Each November, just take a look to your left or your right and chances are you’ll see a family member, friend, or co-worker sporting a new, fuzzy addition just below their nose.
This is likely a result of their participation in the Movember event – a month-long awareness and fundraising campaign around men’s health which encourages its Mo Brothas and Mo Sistas to either start moving more, or grow a mo in an effort to ‘change the face of men’s health’.
Currently, men’s health is in a state of crisis, with men dying on average six years earlier than women, and for largely preventable reasons. Unchecked, prostate cancer rates will double over the next 15 years and testicular cancer rates have already doubled in the last 50, making it the most common cancer in young men.
These facts, along with the general noise around the Movember cause, were what gave Asset Manager, Jim Young at Meandu Mine the motivation to head to the doctor three years ago and get a routine health check up.
Like a lot of men, his general health was rarely a thought or consideration that crossed his mind.
“Apart from a few broken bones and appendicitis, I have lived a healthy and active lifestyle. At 73 years old, I’m still working and I love life, so up until that point, I really hadn’t thought about it,” Jim said.
Little did he know, that routine check up would be life changing and, most importantly, life saving.
“When I decided to go to the doctor, there were no signs or symptoms of any health issues, but my gut feeling was to seek advice.
“They ran a biopsy and found a benign tumour on my prostate – from there the specialist provided me with two options: do nothing or have surgery. I went with the surgery, after which they ran some tests and found it was only a matter of time before the cancer became aggressive, so my gut feeling was right.”
After a six hour surgery, Jim was discharged from hospital in two days with no discomfort. But he wasn’t out of the woods just yet, with some rehabilitation challenges ahead.
“The hardest part of the experience was training to get the waterworks back to normal! It involved plenty of pelvic exercises and it took a long time, but it was all worthwhile,” he said.
Jim believes the most valuable lesson from his health experience was the confidence he gained from trusting his gut and going to talk to his doctor.
“My lesson was that after a certain age, men should be going to have regular check ups with their doctor. Do not wait,” he said.
Another lesson Jim learned was that a contributing factor to the men’s health crisis is men’s general inability or unwillingness to communicate their issues, whether that’s physical or mental.
“I think lots of men feel they’re invincible and don’t need help. Men can also be afraid or ashamed to talk, as if that makes them less of a man,” Jim said.
“They try to tackle and solve everything by themselves but they forget they have loved ones who want them to be around for a long time. By taking the step and speaking to your doctor, you get peace of mind if there is no issue, but you also get early intervention if there is one.
“Seeing my doctor is the best thing I did for my family.”
As someone who has faced a very difficult health challenge, Jim has some advice for men who are looking for ways to approach any issues they might be facing.
“Talk to someone – a best mate, wife or partner, or any family member. Don’t be afraid, because it will be the best thing for your own health and for the people that love you.
“A quote that I think holds true is: ‘Family is not an important thing, it’s everything.’”
For more facts about prostate cancer, click here.
For facts on testicular cancer and how to check yourself, click here.