets better… Only a few months before my cancer diagnosis, I came extremely close to being killed in a brutal motorcycle accident. That hurt. I snapped my spine, broke my leg, popped my lungs. Needed a spinal fusion and everything…  

As all of this happened, my father also suddenly passed away at just 58 years young. So it’s been a rough couple of years.  I’ve been dealing with cancer, a disfigured body, COVID, and losing my Dad. This has all had a huge impact on my mental health. Some days are really hard…

Little fact: Men’s mental health is something scarcely talked about. But did you know 4 of 5 suicides are by men? And 1 in 8 blokes have legitimate mental health issues like anxiety and depression… 

I’ll be raw here. At one point I took myself to sit atop the biggest cliff in my area, thought about how painful existence is, sat there and sobbed, while I heavily contemplated stepping off that edge. I understand this can be uncomfortable for many to think about, and I’ll likely be judged for putting this out there. But screw it.  So many people are lost to mental health battles and if my story can stop one person, then that’s awesome. 

I’m thankful I decided not to give up on this incredible opportunity of life. Sure it gets tough sometimes, but there’s too much good stuff to give it all up.  

I think I’ll smash this cancer.  One way or another.  So I’m done with stressing. All I want to do is inspire, motivate, and encourage others to keep pushing on.  Cause that’s what life’s about!  

They say the hardest struggles are only given to the toughest soldiers… Am I right people?!  Love, light, strength, courage and best wishes to all of you warriors out there fighting the good fight.

By Jake O’Brien