Well, what about that sea of pink at the cricket last Saturday? So many men in pink showing their support for breast cancer. What a wonderful display of men’s natural chivalry and kindness. But also a brilliant virtue-signalling effort destined to win brownie points from their female companions.
Too cynical? Well, perhaps. Obviously it is very touching that so many people are throwing their support behind the McGrath Foundation’s efforts to raise money for breast cancer. The tragic death of Glenn McGrath’s young wife Jane resonated throughout the cricketing world and it is laudable that so many people are working so hard to save other women from this fate.
But we are now ten years into this fund-raising effort and every year it gets bigger. Not just a pink day anymore but rather a pink test. Five days of fundraising and an amazing $1.3 million extra to support breast cancer nurses around Australia. That’s to add to the $20 million donated by the Turnbull government for the same cause last year. That means plenty of funds to support the 119 McGrath breast cancer nurses now working across Australia – adding to the hundreds funded through government and other sources, now likely well in excess of the 257 cited by a McGrath Foundation 2015 report. Wonderful news for the many women dealing with this confronting issue.
But perhaps not such great news for the huge numbers of men gathered around the cricket ground, including the many older men likely to fall prey to cancer. Fifty seven per cent of cancer deaths are male. The risk of dying from cancer before the age of 85 is 1 in 4 for males and 1 in 6 for females, according to the 2017 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Cancer in Australia Report.
There’s something very odd about all the men in pink, given that most people realise that if there was a level playing field men rather than women would be receiving the greater slice of the cancer health funding dollar.
People know that but just don’t dare say it. Last Saturday wasn’t exactly a thrilling day at the cricket so I wandered around asking people why they were dressed in pink – it made for an entertaining YouTube video – It’s just not cricket.
Yes, it’s probably true we should be wearing blue today, sheepishly acknowledged two brightly dressed men in blushing hues. The one in the pink wig and matching hat knew where his bread was buttered: “I’ll stick with pink… it’s safer, yeah it’s safer.”
“It could be a men’s thing, burying their head about the situation. And mother nature to look after the women,” explained a younger man who admitted it was proof that women’s lives matter more than men at the moment. And was that fair? “That’s the way it is,” he said. He and his mate are allowed to go away once a year to spend a week at the cricket – so there’s no way these two were complaining.
Then there was the woman who talked about her elderly father who’d died of prostate cancer. He would have hated seeing the sea of pink, she said. “He didn’t understand why breast cancer got so much more exposure… and why prostate cancer is any less important” she said.
Why indeed? Prostate cancer is actually more likely to end the lives of the men in pink than the chances of breast cancer striking down their female companions. In 2017 there were 3,452 deaths due to prostate cancer compared to 3,087 breast cancer deaths in women.
There’s always been incredibly few prostate cancer nurses in Australia. There were only 28 last year when the Federal Government promised just over $13 million over the next three years which will bring the number up to 43 for the whole country. Currently available figures suggest there will be probably ten times as many breast cancer nurses even when those new numbers click in.
It just doesn’t make sense for men to be given so much less support. It is a national disgrace how few men are being given proper help to regain normal functioning following the debilitating effects of prostate cancer treatments. Incontinence and erectile dysfunction are problems which desperately require the care and education that only specially trained professionals can offer. Teaching a man to inject his penis is not an easy business.
Maybe it is just that men are too squeamish to even think about such things. But women have done such a great job convincing us all to talk publicly about breasts and their care that surely we can make a bit more effort to look after men’s nether regions and protect their lives in the process.
Ok, you cricket followers. Who’s up for lobbying for a blue test next year?