movember

Letter from the Editor: Movember and Men’s Health

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Each year, I participate in Movember, a movement to help men live happier, healthier, longer lives.

movember 2020

I’m passionate about improving men’s health because of my own personal battles with stroke, hypertension, and heart disease.

In addition, several of my friends and family members have died from some form of cancer.

Cancer Among Men

The leading causes of cancer death among men are

  1. Lung cancer
  2. Prostate cancer
  3. Colorectal cancer
  4. Liver cancer

Younger men are at risk of getting dying from testicular cancer (read this post – How to Conduct a Testicular Cancer Self-Examination)

Most of these diseases are treatable if caught early. Unfortunately, too many men die from cancer and other curable diseases because they are reluctant to go to the doctor.

“Many men lead busy lives and don’t take the time to invest in their health,” said Dr. Robert Robinson. “Taking care of yourself should be your top concern because the people who love you and depend on you need you to be around for as long as possible.”

Studies show that many men don’t get regular health checks for the following reasons (read this post – 5 Reasons Why Men Should Get an Annual Exam):

  • Fear it will lead to a hospital visit
  • Embarrassed to discuss their health issues
  • Find it too hard to see a doctor because they just can’t fit it into their schedule
  • Just can’t be bothered making an appointment

“Men are symptom-driven,” said Dr. Robinson. “If nothing’s hurting they feel as if everything is okay. However, this isn’t the best way to care for yourselves. You must be proactive with your health by seeking regular preventative care. It’s also important to have a healthy diet, get regular exercise, control your weight, and avoid smoking and excessive alcohol.”

My friend, James, who died of colorectal cancer, was one of these men who never visited the doctor. He didn’t want to deal with all of the paperwork and thought going to the doctor was too much of a hassle. If his cancer had been discovered sooner, my friend may be alive today. When found early, the 5-year relative survival rate for colorectal cancer is 90%.

Listen to this podcast I did with the improv group, Can’t Tell Us Nothing, that takes this serious topic and injects a bit of humor.

male companionship podcast

Men and Mental Health

self care practices for men

While it is important to take care of your physical health, taking care of your mental health is equally important. Men suffer from high rates of suicide, depression, stress, and anxiety. 

To speak with someone immediately, contact National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK), contact Lifeline Crisis Chat or contact National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) on 800-950-6264 or Text NAMI to 741741.

If some you know seems to be having a hard time mentally or emotionally, reach out to him using the ALEC model (Ask, Listen, Encourage Action, Check-In) to help you navigate a conversation.

Ask

Start by asking how he’s feeling. You can also mention any unusual behavior you’ve noticed such as failure to respond to messages or phone calls. Use a prompt such as “You haven’t seemed yourself lately – are you feeling OK?”

People often say “I’m fine” when they’re not, so don’t be afraid to ask twice.

Listen

Give him your undivided attention. Let him know you’re hearing what he’s saying and you’re not judging. Don’t try to diagnose problems or offer solutions. Just listen.

Encourage Action

Help him focus on simple things that might improve how he feels. Is he getting enough sleep? Is he exercising and eating well?  If he’s felt low for more than two weeks, suggest that he talks to his doctor.

Check-In

Follow up your conversation with a phone call, text, video chat, or in-person visit to show that you care. Plus, you’ll get a feel for whether he’s feeling any better.

If you’re ever worried that someone’s life is in immediate danger, call 911 or go directly to emergency services.

Read this post, The Barbershop Can Save Your Life, that describes a lifesaving phone call to a barbershop.

Take Action

black men with mustaches

Here are a few ways you take action and can get involved in the movement:

Let’s keep investing in men’s health and fighting to make this word cancer-free.

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