Blogger Nick Wright finds out more about the friendships George Hardy has made over the years on our online community and the glue that holds them together.

29 Jan 2015

Bond. Yes that man’s been in the news again with a new film this year, but I’m not talking about 007. It’s part of a phrase I keep hearing. A unique bond.

I’m lucky to be out and about speaking to lots of guys involved in Men United in my role at Prostate Cancer UK – it’s a real privilege. And this ‘unique bond’ is something I’m hearing about so often that I wanted to explore what it is and what it means.

You may remember reading my last blog about Alan Taylor, and when I spoke to his friend, George Hardy, I was bowled over by how warmly he spoke about the friends he’s made because of prostate cancer. That is the unique bond in question. It’s united so many who share similar stories.

George Hardy and Alan Taylor

George was diagnosed with prostate cancer 10 years ago and is an active user on our online community, as well as running his own forum. Through the friendships made on these message boards, many members meet up twice a year for fun, laughter – and maybe just a few drinks. In fact over 80 people attended the meet up in the summer of last year.

I was lucky enough to go along to one of the meet ups in 2011 and it was brilliant. The atmosphere was brimming with silliness, rude jokes and everyone having a whale of a time. George summed it up perfectly when he said: “You wouldn’t think anyone in that room was ill’.

Men and women reach our online community looking for something. Whether it’s answers, hope, guidance, just wanting to vent or needing someone to listen. Yet there’s such a sense of togetherness. Call me biased but I think our online community is fantastic and I hope anyone reading, who may be worried about prostate cancer, thinks about registering.

But I’d rather you take George’s word for it, not mine. George said: “I’ve made some really close friends there. Friends I wish I’d known for fifty years rather than five. I’ve made more true friends through having this cancer.”

That’s a pretty startling statement so I asked him why and up came ‘that phrase’: “It’s just a unique bond. We’re all in a life-threatening place and we really root for each other. I treasure them.”

The friendships I’ve gained from the prostate cancer community are real, genuine, caring and truthful.

Some of these people he’s probably never met or might not ever meet. But that bond cuts through everything.

“The friendships I’ve gained from the prostate cancer community are real, genuine, caring and truthful,” he said. “It’s not just the information we bond on – it’s the treatment, advice, side effects. We know each other’s treatment path. You do your best to be there for people.”

In the years George has been on our online community, he can count 40 men – 40 friends who he’s lost to prostate cancer. This is exactly why, with Men United, we’re doing everything we can to keep friendships alive. But I’ll leave George to say it better than I ever could: “You can be really down and get depressed. But there’s nothing like this community to put a smile back on your face. You can walk in a stranger and walk out like you’ve known people for years.”

 

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