The Many Faces of (and Reactions to) Prostate Cancer
I’ve been to enough health events to spot a pattern in how others react to this disease.
Yesterday I had the privilege of attending a GE Capital health fair for employees and their families in Dallas. It was a huge affair that was held on the playing field and club facilities of the Dallas Cowboys stadium. There were thousands in attendance and I was able to talk to many who had questions about prostate cancer. Of course, many I spoke with were The Engaged–those who have either been diagnosed, have a family member who has been diagnosed, had a scare, or are simply enlightened enough to be proactive about their health, including prostate care. They are also the ones who attended my Prostate 101 talk in the afternoon.
However, it was while standing at PCF’s info table, that I was able to once again observe the various reactions to the topic of prostate cancer. Here is my list of personalities:
The avoiders. This group sees your information and goes out of their way to either sprint past the table or make a big circular detour around the area. They sometimes tempt me to make paper airplanes out of our info sheets and fly them in their direction because I fear they might need the info the most.
The side glancers. This group of men notice the topic and materials but, for whatever reason, can’t bring themselves to stop by, pick up information or ask questions. It’s as if they are afraid that hundreds of folks are going to stop mid sentence to stare and listen in. Believe me guys… for those who can remember that old commercial, this is no E.F. Hutton moment.
The lurkers. These guys will stand at a distance, checking emails, sipping coffee and waiting to be invited to the table. Enough friendly glances will typically pull the majority of these guys in.
The returners. A sub-group of the side glancers. These men have either had time to collect their courage and return or have been able to peel away from their group to return and ask the questions they really want to ask. I am always pleased that they made it back.
The good friend. This guy always has a friend (wink, wink) who might be having prostate problems. I’m glad he is so caring of others and hope the information he receives will not only help his friends but possibly him as well.
The concerned partner. This group of men and women are concerned about their partners who are neglecting their prostate health and not talking to their physicians about the disease. I always try to give them ways to broach the subject and encourage their partners to take action.
The jokesters. These guys can’t wait to stop by and tell stories and jokes about the digital rectal exam (DRE). I always gently tell them that five seconds of mild humiliation or discomfort is nothing compared to what women have to endure at the OB/GYN. I even once had a gentleman come up to me and proudly proclaim that he regularly gives his partner a DRE…I could only reply with… “how thoughtful… but a trained medical professional is really the only one to be feeling around for any abnormality that might indicate tumor growth…”
The brotherhood. These are the patients and survivors who come up to share their stories and offer encouragement to others. Bless them all.
I usually make these observations while noticing that the breast cancer table is mobbed three deep with all sorts of conversations flowing. It’s simple proof that we men still have a long way to go. But, with a new generation of open thinkers coming of age, I am confident we will get there.
Wishing you a good weekend and abundant health.