Happy Father's Day to all the father's in the world. To those who have shown us the way, to those who are now leading those to come, and to those who will someday take the lead, may you be forever blessed with the love of family and abundant health going foward.
I know I am preaching to many choir members here but, men as a group, are often our own worst enemies. We tend of neglect our health more than women, putting off regular visits to the doctor. We often measure our masculinity by all wrong measures. Thus, when it comes to diseases below the belt, many men shut down and shut up. They receive treatment quietly and go on as if nothing ever happened. That is why prostate cancer is often the least talked about cancer even though it is the second most common cancer for men after melanoma.
With such unmanly behavior, we are doing a great disservice to our families, sons, relatives and friends, especially since early detection and treatment delivers a five year survival rate greater than 95 percent.
We are humans. We get cancer. Some of us get prostate cancer. Isn’t it time ALL of us stepped up and more openly said things like “I have prostate cancer…” or “I survived prostate cancer…” or, even “did you know prostate cancer is to men what breast cancer is to women..?” The more we do, the more we can help change the landscape of this disease and save lives.
Believe it or not, I once heard of a man who actually said, ”What business is this of my son’s? I’m not going to tell him I have prostate cancer.” While I can sympathize with the potential awkwardness of such discussions, I have to counter with, “Excuse me, you provided a piece of genetic code that may someday affect your son and his family.”
I’ve made my point. Now I offer a solution.
This Father’s Day and throughout the summer at family reunions and gatherings, make it a point to open the discussion and help make prostate cancer something to talk about. Share family histories and personal experiences. Like our breast cancer sisters clad in pink, don our blue colors and wear a ribbon. By passing it forward, you’ll be helping so many other men and their families by letting them know they are not alone and making future diagnoses easier to understand and cope with.
I admit that working for the Prostate Cancer Foundation, made it easier to go public with my experience and start this blog. After directing communications messages that we need to talk more about this disease, I readily saw the moral imperative. But every man can start in a small way with a simple phrase and short but frank discussion. Find the opening line that works for you. Easier yet, just forward this post to friends and family member as a starter.
Consider this: with nearly 2.5 million American men and their families currently living with prostate cancer, if each man spoke with just three people, 7.5 million discussions would take place. If those three talks turned into three more, an additional 22.5 million would get the message for a total of 30 million. It’s a very small yet important investment to help those you care about.
We must move forward. Surely, we can “man up” to this challenge