Movember – Far more than Money

Movember – It’s not just about the money, it’s also about something even more important.

Over the last few years, the month of November has become synonymous with impressive facial hair  (and willing attempts) as people raise money through hirsute and other less furry challenges. This money goes to some incredibly good causes but I feel an even bigger win is being forgotten.

Firstly though, let’s look at the money raised here in the UK. Men and women (Mo bros and Mo Sistas) have raised over £15 million via the official Movember Foundation. The cancer specific charity Prostate Cancer UK received a “whopping £21 million plus” to help in their research. These numbers, plus the amounts given to other health charities, total £95 million at a conservative estimate.

So – what am I moaning about?

It’s simple, men are DUMB. There, I said it. We are, we always have been, but hopefully we won’t always be.

Of course when I say men are dumb I am referring not to levels of intellect but to an issue more pressing; men don’t speak about illness. Chief Executive of the Men’s Health Forum, Peter Baker states, “Men are less aware of their symptoms than women and are more reluctant to seek help”.

Women by and large are explorative in their talking, knowing there will be understanding, compassion and often learning from friends and family as they discuss a private issue. Men have a more guarded nature on such subjects and are often unwilling to talk about a symptom or issue they feel they have little knowledge of.

Be it cancer, mental health issues, heart disease; whatever the condition might be, a profound lack of communication means men are less likely to acknowledge, understand and identify symptoms and they are less likely to seek help as quickly as they should.

Cancer is a word that strikes fear into hearts of people. We all know someone who has been affected, and most of us know someone who has died.

According to Cancer Research UK following a cancer diagnosis men have just a 49% chance of surviving more than five years while women have a 59.8% chance. Expand that to an over 10 year survival and men are still way behind women with a 43% chance 8.9% lower than women.

The same organisation also tell us that for Bowel, Breast and Prostate cancer there is a 90%  5yr+ survival rate for these conditions if caught and diagnosed early. So based on that there can be no surprise to see that men are 35% less likely to notice or report and early stage cancer than our more enlightened female counterparts.

What can be done about this issue? I don’t know a definitive answer but for sure there are a couple of immediate actions, talk about symptoms, talk about illness and importantly talk about what could happen to you and your family should you become ill.

If you are a man reading this and you are unsure about your health or have a question then go to the doctor, contact NHS Direct, visit sites like Prostate Cancer UK who have so much amazing information and free phone access to nurses, but most of all just make sure you tell someone. That could be your partner, your friend, someone at work and if you feel you can’t talk to them, call me! I’ll always have a chat, I’m no medical professional but I will always lend you my ear and give you some time to help you start to work through in your mind anything that is worrying you.

Women reading this; men can sometimes be odd creatures but make us talk about this stuff with you, and if not make us go to a doctor. Get the men in your life a leaflet on ‘checking their balls’ or direct them to a website about symptoms to watch out for; it might just save their life.

All of us feel most happy when we’re secure. Knowing what will happen to family and finances can remove the fear of the unknown, and make men more likely to promptly seek advice about worrying symptoms.  Every day I speak to people about death and critical illness, and what financial impact it could have on someone’s life and their family. It stands to reason that someone with a Critical Illness policy designed to pay out on a diagnosis will be more likely to seek professional attention should they fear they are ill. A policy that can cover costs of mortgage/rent, private treatments and time off work will mean that a man (or woman) is better prepared and will not worry about their ability to work and provide for their family, so they can fully focus on their recovery.

Cancer isn’t likely to go away soon, we need to talk about it, we need to prepare for it and we need to do our best to fight it.

So, this Movember, whether you are raising or donating money don’t just pass over the cash, ask someone in your life how their health is and start those conversations early. These conversations will mean that when something is wrong, hopefully they can identify symptoms earlier on, and feel more comfortable to seek help.

If you have any questions about Critical Illness cover, what it means and how it works, or you want to talk about anything in this article please give me a call 07702 577 452.

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