It’s International Men’s Day (19 Nov) – a global celebration of the positive value men bring to the world, their families and communities. This year’s theme is ‘Making a difference for men & boys’. Being a Dad of impressionable twin boys, this resonates with me. It would be easy to dismiss this as just another celebration day. With an ethos of highlighting positive role models and raising awareness of men’s wellbeing its campaign is to be applauded and wholly supported.
During November, I am supporting Movember’s global campaign by inviting local charities to deliver talks on men’s health as part of my Yoga For Men classes in Keynsham, Bristol. Suicide Prevention Bristol and We Hear You delivered brilliant talks over the past fortnight, raising £220. Both were very grateful for the opportunity to raise awareness with an exclusively male group, when men are so often hard-to-reach for their important, and often life-saving services.
This week, we talked balls. Some would argue that I often talk balls when teaching and in other aspects of my life, but this week it was Its in the bag doing the duty – more precisely talking testicular cancer. It’s in the bag is another incredible volunteer-led local charity that supports men with testicular cancer and raises awareness of the disease to ensure the earliest diagnosis.
Richard, a founder of Its in the bag talked candidly about his own experiences when diagnosed with testicular cancer. As much as he survived to tell the tale, three key stats jumped out at me – the 60 litres of poison that had to be pumped into his body over four rounds of chemotherapy, the £100,000 cost to the NHS and the year off work. The treatment would have been less intense, cost much lower and rehabilitation much quicker had the disease been detected earlier.
Early diagnosis is vital
The most important of all statistics Richard highlighted was the survival rate – 98% of cases are curable and early diagnosis can often mean minimal treatment, with early detection being vital.
It’s in the bag’s aims are centred on three themes:
Support – they provide a range of support to help men and families through testicular cancer diagnosis. This includes free social events where patients and their families to come together and share experiences in a supportive space. Their Survivorship Toolkit provides one and two-day sessions for men specifically affected by the disease.
Awareness – it’s in the bag does a fantastic job in raising awareness. It’s orange branding, underpants logo and ‘keep calm and check your balls’ slogan mean they’re a charity that certainly stands out in a crowd. Its campaigns focus on encouraging men to check their testicles regularly (once a month) and recognise the early signs of cancer.
Survival – As is the case with Richard, men who have successfully overcome testicular cancer often want to do something positive to help other patients or raise awareness to help early diagnosis. It’s in the bag is always looking for volunteers to join its team, so do get in touch.
What to look for
Men are not going to require much encouragement to become more familiar with their balls. A monthly check involves four simple steps:
- Take a bath or shower
- Weigh each ball in your hand
- Roll each ball between your fingers
- Gently does it, those balls are incredibly sensitive!
If you notice a change to the size or hardness, there’s a lump inside the ball or general discomfort, you should get this checked out by GP immediately. Richard highlighted that in 90% of cases it’s nothing to worry about, but getting your balls checked early by a GP is firmly recommended.
On the night, we raised a wonderful £96 for the charity, taking the total raised so far this month for Movember and the local charities to over £500 so far. And there’s still more to come. Next week concludes the incredible programme of talks with Bristol Mind talking mental health. As with each week, the yoga starts at 7pm and is exclusively for men, the talk starts at 7.50pm and is open to all. All profits on the night are donated, so let’s end on a high with a bumper crowd and donation!