Cape author’s inspiring talk on living with cancer

Before a gathering of more than 50 in our church’s sanctuary on January 29, Cape Elizabeth author Trevor Maxwell told what it is like to be diagnosed with cancer, what it is like to be a man to withdraw from the diagnosis and pull away from family and friends, but most importantly, what it is like to find a way to overcome the low point and deepest depression of your life.

Trevor should know. This is his story.

For more than an hour, through his own words and reading excerpts from his book, “Open Heart Warrior Spirit: A Man’s Guide To Living With Cancer”, Trevor delivered an inspirational message that clearly hit home, in some way, to everyone in attendance.

Trevor has been living with stage IV colon cancer since 2018. He has undergone five surgeries, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and a clinical trial.

“I didn’t know how to face the mental struggles. Most guys don’t let you see their pain,” he told the group. “But I now realize that if I didn’t go through the darkness, I wouldn’t have seen the light.”

The light, Trevor explained, was understanding that people just need you to be there — family and friends — and love you.

Right around Christmas of 2018, Trevor said he was struggling to get through his mental health issues. He read from his book, “My identity was shattered and I could not imagine any possible way to get back.” That’s when Trevor’s wife, Sarah, told him, “Things have to change. This is a nightmare. My worst nightmare. I feel like even if you survive cancer, we are losing you.”

Trevor said to her, “The thought of not being here for the girls (daughters Sage and Elsie) is killing me. I can’t do this. I can’t get over it. If I die they’re going to remember me as sick with chemo, with tubes from the surgeries, lying on the couch all day. I’m afraid they’re going to remember me as sick.”

After a moment of silence, Sarah told Trevor, “I’m not worried they’re going to remember you as sick. I’m worried they’re going to remember you as sad.”

Trevor told the group, “That was the sledgehammer moment. Sarah saved me that night.”

That moment led Trevor on a path to the Dempsey Center in South Portland, an organization that, Trevor said, “wrapped me in love”. “We all need help,” he continued. “It’s not a weakness. It’s a huge show of strength to show you need help.”

Through his experiences and relationships at the Dempsey Center, Trevor founded Man Up To Cancer “as a purpose-driven company and support community that inspires men to avoid isolation during the cancer journey”.

If you’re a guy, you aren’t supposed to show weakness,” he told the church group. “Man Up has 2,000 members. We support each other every day. No judgment. Just support. True brotherhood. To be of service to others is the most precious thing you can do.”

After his talk, a reception was held in Fellowship Hall and Trevor signed copies of his book for another hour.

It was an eye- and mind-opening afternoon.

Thank you, Trevor, and best thoughts and prayers on your continued journey of having hope and spreading that word.

For more information on Man Up To Cancer:

CEUMC Lay Leader Steve Hill introduced Trevor to the church gathering — Trevor had been a student of Steve’s at Greely Middle School.

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