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Ten Movembers: What Have I Learned?

I’m writing this in Australia appropriately enough as it’s the home country of Movember, an organization now so well-known that it’s easy to forget that it only dates back 15 years to 2004. It spread internationally quite fast and hit the UK (my home) and the USA in 2007.

Prostate cancer changed my life

My introduction to Movember came very quickly. As the summer of 2010 grew warmer so did my chances of really having prostate cancer and a need to do something about it. While we had plenty of friends as a couple I’ll freely admit to being a bit of a loner back then. Prostate cancer changed all that. Massively.

I’d always been fairly deft with the keyboard so a few sessions with Google and I found the online patient forum of what is now Prostate Cancer UK. I encountered quite a few men and a couple of ladies, several of whom have become very good friends over the years. The initial support that I received there was exactly what I needed and as my diagnosis progressed there were always knowledgeable, experienced people there to answer my questions and help allay my fears.

Rethinking health

This was the first time my long-term health had seriously been questioned — until then I had very much taken it for granted, like many men in their fifties. Looking back I hadn’t been that unhealthy, but this was more by good luck than good judgment.

That said the support I received nine years ago to lead a healthier lifestyle was very limited; I think that’s changing but I’m not convinced that even now it’s expressed in terms that many men find relevant or accessible. I’m somewhat cynical about much of the ‘wellness’ industry — it’s dominated by women (part of the problem), often younger and frequently with very little basis in science.

We need to look after each other

As important as looking after me, what I also learned is the importance of us all looking after each other. I’ve been lucky enough to do this in several ways. With four others I set up a support group in the city of Oxford, so successful that a local bus company has completely covered a bus with our logo and mission statement.

Taking the message about prostate cancer and all that comes with it has become very important to me so I’ve volunteered with Movember and Prostate Cancer UK to appear on radio and television. It’s pretty challenging to talk about surgery and its side effects into a microphone but I’ve grown to enjoy it. Broadcasters are very welcoming and supportive — very few men want to talk about health matters particularly those as sensitive as ours.

I have a voice

In summary, what I’ve learned is that I have a voice. It’s very easy as a patient to feel that we are just a number on a set of patient notes, a pin-cushion to be prodded and examined but for the future of our brothers and sons we must when we can speak up about our health. They will thank us for it.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • jnickulas
    3 months ago

    Thank you for your important message & continued support. I appreciate it! 💙

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