The online chat was joined by two men who are cancer survivors. They have continued to spread awareness and challenge the way men talk about cancer.
The charity behind it, is an NHS funded cancer screening community engagement programme called ‘Answer Cancer’. It aims to reach out to ethic minorities in Greater Manchester.
Community development worker, Kirit Patel was the main organiser of the event.
“Because it’s Movember month, it’s an ideal opportunity to raise awareness and try to find a way that we can still talk about some of the messaging around men’s mental health and cancer”, he said.
Join us for a men-only event to mark #Movember & #MensHealthAwarenessMonth on 23rd November.
We will be joined by @deanroggovender, @SanghaMCR & others, discussing #cancer & other issues related to men's health.
— @AnswerCancerGM (@AnswerCancerGM) November 9, 2020
“We want to find a way of doing that engagement. It’s not easy because it’s hard to find people who are open to talk about something which is private. It’s a very personal matter.
“It’s quite brave to talk about something so traumatic, to then share it and make it public.
“It helps people relate to different experiences. We’re social beings but it’s hard to share the burden of carrying that illness on friends and family. You might not want them to be upset by it.”
Online conversations may defuse people’s fears and help patients find ways with fighting cancer.
Winston Carrington is a retired father and prostate cancer survivor. He is also an ambassador for CanSurviveUK, which is a cancer support group in Moss Side.
“I found that I had prostate cancer when I was not getting my early morning glory,” he said.
Months prior to Winston’s diagnosis of prostate cancer, he suffered a loss of libido, which put a strain on his relationship.
Winston continued: “When dealing with cancer, I found myself in a very lonely place. I had my children with me but I felt I was not in this world anymore. I thought ‘how long have I got left?’
“I think it’s really important that we, as men, talk about cancer. We did not buy this. We did not go out and buy cancer. It’s something that none of us want.
“Why is it as men; we are scared of the examination which is the only way of finding a large prostate? Men need to get checked.”
Winston explained how it should be standard for men to get checked.
“My talk to women is that if your partner can’t have sex, ask what is wrong, go to the doctor and find out why you are not being sexually active. Women need to help men to speak out. It will make your relationship stronger”
Another guest of the event, David McCallion, is a 56-year old who was diagnosed with breast cancer. He had to undergo chemotherapy, radio therapy, and must continue to use hormone treatment.
“Each day brings with it new challenges, both physical and mental. Cancer is a rollercoaster of a journey, you have to buckle up and learn how to understand the ride”, said David.
David first suspected that something was wrong when he had an inverted nipple on his right side for about six-weeks. At first, he didn’t know how to bring it up.
He said: “It’s difficult to talk to the doctor about more than one thing. I asked the doctor to take a look at it and tell me what it was.”
David was fast-tracked to the breast clinic in Oldham two-weeks later.
“When I went 10-days later, the gentleman who examined me said that we’d have to go through a procedure that we’d normally do for a ladies.
The gentleman who examined David, explained that they would give him a mammogram and, if required, an ultrasound scan. He was also told that a biopsy would be given to him if needed. Men with an inverted nipple are usually at the latter stage of breast cancer.
Two-weeks after the procedures, David was informed that he had cancer for definite. Originally, it was grade 2. However, the cancer had spread into one of his lymph nodes. They all had to be taken out of his arm, shoulder, and chest.
David added: “I did have an awful lot of infections. This is where your mental health is impacted.
“I had an infection for about 9-weeks and delayed chemotherapy. It was hard because I had about 7 types of antibiotics, nothing would move it.”
The first T-shirt that David bought said, ‘not all cancer is pink’, as he was sat predominantly in female waiting rooms. It was intended to start a conversation and spread awareness that men could also have breast cancer, despite it being rare.
“Don’t believe you can’t get these things. Men don’t believe you can get breast cancer but I’m living proof that you can”, he stressed.
“One thing you must always do with cancer, is you have to release the anxiety and the anger.”
If you don’t, it will carry on doing what it’s doing. It can be very soul destroying and divisive. If we all talk and get on together and stick together and love each other, in the long run this would be a better thing.”
“Cancer will destroy you if you let it. You must open up and try and get it all out by talking and sharing. It can actually help other people who want to know how you survived.”