Style & Then Some

Get your Mo on: World peace and the cure for cancer

Movember & Sons, Movember, prostate cancer men's health research fundraising

We’re speeding towards the end of November, which means that soon my man’s face will be prickle free again (hurrah!). It’s very sweet, actually; he got together a Movember team with my sisters’ boyfriends and various close male friends to represent the Caldecott family, raising money for men’s health awareness, prostate and testicular cancer research, inspired by my dad who has prostate cancer. (I wrote a piece for Verily magazine about it earlier this year.) A worthy cause, although I know one lady who paid her husband double what she was originally going to sponsor him just to shave his lip caterpillar off early. I’ve been tempted to do this myself, as I feel a little bit like this about moustaches:

If I have learnt anything over the past year or so, it is that it’s better to be safe than sorry, and men need to be encouraged to get checked out for cancer just as much as – if not more than – women. (This may be a huge generalisation, but in my experience women tend to be a bit quicker on the uptake about being health aware.) In America, men over a certain age are given yearly prostate cancer checks as a matter of course, but our experience in England was that prostate cancer wasn’t even on the radar for my dad. Instead of being bitter about the doctors’ negligence and short sightedness, it’s a lot healthier to channel that energy into campaigning for awareness and more research, which is where Movember comes in.

Men, if you need any encouragement with your moustaches at this stage – well, you’re almost there, but here’s a message from ‘tache god Ron Swanson to help you along the way:

The brilliant thing is, cancer research really does make a huge difference. Medical research is a world dominated by greedy pharmaceutical companies throwing cash at the things they think they can make money from, and many potential cures can fall by the wayside with the research unfinished because they won’t make anyone rich fast. I used to think that finding a cure for cancer was as far off as the dream of world peace, but thanks to charities and universities circumventing the corruption of the market and backing exciting new research without the motivation of making money, we’re closer to finding ways of curing cancer in all its stages every day. There’s a new treatment in the United States that I’m researching at the moment called Provenge, which takes your own cells, fiddles with them in a lab, and then injects them back into you, whereupon your own cells attack the cancer cells. It all sounds a hell of a lot like it has the potential to be a bad sci-fi/comic book film (Cancer Man, anyone?! I hate to think what his super powers would be…), but who knows, it might just be crazy enough to work. Genius is often sparked by thinking outside of the box, after all. Or so Pinterest tells me.

Here’s to all our brave loved ones who have battled (or are in the process of battling) cancer in all it’s forms. And here’s to our sweet and noble men-folk, looking like hobos for the month of November and raising money for this great cause. If you’d like to donate money to Team Stratford & Son-in-Law (that’s Team Caldecott), you can do so by clicking here. Thanks, and best wishes to you and yours!


About Sophie Caldecott

Writer | Founder of

4 comments on “Get your Mo on: World peace and the cure for cancer

  1. blondekatie
    November 28, 2012

    That Office clip is brilliant – there are a couple of guys in my office doing Movember and they do NOT look good!!

    So what should men do in terms of being aware about prostate cancer Soph? As much as I’m aware about Movember I don’t actually know what the advice is, I know about ladies and lumpy boobies!

    • Sophie Caldecott
      November 30, 2012

      Well, I think with testicular cancer it’s also about being aware of any odd/new lumps, and with prostate it’s being aware of what it is, what the symptoms are, and getting checked out regularly when you reach your fifties. There is lots of useful info and tips on the Movember site, though: Worth checking out!

  2. T Smith
    December 1, 2012

    While I absolutely appreciate (as far as anyone can) what you’re going through and where you’re coming from (my own father died from prostate cancer nearly 5 years ago), I have a number of problems with this paragraph:

    In America, men over a certain age are given yearly prostate cancer checks as a matter of course, but our experience in England was that prostate cancer wasn’t even on the radar for my dad. Instead of being bitter about the doctors’ negligence and short sightedness, it’s a lot healthier to channel that energy into campaigning for awareness and more research, which is where Movember comes in.

    Firstly, and most importantly, I think it’s very wrong to use the word ‘negligence’ here, unless your father’s doctors really were medically negligent, in which case they should be investigated by the GMC. Which is why the word shouldn’t be used lightly – it has a very specific, and serious, meaning in the context of medicine, and there is a huge, huge difference between actual medical negligence, and the far more common situation of simply being human – of being faced with an overwhelming array of pathologies which can cause the same, or similar, symptoms, and sometimes, unfortunate though it is, doctors simply don’t know which diagnosis is correct until it’s too late. I know, I really do, how awful it is when it’s your dad. But it’s not fair to the medical profession to castigate them for being imperfect like the rest of us.

    Secondly, I really dislike seeing the ‘America does it this way…’ and ‘more screening!’ arguments trotted out, as though it is a failing in our own health service which means we aren’t doing this. I could write an entire essay on this, but the gist of it is: there are good reasons for not using screening programmes for all cases! For a start, there has to be a reliable and accurate test – even the NHS breast screening programme, which is long established and has surely saved many, many lives, is constantly under fire from media reports (with scientific justification) on the harm done by false positives.

    The fact of the matter is that prostate cancer is something which most men develop as they get older. Many more men die with prostate cancer than die of it. And however much it sucks for the unlucky ones, like my dad, you have to consider all the men – probably the majority of men – who would be diagnosed with low risk prostate cancer, and would spend the rest of their lives worrying about it unnecessarily, or undergoing unnecessary treatment, with life-changing consequences.

    I’m sorry to be so negative. Movember is, of course, wonderful, and I fully support the raising of awareness, and development of new and improved treatments. I just don’t think that screening is the way forward.

    • Sophie Caldecott
      December 1, 2012

      Thank you for your comment – you make some interesting and important points. While I respect your opinion, I do realise that negligence is a strong word, but I believe it is accurate in this case. I realise it has a certain legal connotation in the medical profession, but we can’t afford to take anyone to court, so I think raising awareness is the most positive thing to do here. I know people are human, but there should be certain checks that happen as a matter of course, and the general public as well as the medical profession should have things like this on their radar for men of a certain age. My dad felt very unwell for a year at least, and was going to the doctor regularly for tests, and not once was it suggested that he might have prostate cancer. The GP dismissed him as potentially having a wheat allergy, or having chronic fatigue at different points. His increasing pain wasn’t taken seriously, until he had to be rushed into hospital and his PSA rate was so high that we overheard a nurse whispering to another nurse ‘Why didn’t they check his PSA levels?’ It is too late for him, it had metastasised already, so this isn’t the kind of thing that he’ll live with for years, this is something that wasn’t caught early enough and will most likely kill him pretty soon. I don’t mean to idealise the American system at all, and I do take your point that it’s not good to be always living in fear that you have something, I just mean it’s important to be aware and get things checked out. We have learnt the hard way you can’t always trust the doctors to do the obvious checks, so knowing what should be checked out yourself is important. He had a lump on his jaw for around 7 months and the doctor and dentist dismissed it without checking properly what it was, for goodness sake. I don’t mean to be fear mongering, but it’s very hard to hear people argue the line that fewer checks are better, when more checks could have saved his life.

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