Movember is the new November. The month of the Grey Cup, Remembrance Day, when most of the world stupidly changes their clocks back an hour, and of course, all those big, beautiful, bushy moustaches.
Yes, November is becoming better known as Movember, when men around the world grow their moustaches to generate awareness and money for men’s health issues such as prostate cancer.
I understand that with few exceptions, moustaches have fallen largely out of favour as a fashionable expression of masculinity. And really, this is mostly a good thing, although there is the occasional man who looks delicious with a well-groomed, well-placed healthy ‘stache. Despite this occasional exception, the moustache largely fell out of favour for a reason.
Men aren’t known for being very good at looking after themselves. They avoid doctors like the plague. They typically have a better maintenance schedule for their truck than they do for their health. They are often scared of needles and any lab technician will tell you men faint at the sight of their own blood 10 times more often than women do. Vitamins are scoffed at – unless those vitamins come inside a rare steak and a cold bottle of beer. Dentists are there for crisis management only, chiropractors are quacks, and massage therapy is a city service wives aren’t supposed to find out about.
If any of that sounds familiar, then you will also know that men avoid acknowledging the very real fact that they have a prostate gland. And all of this is relatively humourous until we realize that this testosterone-fueled shame is literally killing the men that we love.
Prostate cancer claims 4,000 lives annually in Canada – over 1,000 lives more than car accidents. One out of every seven men will develop the illness in their lifetime and one out of every 28 men will die from it.
And since we’re in the vicinity, let’s talk a little bit about colon cancer, which 23,000 Canadians are diagnosed with each year. This cancer is very treatable and 90 per cent preventable if detected early, yet 9,000 victims will likely die from it in 2012.
Why all this needless death? Because we are embarrassed that we have an ass. That’s the bottom line here folks, and it would be hilarious if it weren’t so tragic.
So, let’s talk a little biology and anatomy. (I might lose my card in the Proper Women of Canada Club for this, but I don’t think I was a member in good standing anyway.) We ALL poop. Even women. All women. Young, old, sexy, thin, fat, single, married – we all poop.
It’s bizarre, but our society seems to promote the idea that women need to deny the very existence of flatulence and waste elimination.
And yet, we’ve pulled neck muscles straining to see exactly what our behind looks like in a new pair of jeans. We moisturize it, we tan it, we tattoo it, and we sometimes decorate it with lace, leather, and latex. We spend hours working out trying to sculpt a perfect ass, but we steadfastly refuse to admit anything ever comes out of it.
Men are just the opposite. They will talk about poop like it’s a miracle they were single-handedly responsible for creating. Size, colour, length, girth – men are often eager to describe in explicit detail exactly what came out of their ass. But they’d sooner go to war than acknowledge that anything can go INTO it.
The naked truth is that we all have an anus, a rectum, as well as bowels that need to be voided. Men also have a prostate gland and that little gland puts the “sea” in semen – it’s responsible for adding the nutrients and fluid to the sperm. Without the prostate, all those little swimmers would dry up and starve.
You know the joke about men having another brain below the belt? It’s sort-of true. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland wrapped around the urethra, (the tube that carries urine and semen out of the body through the penis) and it has a left and right lobe just like the brain. It’s located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum, and it can start growing cancerous cells.
Men age 40 and over need to start considering this fascinating little gland, and they might want to bring it up with their physician. There are two ways to screen for prostate issues. The first is a simple blood test measuring PSA levels. The second is a digital rectal exam (DRE) where a doctor will insert a gloved and lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the prostate for any abnormalities.
Men: listen-up. This is not a big deal. If you can brag about the size of your massive post-Thanksgiving poop, you can handle this, I promise.
Colon cancer can be screened for too, and the women aren’t going to like this part. (Men, you might love it!) You have to take a very small sample of the poop you pretend you don’t have. This test will screen for blood in your feces, which can be an early warning sign of cancer. Your doctor will send you home with a little kit and it’s easy. Better yet, it’s easily hidden – only your doctor will know your secret.
Many lives could be saved by early detection and treatment, and more research is needed. If you know a man brave enough to grow a moustache for this cause, please consider donating to him by looking him up on Movember.com.
Life is so short, and we have such little time on this Earth. Let’s not make it any shorter than we have to simply because we’re afraid of our own asses.