Prostate Cancer, Movember, and Remembrance Day

Posted November 11, 2019 by Maire in Events, Movember / 1 Comment

The clinical and economic burden of prostate cancer in Canada is substantial, and is rising. Studies indicate that 1 in 7 men will develop prostate cancer during their lifetime, and another 1 in 27 will die because of it. It is estimated that 4300 Canadian men will die of prostate cancer in 2008. Age, family history, race and diet are all risks associated with the development of prostate cancer. A diagnosis of cancer carries a significant burden and like other cancers is a cause of significant anxiety and depression. Uncertainty regarding the value of screening for prostate cancer has been, and continues to be, a challenge for primary care physicians and urologists.

The Burden of Prostate Cancer in Canada,
Yves Fradet, MD, FRCSC, Laurence Klotz, MD, FRCSC, John Trachtenberg, MD, FACS, FRCSC, and Alexandre Zlotta, MD, PhD, FRCSC

I used to joke that it’s a good thing the Husbeast is five years younger than me. After all, men often die an average of five years before their same-aged spouse, so I should have companionship all the way to the end, right?

Well, it’s not much of a joke. The reality is that men do die younger than their partners. Prostate cancer, testicular cancer and untreated mental health issues leading to suicide are all contributing factors.

Prostate cancer awareness and Movember

I became aware of the Movember movement through a former co-worker. His father was fighting prostate cancer. J went all-in. He shaved off his distinctive facial fuzz and walked around the office with an actual tin can, asking for donations. He even urged some of the other departments to create their own teams and compete for the most dollars earned.

I’ve been a Movember supporter in one way or another since 2012, at least. I participate in honour of my Grandfather.

On November 11th, I like to think of my Grandfather Don

RCAF Corporal Don S. and friend, Rupert BC.
RCAF Corporal Don S. (left) and friend, Rupert BC.

The handsome guy on the left in that sepia-toned photo is my Grandfather, Don. He was a WWII vet stationed in western Canada as an MP during the war years. He would have loved to fly, but his colour-blindness made that impossible.

My Grandfather was very proud of his service to our country, and was an enthusiastic supporter of the Canadian Legion. He also enjoyed fishing and amateur radio.

When I think of the places my own traits come from, my Grandfather is the one who accidentally fostered my affinity for computers. Amateur Radio in his time was more than just taking a license so you could talk on international frequencies. You also had to know a minimum words-per-minute of Morse code, and be able to complete some fairly complex electronics schematics. This is now arcane knowledge attributed to early computer nerds.

HAM Operators: Early computer nerds

I guess it makes sense as HAM Operators have also been early adopters of other electronic technologies. We may not have had an Apple computer growing up, but that’s only because Steve Wozniak didn’t build in a Morse code translator. My Grandfather purchased a Commodore Vic 20 purely because someone made a translation program. Then he gave another Vic 20 to my Mum (another HAM) with the hope that they could try the program together.

Well, the translation program was a lot slower than either my Grandfather or my Mum’s own code fluency. Instead, both computers became a way to entertain my brother and I. If we weren’t playing Frogger, we were plinking away at keys, trying to code music in BASIC. Unfortunately, our typing skill generated more syntax errors and frustrated tears than actual programs.

We’ve come a long way since 1993

My grandfather, Don S, in 1990
My Grandfather in 1990

My Grandfather passed away in 1993. The doctors thought it was prostate cancer, but they couldn’t be sure since it moved very quickly. Many cancers at that time went undetected until the last minute. Cancer’s sneaky. It doesn’t always have recognizable symptoms.

We’ve come a long way since then. Like breast cancer screenings for women, men of a certain age are requested to come in for regular testing. In some cases, it’s extending their lives well over the five year mark. As my Grandmother passed on a full eight years after her husband, this would have made a phenomenal difference in her life.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve seen even more friends and family members affected by prostate cancer. The study abstract at the top of this post shows just how frequently it occurs. Do you know seven men? Chances are pretty good one of them, and/or one or more of their male relatives, has or will be affected by prostate cancer.

Movember moustache style guide

It’s also important to note that Movember isn’t just about the family jewels. Mental health, particularly for men, is often overlooked. Cancer treatment often includes or suggests some form of therapy as patients often see improvement with a postitive attitude.

Even more important is mental health on a daily basis. information from the Movember website indicate that men are more likely to commit suicide.

What can I do?

I really do boggle at folks who are hyper-organized like the Yarn Harlot. Her fund-raising skills for Tricoteuses sans Frontières and her annual bike rally are truly awesome. As a socially-awkward GenXer, I go into flail mode when someone asks me to organize anything more difficult than a birthday party. Even then, I’d rather be off in the kitchen baking the cake.

Movember Supporter badge

I have three patterns for sale through Ravelry. From now until the end of November, if you make a donation of $5 or more via my Movember fund-raising page, I will give you a code for one free pattern. That is, if you’re a knitter. All you need to do after you donate is leave a comment down below with your Ravelry name.

I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to raffle off any stashed or crafted items at this time. Some day in the future, perhaps, the Husbeast and I will finally get around to sorting through all our books and put aside a few of the less-battered duplicates that folks might actually want to receive. No promises until that actually happens 😉

If you’re not a crafter…make a suggestion? Is there a post you’d like me to write? A book you’d like me to read and share opinions on? I’m open to suggestion 🙂

FYI: If you want to take me up on that free pattern coupon, I can only track your contribution to Movember if you donate using my fundraising site. When you make a donation using that link, it sends me an email.


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