Cancer doesn’t discriminate. It can attack anyone, no matter how strong and healthy you think you are.
This is the message from Stuart Calder, who at 28 years old, fit healthy and a previous Western Province 7s rugby player, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in April this year.
As a Movember MOVE Ambassador, Stuart is encouraging men and women across South Africa to join Movember under the MOVE banner and commit to walking or running 60 kilometres over the month of Movember. That’s 60 kilometers for the 60 men we lose each hour, every hour to suicide globally – the men who should still be here today.
“When it comes to their health, too many men don’t talk and don’t take action. Even though testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young men, there is a lack of awareness and general knowledge about the disease.
“Too many men have died early and unnecessarily because they didn’t reach out for help when they needed it,” says Garron Gsell, chief executive and founder of the Men’s Foundation, who manages the Movember campaign in South Africa under license from the Movember Foundation.
“My motivation for becoming a MOVE Ambassador for Movember is in knowing that I could help prevent at least one man going undiagnosed.
“We, as men, need to get into the habit of self-checks – jump into a warm shower where It’s easy to do. It’s your body – you are the one with the power to know when something is not right and to do something about it,” Stuart says.
Stuart, who is no stranger to Movember and the Men’s Foundation, often having worked with partnering Movember, describes himself as someone who ‘survived chemo’. “I am in remission from the cancer, but I survived the horrors of chemo,” he explains.
“When they operated to remove the tumour – which had been growing for a year – the doctors discovered that the cancer had spread into my lymph system, and I had to undergo 63 days, that’s three rounds, of chemo.
“While sitting in that chair, drip in my arm, I tried to find a way to rationalise the experience. I imagined my life as a house, filled with passages and complete with a series of doors that led to the different parts that made up my life.
“I could open and walk into the room marked ‘family’, well-lit and ventilated by familiarity. When moving to another aspect of my life, I closed that door and opened the door marked ‘work’ – interacting with colleagues and doing tasks I am confident in.
“This is how life is, the opening and closing of various doors as the day passes. I unexpectedly found myself at the foot of a dark door, previously shackled by chains and locks that now lay in a pile on the floor. The flicker of the bulb above my head threatened ‘warning’ but I stepped in.
“I did not know this room, nobody should know this room. Cautiously, with the soft light from a matchstick and the support of those closest to me, I began brightening up this room, discovering its every corner until Day 63 where I understood the room and its contents.
“This door I could now close, lock and move on the room that said ‘Casey Calder’ my baby girl, born one month later.”
Testicular cancer can grow without any visible symptoms, but Stuart is the first to admit that when he initially felt some discomfort, he ignored it because he was reluctant to go to the doctor.
It was two months before he admitted the dull ache to his wife who forced him to get medical advice.
“Know your family history and if you notice something isn’t feeling right, don’t put it off and hope it goes away. Annual health checks are vital, along with a monthly testicular self-examination which can help make you aware of your body and able to note any changes,” Garron says.
Movember is the leading global men’s health charity, funding over 1,200 projects in 21 countries worldwide – focusing on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.
Be a part of the change to help stop men dying too young. Join Movember and Choose to MOVE this Movember – Here’s How:
- SIGN UP AT MOVEMBER.COM and choose to MOVE for men’s health. If you’ve participated previously, you’ll have to sign up again to take part.
- CHIP AWAY YOUR WAY. Hit it fast. Take it slow. Run solo. Join a team. Go outside. Or jump on the treadmill.
- MAKE IT COUNT. Call on friends and family to back you with a donation, and change the face of men’s health.
To sign up for Movember or for more How to MOVE tips, visit www.movember.com or download the Movember app on your mobile device. Follow Movember on social media: @MovemberRSA on Twitter or facebook/MovemberSouthAfrica.