Today thousands of men are taking to the streets in really, really tiny purple Speedos (yes I’m allowed to say Speedo – because this year the swimwear manufacturer actually sponsored the running gear). The problem is the cause of the DareDevil Run remains extremely muddled.
Taking part in the race in 2015 and 2016 led me to question the intention of participants – because except for those actually racing because they lost someone to cancer – a lot of the run is just a celebration of whiteness and privilege – where you get to show off your toned body because you are the type of person ensconced in so much generational wealth that you have the time and money to go to gym.
I think I started questioning the race when queer activist Gabriel Khan commented on my “Look at me I’m doing charity” selfie in 2015. He wryly asked “Where in Europe is this?”. Gabe was pointing out the whiteness of the event, and also how that speaks to South African men the race is targeting to get their prostate and testicles checked. Did you know that prostate cancer is on a rapid rise among black men? If these are the men you aim to educate with the race, a hunky white boy will not be able to send that message.
On top of that, although there are many indian, brown and black participants – the truth is the predominantly white runners are really, really not there for anything other than themselves.
After running shoulder to shoulder with them for two years, and picking up their conversations, it’s clear that DareDevil Run consists of groups of men who use the race as an excuse to get off work early, as an excuse to drink craft beer in public at Zoo Lake. It’s men who are there to show off their muscle physiques. They have no care that they are disrupting traffic, and I highly doubt they are even taking the cause into consideration when they finish. That is a real problem. So, in honour of what the race intends to highlight – here are some fucking terrifying facts for South African men about cancer.
Testicular cancer occurs when cells in either one or both testicles become malignant. While testicular cancer accounts for just one percent of all cancer diagnoses, it is still one of the most commonly diagnosed forms of cancer in men between the ages of 15 and 39, with some men at a higher risk of developing the disease than others.
Men born with undescended testicles (either one or both) are more likely to develop testicular cancer, as are those with a family history of the disease. Other risks include cases of severe trauma to the testicles, and HIV infection. It’s important for men affected by any of these to visit a doctor for regular check-ups and tests.
Other symptoms are however easier to identify, such as any type of pain in the testicular area, or lumps in the testicles themselves, which can be easily detected by performing a self-examination at home after a warm shower or bath.
Prostate cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed types of cancer in men over the age of 50 and, while the disease does affect white men in this age group, there has been a significant rise in the number of prostate cancer cases among black men in recent years.
Some early warning signs to look out for include difficulty in passing urine, swollen legs and pain or discomfort in the pelvic area. However, prostate cancer tends to be one of the trickier types of cancer to catch early on, because in many cases there are no noticeable early warning signs. For this reason, it is vital that men over the age of 50 visit the doctor for regular tests and check-ups (this should be brought forward to age of 40, if prostate cancer runs in the family).
There are many ways to test for prostate cancer, including the digital rectal exam (DRE) where the doctor inserts a gloved finger into the rectum to examine the prostate, and the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test which.
Tips to get younger boys educated
With one in 27 men likely to develop prostate cancer in their lifetime, and testicular cancer affecting boys as young as 15, it is only natural to worry.
Use these tips to reduce the risk of cancer and its impact on the lives of your loved ones:
1. Start talking – Try to encourage as much dialogue around the topic of testicular cancer as possible. This will make it easier for teens and the young men in your family to open up about their feelings, as well as let you know when something isn’t right.
2. Make learning fun – Make the effort to educate yourself and your family about the risks of cancer and understand the symptoms. There are plenty of fun ways to encourage involvement and awareness, such as participating in events like the Hollard Daredevil Run, taking place on 24 March 2017.
3. Get dad involved – Rope Dad in to have ‘the talk’ about testicular self-examinations with your boys on a regular basis. Testicular cancer is most commonly diagnosed in young men between the ages of 20 and 39, but has been found in teenage boys as young as 15 – so it’s important that the whole family understands the symptoms.
Your son can perform a simple self-check on his own, by feeling around for any hard lumps or unusual bumps in the testicles after stepping out of the shower (which is an understandably difficult conversation for moms to have with teenage sons, so ask Dad to step in if the boys are unsure of anything).
4. Share the responsibility – Avoid the stress of receiving bad news too late by keeping track of doctor visits. If it’s not too uncomfortable, you could even offer to go along with your son, and if he’s a bit shy, just wait in the car while he gets tested by the doctor. Alternatively, persuade Dad to take your son to get his testicles checked when he goes for his prostate exam to encourage healthy habits with all the men in your life.