Sunday, 16 November 2014

November means: Movember

Last month I wrote a post about breast cancer awareness in which I wanted to  highlight the importance of self examination for both women and men, read that post here. Educating ourselves about our bodies is our front line defence for early detection. After I wrote the post I engaged in some great conversations about the issues I had raised in my post. Furthermore I was asked if I would do a post for Movember. Admittedley it had not crossed my mind. I'm not a big fan of the mo. However having wrote the post on breast cancer I thought why not?  And I know that most my readers are women but I'm sure everyone can takeaway something from this post on how to look out for themselves or the men in their lives.

 Movember is a charity event initiated by the Movember Foundation, which started in Melbourne in 2003 and has since grown worldwide. With the moustache becoming a symbol of men's health awareness. Males sign up to grow a moustache throughout the month of November, without shaving and are often termed Mo Bro's. I always thought that Movember was to raise money for testicular cancer, however it actually is to raise money for testicular cancer, prostate cancer and issues affecting men's mental health. They help to fund projects and schemes put in place to tackle these areas of male health.Often workplaces will hold competitions to see who can grow the best moustache whilst raising money through sponsors. So if you have seen a lot of men walking around looking like they have teleported from the 70s this might be why. 

Thinking Movember was just about raising awareness of testicular cancer I was originally only going to talk about that but now that I am more clued up I'll include both cancers. With regards to mental health I have a whole month of posts planned in the month of January so stay tuned for them.
Novemember is actually the awareness month for prostate cancer, which is the most common cancer amongst males in the UK. Statistics show 1 in 8 men may get prostate cancer. It occurs when abnormal cells appear on the prostate gland, which is the gland that helps produce semen. The gland also surrounds the tube through which urine leaves the body, hence why prostate cancer sufferers or those who have an enlarged prostate may have difficulty with their waterworks. For example, needing to go more often, problems initiating urinating, poor flow or still feeling full once you have finished. This seems to be the most common symptom to look out for although often there might not be any symptoms as only when something is constricting the tube will these problems occur.

It is often (but not always) slow progressing and often contained only in the prostate without spreading to other parts of the body. However there are other types of prostate cancer that spread much quicker. It is most common in men over the age of 50 with the average age being between 70 and 74.

So what should men look out for? As the prostate is internal it is obviously difficult to know whether or not there is a problem. However any symptoms regarding problems with the waterworks then always go and see your doctor. 

Whereas prostate cancer predominantly affects older men, testicular cancer mostly affects younger males. Most commonly between the ages of 15 (yes 15) and 35. Not long ago Channel 4 presented a stand up comedy show presented by Jack Whitehall called 'feeling nuts'. Although the comedy wasn't particularly great (although Simon Callow listing lots of slang names for testies was rather amusing) the show did fulfil it's purpose in raising awareness of testicular cancer and encouraging men to check their balls. It made a change on the normal televised charity drives in that the purpose here was not to raise money but to raise awareness, educate men with all they need to know about examining themselves and what to look out for, inform them where to go if they suspect anything and ultimately to save lives. 
 By arming men with this knowledge they are giving men, especially young men the best chance of beating testicular cancer. 95% in fact. Testicular cancer is one of the most treatable cancers but only if caught in time. Therefore education and self awareness really are key issues that cannot be stressed enough. If you notice anything irregular and act on it as soon as possible then you are giving yourself the best chance. They even used the hashtag #feelingnuts to spread the message even further and especially to engage younger males who may think they are immune. 
They even provided information on how to check and what exactly you should be checking for. For more info I've included a step my step poster from pinterest, below. 
I think one of the important messages is to let young men know that they don't need to be embarrassed. And this is where programmes like 'feeling nuts' can help. But also there are charity organisations that are going to schools and colleges to talk to young men. I was also impressed to know that some work organisations were raising awareness. Even showing their male employees educational videos on self examination. You can watch the show on 4od.
The over all message here is to be aware of our bodies and to take not of any changes. As a chronically ill person I know the value of good health and I know how easy it is to be dismissive of it. So I salute the Movember Foundation and all they are doing to promote men's health. 
Sian x
Information for research for this post was gained from the following websites. Please use the links below if you would like to find out more information.
Images sourced from Pinterest

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