As we edge closer and closer to the end of the year, Movember, a month long campaign dedicated to the awareness of some of men’s biggest health issues is upon us. While this is a year round focus, it’s specifically in November that the moustaches come out in full force, men and women alike are encouraged to set fitness goals to achieve and events are hosted (dinner parties, sports tournaments, music gigs – you name it) to raise funds for this worthwhile cause. Our men are dying far too young, and we’re ready to step up and talk about it.
Kiwi men are battling their way through prostate cancer – arguably New Zealand’s most commonly diagnosed cancer that has a 98% chance of survival beyond five years if detected early, testicular cancer – most prominent in our young men aged 15-35 and mental health and suicide prevention with this shocking revelation: 3 out of 4 suicides in Aotearoa are men.
That last statistic is heartbreaking yet invites room for growth and change. In an extract from the book of former All Black Sir John Kirwan (who was knighted in 5 years ago for his contributions to rugby and mental health awareness), John writes: “For mental wellness, you probably need to behave a bit differently from how society is telling you to behave. Society is saying go fast, and mental health is saying slow down. Slow the treadmill down.”
We all know of a man in our home, workplace or community who has been affected by one or more of these health challenges – this journey is one of many, and our power is by walking together rather than by toughing it out alone.
For prostate cancer, age 50 is the time to talk to your doctor about whether or not a PSA test (a blood test to screen for the disease) is right for you. However if this illness has affected other men in your family, this conversation needs to be had earlier. For a list of signs and symptoms please click here for further information.
According to the Movember Foundation, testicular cancer “starts as an abnormal growth or tumour that develops in one or both testicles”, and several different types exist. Fortunately there are many treatment options available, and by being proactive and getting clear with what’s looking right or wrong down there, you prioritize your health and well-being for not only the benefit of yourself, but your loved ones around you. Aside from a visit to your local GP, a guide for what to look for can be found here. Alternatively you can call 0800 660 800 to talk to a nurse at Testicular Cancer NZ.
Lastly, to create change, we have to be willing to do some things differently. 70% of men say that their mates can rely on them for support, whereas when that question is reversed only 48% say that they can do the same. It’s easier to be strong and supportive of those we care about, but much more difficult to allow others to give us a helping hand when it is needed. Staying connected is key and regular check ins and catch ups are the way to do it. Sometimes all that is needed is knowing that there’s a friend there to listen and ultimately it can be lifesaving. Make time, listen and reach out if life is getting a bit or a lot bumpy and if there’s no-one you feel comfortable to do so with around you, then the below contact numbers have highly trained professionals who are ready and willing to help you in any way that they can.
Lifeline: 0800 543 354
Samaritans: 0800 726 666
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
All of these services offer counselling and support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – any time is a good time to ask for help. If life is in danger, please call 111 or go directly to emergency services.
“Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi engari he toa takimano.
My strength is not that of an individual but that of the collective.”
- Maori Proverb
Will you be partaking in Movember? We’d love to hear from you if so. Send us an email or head on over to our Facebook page to tell us more and let’s take this discussion further.