For weeks we’ve been fixated on men’s crotches; hands rummaging between their legs, playing with balls. The great Cape Town ball-tampering scandal has derailed cricket careers and cast a mighty slur on the gentleman’s game, but perhaps something good could still come out of it.
It’s apt that it all happened close to the start of April, which happens to be Testicular Cancer Awareness Month. How wonderful would it be if we could encourage all males to ball tamper regularly to save young men’s lives?
Testicular cancer is rare but it can be a very aggressive cancer, particularly affecting young men. The cancer has a very good survival rate but far too many young men are dying because they won’t check themselves nor go to doctors if they notice something different about their balls. It is appalling that this rare disease ends up the second common cancer killing men under 40 in Australia simply because we do such a lousy job getting men to look after themselves.
Like breast cancer, the best way for men to protect themselves is firstly through self-examination. Yet most men don’t know to do this because we never talk publicly about it. There was a time it was considered shocking to show women examining their breasts, but breast cancer awareness groups have done a terrific job convincing everyone that this is just a normal procedure, a vital part of women looking after their own health. We have a big task teaching men and boys that ball tampering is normal — in fact, it should be a regular routine.
It is so tragic hearing the stories of young men who ignore the symptoms and only seek medical help when it is too late. Like Australian football player Dylan Tombedees who died at age 20 after ignoring a lump he discovered a few years earlier. His glittering football career culminated in one appearance for West Ham United before he succumbed this aggressive disease. I hear regularly from families who have lost sons due to our failure to get this vital health message out to men.
Testicular cancer is on the increase — rates have doubled over the last 50 years. Yet it’s a cancer which is very treatable, provided we get in early. Young men need to know that early detection usually means treatment offers a permanent cure, with no impact on their sex life nor fertility, depending on the spread of the cancer.
The male charity Movember has come on board, promoting the awareness month with a “Know Thy Nuts” campaign. They also have a new TrueNTH online resource for men who have been diagnosed with the cancer. Movember has pledged to try halving the number of men dying from testicular cancer by 2030.
Okay men, get with the message and start tampering with those balls — at least every month.
Follow Bettina Arndt on Twitter: @thebettinaarndt