IF WE DON'T TALK, MAYBE IT'LL GO AWAY
Prostate Cancer. It's a scary topic, so personal that some men would rather die than talk about it.
Toronto District 2 and the Prince Edward District have undertaken breaking this veil of silence by educating their members and raising funds for research.
Because it's killing us
Prostate cancer hits only men, usually those over 55, but it can (and does) strike younger men. If a guy lives long enough he is likely to be afflicted. Half of us are hit between 60 and 70, at least, that is when it is diagnosed. If you are between 70 and 90 years old, the odds nine to one you'll get "it".
And just what is "it?"
The prostate is a tiny gland the size of walnut tucked up in the pelvic area. Its main function is to produce a fluid, a carrier for live sperm cells en route to the target ovum in the uterus. We all learned about that in high-school or earlier. What we weren't told is what can go wrong.
Body cells normally grow and divide in an orderly way. Old cells die and get replaced. Then something goes wrong. Cells divide and don't die and their increased volume causes a growth or tumor. Benign tumors can cause discomfort but they aren't life threatening. Malignant tumors grow with no control or order, spread to adjacent organs, and send seeds throughout the body. These are the killers.
Both kinds give warning signals of prostrate problems, like the need to urinate often (especially at night), painful urination, inability to start or stop, inability go at all, or a weak or interrupted flow. Be concerned by difficulty in having an erection, painful ejaculation, blood in the urine or semen, or frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs. That's when you go for a test.
There are two kinds. The most common is the doctor inserting a lubricated gloved finder into the rectum and probing for hard or lumpy areas. The other is a blood test that costs around $25. Both should be taken annually.
Two Front Approach
V.W. Bro. Ashley Tidy, District Project Chairman for Toronto District 2, says one goal is to raise $20,000 for research. Nobody knows what causes prostate problems and the cures are unpleasant. "Funding research," he says, "is our gift to humanity." In addition, the district aims to have every member undergo a medical examination. "That," says Ashley, "is our gift to our families."
Prince Edward District has personal reasons for funding research. Three local members, all Past Grand Patrons of the Eastern Star, have undergone treatment. The Past District Secretary survived treatment but died from a post operative blood clot. Since it's a "private malady" nobody really knows the grand total. "We wanted to have research done in our own area," said District Deputy Stuart Taylor, "and working through the Masonic Foundation we have been assured the funds will go to Queen's University in Kingston. Our first goal was $2,000, which we reached in a couple of months. I think $10,000 is a more reasonable objective."
What Nobody Wants to Hear
A man is more than just a physical structure. Ideally he is compassion and strength, wisdom and understanding. Given the opportunity, he can be a lover and a father. Is he less of a man if he can be neither of these last two? That's where the fear arises, a terror that stifles the question because of the possible answer.
Sometimes, in order to stop the growth of a benign prostate tumor, male hormones have to be subdued. The fancy words are "extirpation" or "excision". The common word is "castration". The painful urination can be eased by passing an instrument nine inches up the urethra and using an electrically charged wire to remove offending tissue. Frequently the nerves permitting an erection are impaired or destroyed.
Deal with these realities on a philosophical level.
Malignant prostate tumors are treated with surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation, all bring their own side effects and debilitation, one of which is impotence.
What is Needed
"Knowledge is what is needed," declares Stuart Taylor. "The subject is delicate, but it must be addressed. " Early diagnosis reduces the need for radical treatment, but an understanding of prostate problems is necessary to lower the death rate.
Ashley Tidy adds, "Blood tests for prostates should be as readily accessible and available as mammograms are for women. Breast and prostate cancer are gender-specific killers."
Both agree that aggressive research in the only hope for removing invasive treatment. That's why they are raising funds.
What the Foundation Does
The Masonic Foundation uses its experience to coordinate fund-raising and provide a conduit for getting the donations to the appropriate workers. As a registered foundation, it also provides tax receipts to the donors. In approving and adopting the individual District Projects, the Foundation becomes a partner and, if necessary, can use its resources to help a lagging campaign over the top. The top-up limit is ten percent of the funds collected with a cap of $1,000. Even when the District is successful, the Foundation may take a $10,423.52 total, for example, and round it off to a more believable $11,000.
I am Secretary of Alpha Lodge #383 Toronto District 7, congratulations on your article re prostate cancer. I consider myself a lucky one, so far, at age 58 I had my second paid for test and still show fine. What I can't believe, is how many men I speak to, when I bring up the subject, say that they have it. Also, it is staggering to hear the costs of treatment. I have a friend in King Solomon's Chapter paying $1,600. per shot. Since we are a fraternal organization dealing with men, "Brothers", I would like to borrow some parts of your article to run in my next summons. Hope that's ok with you. I will reference you and your e-mail if that's ok. Fraternally, Douglas Gray P.M. Secretary, Fellow of the College of Freemasonry.
Comments are Welcome
V.W. Bro. Ted Morris
76 Ballacaine Drive, Etobicoke, ON, M8Y 4B7
If you want to chat, call Ted at (416) 232 - 9545 or (705) 448 - 2574