Going Commando: Why Men Are Ditching Their Undies For Prostate, Bowel And Testicular Cancer
If on 7 March you notice your male colleagues looking a bit more relaxed around the trouser area, that may be because they’ve decided to shun the undies drawer and go commando for a day, to try and raise awareness for prostate, testicular and bowel cancer.
As part of a new campaign, the charity Male Cancer Awareness Campaign have created a day called “Going Commando” (Part of the Balls Out Challenge) to stem the embarrassment that men feel when talking about health issues.
Men taking part will be wearing a sticker to invite people to ask them about it and so in this way, they hope to spread the word. On the celebrity front going Commando is, TV personality Keith Lemon and Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson will also be taking part.
The HuffPost caught up with CEO Patrick Cox to find out more.
What is the campaign about?
The campaign is designed to get men, their friends and their partners engaged in talking about male cancer, we are trying to reduce the embarrassment that men face around the early warning symptoms. Underwear, pants, briefs, boxer shorts, cover the three main areas that our charity deal with prostate, bowel and testicular cancer.
These cancers are all curable, if caught and treated in the very early stages. Going Commando has always had a bravado to it and the majority of people still see it as embarrassing thing to do, dirty or ballsy. The campaign is looking to reduce embarrassment and give confidence.
Most men are too embarrassed to talk to a doctor. When early detection and early treatment of these cancers provides the best possible outcome.
Why do you think men are reluctant to talk about health issues?
Just look at the differences between the sexes. A woman finds a lump, she will confide in a friend or even ask that friend to have a look/feel. That is a no-no for men. We call it the Neanderthal effect – “Nothing wrong with me/It will go away/Don’t tell me what to do“. It’s a cultural divide and it’s something that only time, investment and campaigns like this will overcome. Awareness and education is key.
What type of cancer(s) are you trying to raise awareness about?
The ones that pants cover: prostate, bowel and testicular. These are cancers that are curable right now. But only if they are caught and treated in the very early stages. It’s madness that an emotion such as embarrassment is killing men, and that men are too embarrassed to speak medical advice or talk more openly about it.
Despite the serious subject matter – there are some really humorous things in there such as ‘adopt a bollock’. What was this in aid of?
Cancer is deadly serious, but we’re dealing with men. It is very easy to frighten men when talking about cancer. Also men are not interested in a two-sided awareness leaflet.
We sell the positive! We are the UK’s boldest, most daring most innovative charity for a reason, so we don’t make awareness campaigns just to be funny. We make awareness campaigns that are in your face, campaigns that are directed at men that they can share with their friends.
We are the frontline in the fight against cancer. Awareness and education are the two most important punches that can be thrown in the fight against male cancer. Our awareness campaigns have saved lives and continue to do so. That’s our job.
HOW TO CHECK YOUR BALLS:
Is there anything you’d urge men to do in terms of looking out for symptoms?
Each cancer is different. Listen to your gut, if you really feel you think something just isn’t right, act on it. Go get it checked out. Our body has a great way of telling you something is not right. Women are far better at this that us men.
Don’t be too embarrassed to speak to a doctor about it, they have seen it all before. More often that not, these symptoms are nothing, it could be a common cyst, piles or infection. However prostate, bowel and testicular cancer are cancers that are curable right now, today. But only if they are caught and treated in the very early stages.
Thinking that symptoms will go away or simply being too embarrassed to seek medical advice is the reason why cancer mortality stats read how they read. It’s the reason why women fare better in the fight against cancer. What the campaign is trying to change is that embarrassment is a silly thing to die from.