Movember On My Mind

Modern life can be all about failure, or the avoidance of it. From an early age we are urged to work hard to pass tests and get high scores. We start adult life with qualifications and often go on to gain more. People who fail are drop-outs, losers or just plain lazy. But in the most part, we feel we have control over our passes and failures and we men are told that if we just man-up we’ll achieve that demanding requirement. Real men never fail.

If we go to the hospital it’s because we did something too hard or too fast, it’s not because we were lazy. Lazy men don’t get scars, they just get fat and weak.

Signs of failure...

So a diagnosis of prostate cancer which for many men comes as they are starting to slow down physically (though not in their mind - we are all still at the peak we were at in our twenties, right?) is a sign that our body is failing. Sometimes the first sign of prostate cancer is erectile dysfunction, which for many of us is the ultimate embodiment of the failure to be a real man.

And then comes the treatment and worse still the side effects. Erectile dysfunction, incontinence, weight gain, and mood swings are all on the roster. If the mood swings are not caused by the drugs then they’ll most likely be caused by the mental impact of the treatment. While surgery doesn’t have the risks of even fifty years ago it’s still pretty brutal to rip out the bit that’s causing the problem and toss it in the waste. “That part is finished, Sir. We can’t replace it - you’ll just have to do as best you can without it.”

The time to talk is now

I know a man who doesn’t talk about his prostate cancer, or rather the after effects of it. He’s a real high flyer, on the main board in his country for a global business. He hasn’t told his children, who are now in their very late teens. It was his wife that told me. She knew about my diagnosis and she knew about my openness. He won’t talk to her about his ED, but she talked to me. She cares that he has ED, but it hasn’t changed the way she thinks of him.

The funny thing is that the more I talk to people about prostate cancer the more I find that we pretty much all have the same feelings about the way our prostate cancer has affected our lives. That has changed my perspective on the impact of cancer to men. I can now see that my prostate cancer was not the result of me failing at a test that I didn’t even know I was sitting.

Men looking out for other men

I’ve come to the conclusion it's not individual men who are failing, it's all men. We don't talk about the things that trouble us, whether it's mental health or physical health. We don't, therefore, support each other at all well when we are ill, whether physically or mentally. Is it any surprise that men often have such poor health outcomes when we are so bad at looking after each other? We need to change this, fast.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy. We never sell or share your email address.

More on this topic

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.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.