Taking Care of Your Mental Health
- TV broadcaster Terry Bradshaw, 74, has battled bladder and neck cancers.
- After facing these challenges, Bradshaw said he was diagnosed with depression, and therapy changed his life.
- A stressful life even can bring up many emotions, and our experts agree that seeking mental health treatment can help you cope with those feelings.
- Treatment could include traditional talk therapy, medication, changing lifestyle habits (like exercise and diet), seeking out a support group, or many other approaches.
- Bladder cancer develops when cells that make up the urinary bladder start to grow and eventually develop into tumors. It is highly treatable when caught in the early stages of the disease.
- Bradshaw then was diagnosed with Merkel cell carcinoma, is a rare type of skin cancer that often develops in older people on your face, head or neck.
TV broadcaster and two-time cancer survivor Terry Bradshaw said mental health therapy changed his life after he was diagnosed with depression, and he’s urging other men to fight the stigma of talking about their feelings.
Bradshaw, 74, made a career showcasing his might on the football field having played for the NFL during the 1970s and 1980s and earning multiple Super Bowl championships. He’s now a football analyst highlighting the big plays of the week.Read More
“One of the major reasons why men do not talk about mental health with one another is because it’s seen as a sign of weakness…I have told men don’t be ashamed to ask for help.”🔊#TerryBradshaw with @JayGlazer on why men do not pursue mental health 📺https://t.co/slUe2frLHc📺 pic.twitter.com/bc2jYpi7D7
— FOX Sports Radio (@FoxSportsRadio) April 15, 2023
“I finally had such a massive breakdown and I sought help then they diagnosed me, and I went ‘wow,’” Bradshaw said.
“This is the greatest moment in my life. It’s one thing to feel bad, it’s another thing not to know why you feel bad, and we all want to know why and that was a great moment for me,” he continued.
Bradshaw is speaking out hoping to encourage other men to be more honest about their feelings.
“Once you have experienced depression, panic attacks and you seek help and you get help, you’re so overjoyed with the fact that there’s something that can help you be normal and feel good, you asked yourself why I didn’t go to the doctor sooner,” Bradshaw said.
“Don’t be ashamed of this, go to the doctor and seek help, especially if you want to, in some cases, control it or prevent it,” Bradshaw said, acknowledging that men may sometimes choose bravado over showing vulnerability.
The football icon revealed that his willingness to speak openly is already having an impact. He recalled a moment when a simple trip to the grocery store demonstrated he was using his celebrity to connect to men in need.
“I’ve had men in a grocery store, slide up to me while I’m pulling a can of beans off a shelf and pretend they’re looking through it, and said, ‘hey, I appreciate what you said about depression, I’ve suffered through that too and I’ve gotten help’,” Bradshaw said.
Seeking mental health help, especially after a cancer diagnosis or other stressful life event, can be extremely helpful. In these situations, people may react with a range of different (and quickly changing) emotions. This is completely normal.
Our experts agree mental health treatment can help you manage these emotions. Psychiatrist Dr. Lori Plutchik says this could mean traditional talk therapy, medication, changing lifestyle habits (like exercise and diet), seeking out a support group, or many other approaches.
Terry Bradshaw’s Cancer Journey
Terry Bradshaw, 74, shared details about his battles with two forms of cancer last October. He was diagnosed with bladder cancer in November 2021.
Bladder cancer is the fourth-most common cancer among men, but women get the disease too. It develops when cells that make up the urinary bladder start to grow and eventually develop into tumors.
“Bladder cancer is one of those cancers that you don’t hear about too often,” Dr. Jay Shah, the cancer care program leader for urologic oncology at the Stanford Cancer Center, previously told SurvivorNet.
Bladder cancer can often be detected early because the main first sign of the disease is hematuria, or blood appearing in your urine. This blood can change the urine’s color to orange, pink and, in some extreme cases, dark red.
Bladder cancer is highly treatable when detected early.
Bradshaw underwent surgery and other treatment before being declared cancer-free.
Months later, Bradshaw was undergoing an MRI for neck pain when doctors discovered a tumor in the left side of his neck. A biopsy later confirmed it was Merkel cell carcinoma.
According to Mayo Clinic, Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare type of skin cancer that often develops in older people on your face, head or neck.
Merkel cell carcinoma tends to grow fast and spread quickly to other parts of the body. The tumor may be skin-colored or shades of red, blue or purple and may be painless.
He underwent surgery, followed by radiation therapy, to treat the disease.
Bradshaw’s side effects included swelling in his face from the radiation. The cancer warrior shared a bit of his cancer journey in a Sept. 29, 2022, Facebook Live video.
“This side of my face is partially numb… It’s gonna take a while,” he said in the video post.
A few weeks later, Bradshaw was back on air fulfilling his pre-game hosting duties as an NFL analyst. During the segment, he spoke openly about his cancer journey.
“In November, I was diagnosed with bladder cancer. I went to the Yale University Medical Center — surgery, treatment. As of today, I am bladder cancer-free. Alright, that’s the good news,” Bradshaw said.
More on Mental Health
- ‘I’m a Work in Progress & That’s Okay,’ Writes ABC Meteorologist Ginger Zee In New Book, ‘A Little Closer To Home;’ What Cancer Patients Should Know about Mental Health
- ‘It’s Okay to Ask for Help’ Says Cancer Advocate & ‘House of Gucci’ Star, Lady Gaga, 35, as She Talks about the Importance of Mental Health
- Actress Katherine Heigl, 43, Says Anti-Depressants Saved Her Life- How To Take Care of Your Mental Health
- Cancer Survivor and Actor Stephen Fry, 64, Details Life of Crime Before Near-Fatal Drug Overdose; Star Opens Up About Mental Health
Bradshaw went on to share his skin cancer diagnosis with concerned fans who saw him lose his breath during a television segment a week earlier.
“Folks, I may not look like my old self, but I feel like my old self,” he concluded. “I’m cancer-free, I’m feeling great. And over time, I’m going to be back to where I normally am. So I appreciate your prayers and your concern.”
Prioritizing Your Mental Health
For some people, especially men who feel constrained by societal pressures to maintain a sense of constant strength, opening up about mental health struggles may carry with it a sense of shame or guilt.
That’s why people like Bradshaw using his celebrity platform and influence to speak openly about seeking treatment for his mental health can help shatter the stigma surrounding the topic.
WATCH: Breaking the Cycle 5 Signs of Depression
There’s nothing to be ashamed of seeking mental health support. It’s a brave and empowering thing to do, and it is important to realize you are not alone.
“Between 2019 and 2021, the percentage of American adults overall who said they’d sought and received any mental health treatment over the past year rose from 19.2% to 21.6%,” according to the National Center for Health Statistics at the CDC.
Dr. Scott Irwin, Director, Supportive Care Services at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, speaks about depression in people battling cancer.
He says, “Depression is a really interesting topic, because a lot of people assume that, oh, they have cancer. “They must be depressed. That’s actually not true. 85% of patients do not get what would be considered a clinical depression. 15% do.”
Dr. Irwin continues, “For prescribing medications for depression in the context of cancer, I often try to choose medications with the lowest side effect profile.”
Mayo Clinic lists some steps to cope with the stigma surrounding mental health treatment.
- Get treatment
- Don’t let stigma create self-doubt and shame
- Don’t isolate yourself
- Don’t equate yourself with your illness
- Join a support group
- Get help at school
- Speak out against stigma
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