Gentlemen, drop your pants. It might just save your life.

July 30, 2013

I’m on a mission for blokes to drop their daks. I want to hear the clang of belt buckles on the floor.

I want to be the Ambassador of Strides Down. Think of me, and you’ll think of trousers sitting around ankles.

Not in front of Woolies, mind you. No bare bums near the checkouts. We don’t want to scare the kiddies. This is for the medical centre only.

Regular readers will know where I’m heading with this. Newcomers, stay with me. I promise there will be no weirdness ahead. Well, no more than usual.

The reason I want men to be in a state of undress, is so they can get their prostate checked. Yes, I’m banging this drum again.

I beat prostate cancer. Most of you know that. I received the news that I was free of this dreaded disease a few weeks back. A blood test that came back clear. I can tell you, they were the sweetest of words.

It makes you hug those you love, and not want to let go. It makes you cry, when you thought you’d fought off the tears. And it makes you want to celebrate. I did that too.

But my surgeon, The Genius, said something else that day. He said I needed to spread the word. Take a stand, and get the message out there.

About an hour before he made me smile, he’d been dealing with a bloke who had nothing to smile about. His cancer was advanced. He’d been late getting checked. His future was grim. He was 47.

You see, this is not an old man’s disease. More and more men in their forties are being diagnosed. Like me. And the bloke who’s thinking of what might have been.

They tell me 40 is the new 30. And that means most men continue to think they’re bullet-proof. Visiting the doctor is a sign of weakness. So they don’t.

The stories don’t help. Everyone has heard jokes about the snap of rubber gloves in the doctor’s surgery. For most red-blooded Aussie men, reason enough to head in the other direction.

That’s what we have to change. Because that simple, painless, sixty second examination, saves lives. And keeps families intact.

I’ve come to realise that the best people to change the thinking around prostate examinations, are women. Wives, girlfriends and partners.

Females are smarter at this stuff than we are. They get that early diagnosis is vital. So girls, I’m enlisting you to help.

Don’t let up on your bloke. If he’s 40 or older, he needs to be checked. Regularly. No excuses accepted. Book the exam yourself if you have to.

Already, I’ve had female colleagues tell me that they’ve done exactly that, as a result of my battle. Mates, too, have been jolted into action. Getting checked, to avoid what I’ve been through.

I’ll remind you on these pages every now and then. Spread the word yourself. Tell your Dad, or your brother, or your favourite uncle.

Let’s get those pants hitting the floor. And when it’s done, tell the doctor that you would usually wait to be taken for dinner and a movie before such activity. He wouldn’t have heard that one before.

How I plan to kick cancer’s butt. Let the battle begin.

May 28, 2013

The first struggle will be with that stupid hospital gown.

Try as I might, I won’t be able to fasten it properly.

I’ll be the one with the rear section flapping merrily in the breeze. My pimply white bum on show for all to see.

In the scheme of things, it’s not my greatest problem. I have prostate cancer. And the time has almost arrived to go under the knife.

Some of you already know. Others may be surprised. And a few will be wondering why I’m telling you about it.

I’ve pondered that too. Keep it a secret, or put it out there?

If there’s one thing I’ve discovered since embarking on these scribblings, it’s that sharing usually helps. So be it. I’m enlisting you all to be part of the fight.

They found the first tumour late last year, during a routine procedure. A tiny one. Time was on my side.

Back then, it didn’t quite sink in. This was a disease for old blokes.

Everyone had an opinion. Get it out tomorrow. Do nothing. Wait a few years.

Those who mean the most to me became upset. A few offered comfort, by explaining that if you had to get any form of cancer, this was the one. They meant well. And it’s probably true. But somehow, when you have the tumour, it doesn’t help.

My surgeon is the most amazing of men. A gem. So when he decided on one more scan, just to make sure, I had no hesitation.

In the meantime, I got on with things. Did my best to push those dark, nasty thoughts aside. Did I tell you this was a disease for old blokes?

The second lot of results came back. I knew straight away, things were crook. Doc wasn’t smiling. I’m guessing he’s no poker player.

They’d found a second, more sinister blob. Hiding underneath. It’s unusual, apparently. He’d consulted other specialists that morning. All agreed this changed our game plan. The prostate needed to come out. Sooner rather than later.

For the first time, I actually felt like a cancer patient. No more waiting. At no stage had I entertained the idea that this thing might spread. Dark, nasty thoughts.

That’s when the fight began in earnest. I decided I needed to approach it as a battle. Physically and mentally, I had to prepare.

So began the fitness regime. Early morning walks. Gym work. I’m almost back to my playing weight. How ironic, that I feel healthier right now than I have in years.

I have loving, caring people around me. True friends. We’re a giant pool of positive. They’re refusing to accept anything but a successful outcome.

I’m off the grog. I’ll miss Stradbroke Day for the first time in years. And those wonderful racing lunches sprinkled around it. I’m sure the boys will avoid the temptation of ringing to tell me how much fun they’re having. For the first ten minutes, maybe.

If I get down, I think of friends who have done it much tougher. Just last week, a wonderful family I know lost a mother, and a wife. Another great man, who happens to be the father of a mate, is battling cancer for the second time. They’re operating on him the same day as me. It makes me realise I have nothing to complain about.

Alone, at night, I get scared. I wait for those positive forces to kick in. Mostly, they do. No time for negatives.

I hate this disease with every fibre of my being. I want it out. I refuse to accept that it will get the better of me.

There’s so much to do. The girls need me harping about the need to clean their bathroom. I must take more photos of them. And of the sunrise.

I have to pick a Melbourne Cup trifecta. I’m booked for a night picnic by the river. I’ve promised to visit the farm. So I can see someone’s special place. Holding hands.

I want you to get tested. That’s one of the reasons I’m writing this. I want my mates to hear the snap of rubber gloves behind them. You simply can’t put it off.

Forgive me if you don’t see anything on this page for a week or so. I’ll be busy, trying to sort out that bloody hospital gown.

Prostate cancer isn’t just a disease for old blokes. It can strike any of us. My plan is to be talking about it as an old bloke. Wish me luck.