A fun event for a serious cause

Movember rocked Cayman last month when a motivated group of moustached men raised money for the Cayman Islands Cancer Society.

Though the Mo Bros and Sistas had a blast throughout the month, the cause that the event supports is serious.

In addition to funds, Movember aims to generate awareness about men’s cancers, particularly prostate and testicular cancer.

Dave Bennett is a dedicated Mo Bro whose commitment to promoting male health results directly from his own experiences with testicular cancer.

Though Mr. Bennett only recently became involved with Movember, he has been promoting male cancer awareness for years.

‘For the last four years I have been doing cancer awareness talks with the schools, which has been great,’ said Mr. Bennett.

‘With testicular cancer, it affects men from age 16 to 45, and then pretty much from 45 onwards [the main concern] is prostate cancer.’

Though testicular cancer is not as common in the Cayman Islands, prostate cancer is widely prevalent in the Caribbean.

‘The Caribbean has one of the highest rates of prostate cancer as a region in the world,’ says Christine Sanders, director and chief operating officer of the Cancer Society.

The biggest problem, Mr. Bennett explains, is that men generally refuse to have regular checkups.

‘Girls are really good at going to the doctor when there is a problem,’ he pointed out. ‘They’re good at checking themselves and they talk to each other about these problems, whether its breast cancer or ovarian cysts…Guys don’t. We say ‘Oh, I’ll go to the doctor another time,’ and we just do not go, especially if it’s an embarrassing part of the body – we certainly won’t go then.’

Mr. Bennett said his diagnosis was completely unexpected, and that it was not until much later he realised how high his risk of testicular cancer was.

‘If my mum had known about the risk factors, she would have told me about it when I was much younger and I would have detected this at a much earlier stage,’ he said.

‘That’s why I’ve spent some time actually teaching some of the kids in the schools to be aware of the condition and what to check for.’

Early detection is the key to preventing the development of male cancer but, as Mr. Bennett explained, getting men to visit the doctor can be very difficult.

‘Obviously you’re not going to tell your boyfriend or husband to … watch out for symptoms of prostate, like kids we’re going to do the exact opposite,’ he said.

‘So you have to be a bit more subtle at how you go about it.’

Nonchalantly leaving pamphlets about prostate or testicular cancer on the coffee table, for example, is a more inconspicuous way of encouraging men to get checked out.

Partners could also perform mutual cancer checks.

‘There are ways to bring it up and not panic the guy or turn him off,’ added Mr. Bennett.

Movember was another great example of spreading awareness about testicular and male cancer.

A few hundred people attended the final Mosquerade Ball at ‘Mo’garitaville’ and Mr. Bennett said he was proud of the display of interest.

In total, around CI$30,000 was raised for the Cancer Society, though an exact figure has not yet been released.

‘To see that many people taking notice and putting their input into these things, again, it’s great.’

He was keen to emphasise, however, that more needs to be done to encourage men to have routine cancer screenings.

‘There are pink ribbons everywhere, which is great, but the guys need to catch up with that.’

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