The evening of Oct. 31 is the inception of a gradual process in which I slowly transform into a werewolf. As a competitive player in the “No-Shave November” since I started taking part in my high school’s competition, I view Halloween less as a terror and more as the day my legs begin to grow … well … hairier. I will boastfully display the emerging forest beneath my leggings to anyone who dares to sneak a peek during the month of November.
Giving the male community the opportunity to show off their masculine features — aka their ability to grow an impressive beard — also gives them a sense of pride. Many prostate cancer organizations take advantage of men’s competitive natures and utilize “No-Shave November” as a promotional tool for awareness.
If society celebrates a man who wears pink to support his mother’s fight against breast cancer, then nothing will hold me back from honoring the memory of my father by embracing a traditional symbol of virility.
Despite very similar breast and prostate cancer statistics for women and men, respectively, the cancers receive very different degrees of support. According to the American Cancer Society, about 40,290 women in the United States are expected to die in 2015 from breast cancer, and about 27,540 men from prostate cancer.
But breast cancer receives disproportionately more government funds, as well as “about twice the number of grants as prostate cancer,” according to the American Cancer Society.
Fall colors of red, orange and yellow are often outshone by bright pink ribbons and T-shirts during the month of October, especially on Elon University’s campus.
But do you know what the prostate is? (It’s a gland surrounding the neck of the bladder releasing prostatic fluid.) Do you know the official awareness month for prostate cancer? (It’s September.) Do you know what color represents the disease? (It’s blue.)
Among cancers, breast cancer is the second-highest cause of death for women (behind skin cancer), and, among cancers, prostate cancer is the second-highest cause of death for men (also behind skin cancer).
In fact, as Cancer Network reports, “A large retrospective analysis of men treated for prostate cancer since 2005 suggested an increase in the number of intermediate and high-risk cancers diagnosed between 2011 and 2013,” but breast cancer death rates have been decreasing since 1989.
Why the difference? Many attribute the success of breast cancer awareness to a longer history of involvement. Others point to a difference in psychology between the sexes, as women tend to share their emotions more willingly, while men shy away from discussing their health. My father’s theory?
“I bet breast cancer awareness started when a sick woman’s sister’s cousin was overwhelmingly compassionate to the situation. Most men with prostate cancer probably shrug their shoulders. They have to deal with cancer, why would they try and start a revolution at the same time?”
I applaud the strides of women activists involved in breast cancer awareness, and, quite frankly, boys, girls rule and boys drool on this one. I don’t want to encourage unfriendly competition of awareness and funds among men and women.
Instead, I support periodically uniting causes with similar components to compliment and strengthen one another. Ladies, could we help the guys out on this one? Joining hands while promoting awareness of these cancers will draw more attention and increase awareness more than each effort can on its own.