The following blog has been written by Darren Meade, one of the Leeds Cancer Awareness Project Coordinators. This blog is all about not letting pride stop you from seeing a GP if you notice any unusual changes to your body.
It’s fair to say that it has been a while since I put pen to paper (well fingers to keyboard) and written a blog for our website. In fairness we’ve been lucky to have so many guest writers that I haven’t felt the need. However, we recently held a focus group with a group of men where we were finding out their thoughts, views and opinions on prostate cancer. The conversation led us into talking about how lots of men don’t feel comfortable talking to other men about their health, or rather their ills, because they feel that they may be perceived as being in some way weak or lacking – this simply has to stop.
We literally have men who are dying before their time due to harbouring a sense of pride about their health and not seeking help and advice. Men who would have enjoyed extra years with their families and friends, but couldn’t bring themselves to talk to their G.P about their health concerns for fear that it might, in some way, make them be viewed as less manly.
We live in a cultural environment that puts a ridiculous amount of pressure on men to behave in a particular way, to always be strong, capable, dependable, virile and everything else that helps advertisers to sell their wares. The images that we’re bombarded with daily consist of men who are successful and resourceful. Take the action hero – a staple figure for the past 80 years on screen – here is a ‘leading’ man who never doubts his ability, is always ready to solve a situation with violence if it is required, who is calm under pressure and who never discusses his health concerns!
Now I get that these characters, and the often-ludicrous storylines in which they appear, are works of fiction but still, those messages about what constitutes a ‘real man’ sink in and hit home on many levels. How lovely it would be to see James Bond, just once, pop along to get his prostate checked before heading out to save the world.
The fact of the matter is that we all get ill from time to time be it a seasonal cold, cancer or anything in between and like a seasonal cold, there are many things we can do to minimise the damaging effects of cancer. The main one being seeking a diagnosis and treatment plan as early as possible.
Early detection really does save lives, the survival figures speak for themselves… and yet we continue to see men not presenting with symptoms at an early stage. I know that this can be for other reasons; fear can play a big part in putting off a visit to the doctor. No one wants a cancer diagnosis and the easiest way to avoid that is not to go to the doctor – you’ll still have cancer but it won’t be diagnosed.
Help to reduce the stigma around men’s health by talking about it!
If you experience any of the above symptoms, speak to your G.P. You are not wasting anyone’s time. These symptoms are often caused by other non-cancerous illnesses, but it is always best to get checked and to find out the cause.
“Pride comes before a fall” – this was a saying that I grew up with and understand to mean that if we’re too full of pride and conceit then something will come along to make us look foolish – let’s not let that misplaced pride of ours lead us down a path that we don’t have to walk.
For information cancer in general, visit Cancer Research UK.
For information on male specific cancers, visit Orchid.
For information about ‘Movember’, visit Movember.com
To read other Leeds Cancer blog posts, visit LeedsCancer.com