Culturally, socially, interpersonally, and even intra-personally, men are held to a laughable standard of the ideal male. I bet you’ve heard, “He’s the strong, silent type.” “Real men don’t cry/wear salmon/eat avocados/[fill-in-the-blank]…” “Stitches are for wimps. Pass the masking tape.” Men do this to themselves, and to each other. Society often acts as if all men are wearing tights and a cape underneath their work clothes and know the location of the nearest phonebooth. We might not actually require a hero at the moment, but should the need arise…
The reality is not so heroic. Men die earlier than women, they are more often injured on the job, less likely to take the time to heal properly, more likely to conceal injury or pain, and they avoid doctors. If a man won’t go to the doctor for stitches after he’s cut himself at work, how likely is he to go willingly for a complete health check up?
Men’s general attitude today about prostate cancer is about where women used to be in talking about breast cancer. They didn’t …and they died. It’s happening with men and cancer.
This is Movember. A portmanteau created by combining ‘moustache’ and ‘November,’ this charity’s stated aim is “To change the face of men’s health.” In particular the focus is cancer, specifically prostate and testicular cancer, but all cancers in general. These numbers are bad, gentlemen. Prostate cancer is first among types of cancer diagnosed, and second as a cause of premature death. Early detection and diagnosis followed by effective treatment is vital. Just as with breast cancer, early detection raises the chances of recovery by a significant margin. This means yearly screening after age 35, regular health check ups, keeping weight within 10% of ideal, and some form of exercise 3 to 5 times per week. I promised I wouldn’t mention that other serious health risk, but that’s a no-brainer. (Think, “puffing”)
Women tend to look after themselves. They go to the doctor, ask for help when they need it, and generally, are pretty good at managing health-related issues. The same cannot be said about men, as a rule. They simply don’t pay enough attention to their own health. This is equivalent to the hero cape being in the wash. You won’t have it when you need it.
Gentlemen – man up. Make an appointment for a complete health check up THIS month. Plan to follow the doctor’s advice and get healthier. This world needs all the potential heroes it can get. You might also want to be a ‘Mo Bro’ and sport a groovy ‘stache for the month.
*P.S. As of 2011, Canadians were the largest contributors to the Movember charities of any nation. Go Canada!
A Canadian psychologist traveling the world on a busman’s holiday, Dr. Susannah writes about anything that catches her attention. Bossy from birth, compassionate by choice, and funny by accident. You can visit: www.soorcenter.com or follow her on Twitter @drsusannah.