Brayden shares his story in the barber chair.
Your health is worth it.Image by: Supplied
Brayden shares his story in the barber chair.
2 November 2022

Brayden’s Story: Looking out for the lads in your life

6 minutes read time

Having lost his dad to prostate cancer, Brayden joined us to share his story on men’s health and how, with the help of his mates, he is working to change things for the better.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Brayden Eckert, I’ve just turned 25 and I’m a born and bred Queenslander. I’m a proper Brisbane boy and have spent most of my life there until recently relocating for work. I’m both a registered nurse and a registered paramedic so I could be moving somewhere new again before I know it!

What do you think are some of the challenges facing men and their health today?

Where to start? I think the stereotypical Australian way of life is one of the biggest challenges to men’s health. The classic, laconic, “she’ll be right” attitude is a pillar of Australian culture and is one of the great aspects of our society. However, this also means that lots of men place their health and well-being on the back burner. The quintessential Aussie bloke is always chilled out, kicking back and he never seems to have an issue with his health. That’s probably because the stereotypical Aussie bloke doesn’t go get a check-up at his GP and he certainly doesn’t talk about his physical or mental health with anyone else.

Why do you think the Movember message is so important?

Because it might be that one little nudge in the right direction that saves someone’s life. Even if that nudge is in the shape of a handlebar moustache! Movember creates opportunities for everyone to get involved in changing things for the better. Whether it’s a casual conversation, donations, volunteering, or even just promoting the idea that men’s health is important; it can all make a whole world of difference, it can save lives.

Can you tell us a little about your family and your Dad?

I’m one of the luckiest people in the world when it comes to family – we’ve always been very close-knit as we didn’t have relatives nearby. My Dad, Brenton was a huge part of my life because he had a way of making our small family unit so much larger through a group of very close and connected family friends. He was truly a ‘larger-than-life’ figure, and he had such an overwhelmingly positive impact on so many people’s lives. He was wise and knowledgeable about all sorts of weird and wonderful things.

He was a rock-solid voice of reason and excelled in his career making several impressive contributions to his work in respiratory science and medicine. However, he was also just a big kid, overflowing with good humour, displayed a playful attitude to all things and had a serious love for Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Combine all of this with a razor-sharp wit, a dash of eloquence, and boundless time and energy for the people around him; I think he was the best Dad I could have ever asked for.

What was he like and what did you love about him?

He always made time for people no matter what. Whether it was school, sports and anything in between, no task was too big or too small for him to support my brother and me. Once he had passed, I realised that the thing I loved most about him was the fact that he genuinely always wanted to help. Despite his cancer diagnosis meaning that he lived on “borrowed time”, he was always more than happy to share that time with the people around him and make a positive impact with it. 

Can you tell us about your Dad’s diagnosis and what your reaction was to hearing the news?

I was too young to understand what was going on when Dad was first diagnosed with prostate cancer. I remember visiting Dad in the hospital after his prostatectomy not understanding why he was there at all. By the time I properly understood what cancer was, it had become a normal part of everyday life for our family but, was always in the background and you just had to work around it.

Could you tell us about your Dad’s battle with cancer?

Everyone’s cancer battle is different. My Dad’s was a long, slow, drawn-out slugging match for the most part, but then at the bitter end, it changed gears and was all over in the blink of an eye. Throughout his cancer journey, he had numerous surgeries, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and a few experimental medication trials thrown in for good measure. He was constantly see-sawing between being in remission to cancer rearing its ugly head again. As time went on there was a gradual deterioration in his overall health and condition, but he was still the same old Dad I knew and loved.

It was honestly a bit tedious towards the end as it seemed like for every prognosis of two years or six months my Dad would just swat it aside and keep on moving forward. However, all good things must come to an end. One day my Dad developed a pathological fracture in his leg as a result of his bone metastases. He was supposed to go into the hospital for a quick trip, get routine surgery to repair the leg, and be walking out the front doors to come back home in a week or so. Unfortunately, he never properly recovered from the surgery and was unable to come home.

Over the next 2 months, we watched him rapidly deteriorate until he finally died aged 56. The sudden decline in my Dad’s condition is never an enjoyable thing to remember, but when I think about the rest of his fight I’m always filled with pride and admiration. He fought tooth and claw so that he was able to see my brother and me graduate school and to be present for our 21st and 18th birthdays respectively. He was given many grim prognoses for years before he finally passed away, so I’m always truly grateful that he was able to be around in our lives for as long as he was.

What’s the main thing you’d like the public to take away from your Dad’s story?

Early detection is the key, and prostate cancer isn’t just an old man’s disease! My Dad could have potentially received treatment much, much earlier if he had gone for a check-up, and all you need these days is a quick blood test. Instead, he thought that he was far too young aged 45 to truly have to worry about prostate cancer. I can guarantee that I won’t be waiting until I’m 50 to have my prostate checked, I’ll liaise with my GP around 40 at the latest.

What is your message when it comes to men’s health?

Your health is worth it! You only get one body, so you deserve to have it in as good of a condition as possible! This goes for physical and mental health - There are far too many men dying far too early. Taking that simple step to talk to a friend about your mental health or to have a general check-up with a doctor can make all the difference in the world and can save you or a loved one from dying needlessly. If we all appreciate that our health and well-being are worth it, we can make a positive difference in this world.

You took part in Movember last year, how’d you go?

My team The Fellowship of the Top-Lip started with a group of ten mates with a goal to spread awareness and help the men in our lives think twice about their health and well-being. We thought we might hit $1,000 in donations if we were lucky! By the end of the month, we had an official group of 24 members with several unofficial supporters growing Mo’s in solidarity and we ended up raising a whopping $6,219! Our message was simple, ensure you are “looking out for the lads in your life”. I started the team in honour of my Dad, and from the very beginning said that if our team’s efforts make just one person think twice about their health and well-being then we have achieved our mission.

Brayden has truly captured the essence of Movember and we are so proud to have such a wonderful advocate for men’s health. Whether this is opening up to a mate, checking your testicles, or going for a prostate cancer check, looking after your health can be lifesaving.