OK, time for a pop quiz!
- When you see a pink ribbon, what do you think of?
- What is the name “Susan G. Komen” connected to?
If your answer was “Breast Cancer,” you’re correct!
Now, what is the ribbon color associated with prostate cancer? And what are the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer?
I know what you are thinking. “Prostate cancer? Isn’t that something old men get? Why do I need to care about THAT?! (and what the heck is a prostate, anyway?!”)
I know – throughout most of my life, I couldn’t care less about prostate cancer either. I am a woman, a busy one at that, raising a little girl, managing our happy home out in the country, running my own business while doing all I can to take care of myself and stay healthy.
Until last year, on the day I got the phone call.
“Hi, this is your husband’s doctor. We’ve taken a look at the biopsy and there is cancer there. I want to meet with you both to talk about your options.”
That day happened to be our wedding anniversary.
All of a sudden I wanted to know everything there was to know about prostate cancer, treatment options and outcomes. According to the National Cancer Institute, one in seven men will have prostate cancer in their lifetime. Of men who get prostate cancer, 32.8% of them are between the ages of 55 and 64 with 9.3% between ages 45-54 (prostate cancer is considered rare (.5%) in men ages 35-45). These are scary statistics but fortunately, there is a lot of good news about prostate cancer. If caught early, when the cancer is localized to the prostate, the five-year survival rate is 100%. Pretty good odds, right?!
So, ladies, this is where we come in. You know, we are pretty good about staying on top of our health needs, like going in for our annual check-ups, doing our monthly breast self-exams, and asking questions when things don’t seem quite right. It’s what we do.
But what about your husband, your partner, your brother, your father, your friend? How good are they at managing their health? If they are anything like the men in my life, going to the doctor for a check-up is probably last on their to-do list. And, if something isn’t quite right, they are far more likely to muscle through the pain, ignore a pesky problem and hope issues will improve on their own. Odds are they won’t be discussing health concerns with their buddies over beers in the Man Cave.
You might be thinking to yourself “Oh, no. I know what you are going to say. You’re going to ask me to add this to the zillion other things I am responsible for!”
Well…yes. But this one’s pretty easy and important.
Friends, I have two requests:
First – Pay Attention. The prostate is a gland that surrounds a man’s urethra and various conditions can cause the prostate to enlarge, restricting the flow of urine and leading to, among other things, frequent and/or difficult urination. If your husband or partner starts getting up more often during the night to go to the bathroom, suggest he talk with his doctor about it. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cancer but it is something to check out and fortunately there are screening tests available for prostate cancer (source: cancer.org).
Next – Start caring about prostate cancer. As women, we have become an unstoppable force when it comes to raising awareness of breast cancer and raising money to fund breast cancer research and support breast cancer patients. The color pink symbolizes breast cancer awareness on everything from t-shirts to garbage cans. We even convinced professional football players to wear pink, for crying out loud!
And now it’s time to do the same for the men in our life. September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, a perfect opportunity to read up on up-to-date information about prostate cancer signs and symptoms and to share the information with men who are important to you.
As for my husband – he has moved from being a cancer patient to a cancer survivor. From the various treatment options available, we elected to have his prostate removed and were overjoyed when we were told that the cancer had been contained to his prostate. Follow-up testing has confirmed that there is no evidence of prostate cancer in his body. Though my husband will need to be tested for the next 5 years, his doctor is very optimistic and we are so, so grateful we paid attention and promptly took action that has led to this happy outcome.
Ladies, join me in loving the men in your life by helping raise awareness of prostate cancer. Send the above links or simply share this post with a quick note on much you are loving your life with them. It only takes a minute and you could be the force that helps add years to a life that is precious to you.