Actor/DJ Scotty Dynamo (aka. Nic) was diagnosed with testicular cancer in early 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of shying away from the diagnosis, Nic and his partner Mike chose to share and document their experience on their social media platforms. Now, after recently hearing the news that he is officially in remission, Nic takes a seat in the barber chair and shares his experience both as a testicular cancer survivor and as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, opening up about what Pride means to him.
When did you realize you were gay? When did you come out? Was there a specific motivation or event that encouraged you to come out?
I realized I was gay when I was a kid (after seeing Chris O’Donnell in Batman Forever) but at the time, I didn’t really have the terminology or understanding to make sense of how I was feeling. It wasn’t until freshman year of high school that I was actually able to piece it all together (thank you, Google).
I initially came out to friends over instant messenger, to my family in person, and publicly/to the world through a music video that aired on my YouTube channel and MuchMusic in 2015. I came out in order to finally accept my authentic self and be truly happy. I continue to share my adventures with my partner Mike on YouTube to help normalize same-sex relationships and to challenge the world’s pre-conceived notions and stereotypes of gay men and the LGTBQ+ community.
Coming out has been an ongoing journey. Whether I’m in an Uber, meeting someone at a party, or speaking with a co-worker, people often ask if I have a girlfriend or ask me some sort of question that forces me to share the fact that I have a boyfriend, so in that sense, I’m continually coming out. These situations constantly test my comfort level with my identity, but I think it’s important to be honest in those moments. It helps make the world an easier place to navigate for the next generation.
What does masculinity mean to you?
As a former college athlete, the men and celebrities that my peers usually idolized were ones who possessed attributes that are stereotypically considered to be “manly”. Traditionally, I feel like men are taught that they need to be strong at all times and that showing any kind of emotion is a sign of weakness. But that’s not realistic or healthy. Life can throw some serious curveballs at you and push even the strongest or ‘manliest’ person to their breaking point. I think everyone should allow themselves to feel however they want to feel and embrace the qualities that are natural to them. Being comfortable in your own skin without caring how anyone else perceives you is the ‘manliest’ quality I can think of. Life’s too short to pretend to be something you’re not. And after what I’ve been through, I couldn’t care less about living up to anyone else’s toxic or warped definition of masculinity.
Being diagnosed with testicular cancer during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, can you describe that experience and your thought process during the course of your diagnoses and treatment?
There’s never a convenient time to be diagnosed with cancer but going through it during a global pandemic was definitely the most challenging experience of my life. At times, I felt like I was starring in some sort of post-apocalyptic movie that I never auditioned for. As someone who never had any previous health issues, it was hard to even process my diagnosis and how quickly it all transpired.
The toughest part about the experience was that the hospitals had strict ‘no visitor’ policies. Like many patients during this time, I was forced to go through surgery, treatments, and consultations alone (and with a mask on). Under normal pre-pandemic circumstances, you’d be able to have a loved one or partner by your side in the hospital for support, to keep you company, and advocate for you and remember to ask the doctors all the important questions.
Walking into my first chemotherapy session alone was terrifying and wearing a mask while being administered a drug that affects your lungs and breathing ability was rough. But the oncology nurses were lovely and did their best to make the unpleasant experience as tolerable as possible. To make matters worse... at this time, Toronto went into a full lockdown. There weren’t very many outlets or distractions available to us and since we had already conquered most of Netflix and it was -20 degrees outside, cabin fever definitely began to kick in. My anxiety was already at a 10 and the reality of being immunocompromised during a pandemic definitely didn’t help. The last thing I wanted was to get sick and delay or complicate my course of treatment in any way.
The glass half-full version of it all is, that by going through a lot of the tough stuff alone I was forced to find strength in myself that I never knew I had. When there’s no one to turn to or hold your hand in a terrifying situation, you have no choice but to dig deep and find the courage to power through it. I think it’s safe to say, I don’t think I’ll be nervous for an audition or job interview ever again! It also brought my partner and family a lot closer together because everyone was required to have some really difficult and uncomfortable conversations. Going through a traumatic experience like this forms a bond that is hard to describe.
You and your partner have both been very vocal about your experience through your YouTube Channel. Why was it important to you to publicize your experience with your followers?
We wanted to share the type of video we wish we had seen when we first got the diagnosis. We recognized that we had a great opportunity to use our platform to raise awareness about men’s health and hopefully prevent someone out there from having to go through the extent of what we experienced. Testicular cancer is very treatable when caught early enough and we want to encourage viewers out there to incorporate self-checks into their weekly routine. For many testicular cancer patients, this is their first major health issue and it completely turns their world upside down. No matter how amazing your doctors and nurses might be, it can be a very scary and lonely place to find yourself in.
