Opinions

Grow a ‘stache, not a tumor

OPINION

My grandfather died from prostate cancer. He spent six months in agony as the cancer spread through his body, taking its time to kill him.

He was from my dad’s side of the family and never once grew a moustache.

My grandfather on my mother’s side looks like an old black- and-white French film star with his well-groomed lip hair.

He was diagnosed with prostate cancer as well, but caught it early enough that he didn’t need chemotherapy.

Is it possible that my French grandfather was saved a painful death because of his moustache?
Most likely it had nothing to do with facial hair, and more to do with the prostate check he has had every year since turning 45.

With the advent of Movember, a November moustache-growing event to raise awareness and funds for men’s prostate health, the connection between moustaches and prostate cancer has been cemented in my brain.

The moustache has a stigma to it that is both comical and extremely serious. Kind of like getting your prostate checked.

If you’ve made a joke about a kind doctor with a soft touch and sterile glove that asks you to turn your head and cough, you’ve picked one of the most invasive options for assessing your prostate’s health.

You can avoid the digital exam (emphasis on ‘digit’) by getting a ‘PSA’ done according to the Canadian Cancer Society.

PSA is short for prostate-specific antigen. It’s a simple blood test that rates your risk of developing prostate cancer.

It’s easy to make jokes about rectal exams, but there isn’t anything funny about prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, with an estimated 24,600 new diagnosed cases in Canada for 2010. The good news is that only 4,300 will die from it.

In 2009, Canadian men raised $7.8 million for Movember, the second largest sum in the world, only falling behind Australia. Men are gradually erasing the stigma of prostate cancer by becoming informed and getting tested.

As he enjoys a round of daily retirement golf, my living grandpa says he felt his best while he was recovering from the prostate cancer. And he says this while absent-mindedly stroking his mo.
The grandpa who died of prostate cancer spent his life on a farm. Back pain, muscle aches, razor burns and general discomfort was the way he lived. When he had some trouble peeing, he figured it was just another part of life and ignored it until it was too late.

Of course, most male SAIT students (not all, because there are plenty of distinguished gentleman attending classes here) don’t need to worry about this yet. But you will.

So for now, you can help by erasing the stigma. Grow a ‘stache this Movember.

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