Earlier this year, an Ohio man named Bruce Wayne made headlines for eating at Chipotle for a record-setting 500 days in a row. But now the real-life Batman is taking on another challenge -- spreading awareness about men's health.
Wayne -- and yes, that is his real name -- recently spoke with ComicBook.com about this new chapter of his story. For Wayne, this latest journey is a personal one that started even before the end of his epic Chipotle streak.
"Never once did I get tired of the food." Wayne said of his Chipotle record. "And in fact, one of the questions I get asked a lot is 'Did you like the queso?' I'm very happy to say that I like the queso, and I'm glad other people didn't, because every time I went in there was always some for me. But the only reason I stopped my run was because I got sick, and at the time my condition was slowly worsening, and it wasn't a question of being tired of the food. It was a question of being physically able to arrive to get it."
It turns out that while Wayne was making headlines dressing as Batman and spending a lot of time at Chipotle, he had also developed prostate cancer. It was that sudden change in health that changed Wayne's journey as well.
"My troubles started the end of last year," Wayne revealed. "I knew something wasn't right when I would go to urinate, and I felt pressure, and along with that pressure was pain. This took place over about three days where I did the typical man thing initially -- cranberry juice, garlic tabs, cranberry tabs, etc. And after three days I was like, 'Know what? I can't ignore this, I can't sit this aside. I have to go to my doctor.' And that started the journey I'm on now."
That journey included a serious cancer diagnosis, but it also led him to an opportunity to make a positive impact. Recently, for his final chemotherapy treatment at Cleveland Clinic, Wayne decided to suit up as Batman, as a way to lift the spirits of his fellow cancer patients.
"It was a celebration and a gift at the same time." Wayne explained. "Because my previous five visits, you're looking into a place where people are going in some shape or fashion to be given poison in an attempt to prolong their life, and [there's an] inherent sadness that you see among the patients and staff members. There weren't any smiles. There wasn't any laughter. And I thought, 'Well, you know what? I know how to take care of that.' And I walked in that day and I left the same way -- like a boss."
But as it turns out, showing up as Batman to chemo ended up having a much larger meaning. Wayne said that people were surprised and inspired when he took the suit off and sat down for treatment, revealing to others that even the mighty Batman could have cancer. For Wayne, that sends a powerful message.
"In true Batman fashion, he doesn’t give up," Wayne said. "That, to me... no matter the money, no matter the gadgets -- which are cool, by the way -- the house, the money, everything. His superpower is that he does not give up. And so I won't."
He's also not giving up on using his unique opportunity as a real-life Batman to help spread the message that it's important for men to seek medical attention when they need to. According to a 2017 Cleveland Clinic survey, men often don't share their health concerns or issues. 32-percent indicated that they don't share their issues with family to avoid worrying others while of the few who did discuss the health issues, 65-percent do not talk to their own fathers about annual health exams -- exams critical to helping catch and diagnose issues early.
For Wayne, that lack of conversation has roots in what he says is men's need to be seen as strong. He hopes that by sharing his experience, people will come to understand that there is strength in admitting something could be wrong.
"I think men need to be seen as strong, and that's part of the problem. It's okay if something is wrong to go see your doctor, and it's even better to tell other people about it, because therein is a sort of therapy." Wayne explained. "So, what I would hope to impart is that if there is something wrong, something internal that hurts, that can not be taken care of by anything other than a doctor's visit, go. Don't hesitate."0comments
He also hopes that his story will give people hope.
"That word can mean so many different things to whatever struggle people are going through," Wayne said. "Whether it's the people around you, whether it's the people with you, your doctor, your family, your friends, significant others. I want to be able to give people hope that there is more. You are more than your sickness, than your diagnosis."