A lot of people go online or turn to social media to research and find support through forums and video diaries of other people’s cancer journeys. Your medical team may provide you with the facts and statistics, but they haven’t necessarily gone through any of it themselves. Words can’t describe how encouraging and comforting it is to hear from someone who has personally lived through that entire journey and come out on the other side of it. I recognized that I was lucky enough to have a loving partner by my side throughout this entire experience but that not everyone is fortunate enough to have that kind of support system. My hope is that we encourage and inspire anyone out there to keep fighting and let them know that you can and will go back to living an amazing life after this chapter is behind you. If we can help even one person out there in any way, that’s all that matters.
What, if any, impact did your experience have on your relationship? What did it mean to have your partner supporting you?
Mike and I were already a solid unit before any of this took place but after going through cancer and the COVID-19 pandemic together, it brought us closer than I can ever explain. The experience forced us to have a lot of difficult conversations and display a degree of vulnerability that neither of us had ever had to share before. He took care of me, drove me to and from appointments, stayed on top of my medication schedule, changed bandages, picked up my favourite snacks, and left motivational messages on sticky notes around the apartment, all while working a full-time job and dealing with his own trauma regarding the diagnosis. He’s turned into my own personal superhero. I love you, Mike!
There tends to be a lot of discussion about the physical side effects of cancer, surgery, and chemotherapy but the mental and emotional impact that it can have on an individual (and their loved ones) is often overlooked. It was an absolute game changer to have a loving partner advocate for me and hop on the phone with doctors to ask the uncomfortable questions when I was not in the ideal emotional and mental state to do so.
How did the LGBTQ+ community play a role in your recovery?
The amount of support and encouragement we’ve received from the LGBTQ+ community since we posted our initial video about our cancer journey has been incredibly overwhelming! We’ve received so many lovely messages from individuals around the world who shared their personal stories about their own battles and experiences with cancer. It has inspired us to keep fighting and continue sharing our journey and the next chapter of our lives to (hopefully) educate, connect with, and give hope to anyone out there who might need it! The majority of members of the LGBTQ+ community have faced some kind of adversity in their lives, and I think our journey resonates with people who might be facing and fighting to overcome any kind of challenge.
As for the road to recovery...it has been a really strange experience! After 8 months of pretty traumatic stuff, we were kind of just released into the world until our next round of follow-up scans that were 3 months away. On one hand, we were so excited and couldn’t wait to do all the things we had dreamed of during treatment, but on the other hand, I/we had a lot of emotional baggage and almost didn’t know what to do with ourselves. We’ve taken things one day at a time and thankfully this experience has slowly started to feel like a distant memory.
Did your diagnosis and testicular cancer journey impact your perspectives of masculinity at all? If so, how?
In the cancer hospital, you meet and spend time with hundreds of different types of cancer patients from different age groups, walks of life, and cultural backgrounds. Despite any differences we may have on paper, in that particular setting, we all had something in common. We were fighting for our lives and going through an incredibly emotional experience without being able to have a loved one by our side (because of COVID-19 related hospital restrictions). As a result, it was a reminder that we are all human at the end of the day. We all love, laugh, and cry.
What advice would you give to someone who has been diagnosed with testicular cancer? Is there anything that you know now that you wish you knew before you got diagnosed?
Despite how you may feel, you are not alone! It might be a bit of a journey, but you can and will get through this. Also, don’t be shy. It’s okay to ask for help! Seriously dude, you don’t get extra points for getting through any of this on your own. The doctors and nurses are there to help. So don’t ever feel like you’re being a burden by calling or texting anyone. Be kind and patient with yourself during the recovery process and/or chemotherapy and remind yourself that the side-effects you are experiencing are temporary. For those going through chemotherapy, don’t get discouraged or down on yourself when you start to look like the stereotypical cancer patient that you might see on TV. When you see your reflection, remind yourself that it’s the drugs that are kicking the cancer’s ass and doing their job that are making you look that way, not the cancer itself.
What does Pride mean to you?
To me, Pride is a yearly reminder to pay homage to the brave brothers and sisters who fought and paved the way for the rights we have today. And to continue to fight for equality to make the world a more accepting and safer place for the next generation to come. If this entire cancer journey has taught me anything, it’s that life is too short to be anything other than your authentic self.
Knowing what you know now as a happy out gay male (and cancer survivor), what would you say to your younger self?
Life is so much more enjoyable when you stop caring about what people might think or say! And despite what you’ve been told, you ARE allowed to enjoy watching hockey AND own an NSYNC CD. You might feel alone and confused right now, but one day you are going to start a life with a guy named Michael and he will be the most amazing person you’ve ever met! Also, pay more attention to your doctor when she tells you about the importance of checking your balls on a regular basis.