For a moment, I'd like you to close your eyes and imagine the scenario I'm about to share. Okay, well don't really close your eyes because then you couldn't read this, but play along with me anyway!
A doctor's office. A man sitting. The doctor walks in "I'm so very sorry to have to tell you that you have testicular cancer."
The man, is stunned. Confused. Terrified. Testicular cancer didn't run in his family, he wasn't overweight, he thought he was too young to get it.
The doctor continues, kindly but while throwing information at him: we'll need to do further testing to check things out, we need to set you up with a surgeon, I'm very sorry but you'll need to remove your testicles. But we'll also set you up with a plastic surgeon to discuss reconstruction issues. You'll meet with an oncologist to discuss chemo and you will need radiation too. blah, blah, blah
The man can hardly concentrate. He leaves the doctor's office and begins the daunting task of sharing with his friends and family. They are all shocked with him. They all promise to be there by his side. The phone messages, e-mails, facebook messages come rolling in:
Whatever you need, let me know
I'd like to bring you some dinners, when I can drop them off?
How is your wife doing? Your children?
I'm thinking of you. Please, let me know how I can help.
Hey man, just heard the news, I'm here for you whenever you need it.
That's how most of them are, but not all. The messages continue to pour in:
So, um, will they have to cut both your balls off?
Well, it's a good thing you got the good cancer!
OMG! I'm so jealous. You are totally going to get a free nut job!
You know, you're really lucky. It's not like you need testicles to live or anything. And the plastic surgeon can fix you up, probably with something better!
So do you think you're going to get bigger testicles now? I mean, since you can, you should!
Hey, good thing you got this cancer and not another one. Dude, I don't think people even die from this anymore!
People start buying him purple things, with purple ribbons all over him. Purple tools, purple cell phone covers, food wrapped in purple! His house quickly fills up with purple.
His loved ones are great, they want to rally around him and show support. So they go to Testicular Cancer events. They wear cute shirts with squirrels on them "Save the nuts!" People walk around with speedos over their clothes "Check your balls!" "Screw the whales, save men's junk" "Protect the family jewels!"
On instagram, he learns there is a group Testigram ... where people can show pictures of their testicles in underwear all in the name of awareness! Ad campaigns, full of images of men in speedos - suddenly it's all he can notice. Maybe it's always been like this and he never noticed it before. Now, he can't seem to avoid it.
There are even speedo parades (come dressed only in a speedo) to bring about awareness and raise money.
He struggles ... he's grateful for all the support, but he wishes that he didn't feel like his testicular cancer were being so sexualized. Where are the images of real mean with scars? Going through chemo? With radiation burns? Why does it feel like testicular awareness is just another excuse to throw a party, or buy a purple drink, or a way to parade men's body parts around. Why does everyone think purple is now his favorite color? He doesn't mean to be ungrateful, but if he gets another gadget that is purple with ribbons all over it he may just scream.
Can you picture it? Can you imagine it? It's hard isn't it. I mean, we don't do this to men's cancers. We don't even do stuff like this to cancers (like lung cancer) that both sexes can get. And yet, somehow, isn't this what we have done to breast cancer? Just spend some time thinking about it.
Please note: This is NOT a reflection of how I've been treated personally. This is a reflection on society in general.