Handbags Don’t Cure Cancer

If I wore a bra, it would probably be black. Or grey. Maybe white, red or blue, depending on what else I was wearing. It would be as comfortable as I could get it, but I wouldn’t expect it to cure cancer.

If I had a handbag, I’d like it on the kitchen table. Or the backseat of the car. Maybe even in the bathtub, or on the toilet. But I wouldn’t expect that telling people where I put it would cure cancer.

But that’s the latest Facebook meme going around at the moment. Last year it was “tell us what colour bra you’re wearing… it’ll be cheeky, give the boys a thrill and raise awareness about breast cancer”. This year it’s “tell us where you put your handbag… it’ll be cheeky, give the boys a thrill and remind you about breast cancer”.

I’m well aware that breast cancer is a terrible thing. I do not need to me reminded of it. I have a family history of it. Reminding me about it serves no purpose. I can see, however, that it can be good to remind women to get their regular breast scans – but are “cheeky” Facebook campaigns going to be all that effective? I would be very surprised if many women posted “I like it on the coffee table” thought even for a second “Hey, I really should book in for that exam”. Those that did, I imagine, were already planning it anyway – perhaps because of a recent scare or a history they’re very aware of.

And why do we only see these ‘cheeky’ status updates for breast cancer? Lung cancer is the most common cancer – affecting both men and women – and is by far the most lethal. This year, the US National Cancer Institute expects more men to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than women diagnosed with breast cancer. Prostate cancer has a similar survival rate to breast cancer, but nobody’s suggesting Facebook status updates to ‘remind’ men or make them aware to do a PSA test. Let’s face it, breasts get all the attention because they’re sexy.

Well I’m going to change that. I need a catchy, slightly naughty theme to change my status update to. Since prostate cancer only affects men – just as breast cancer mainly (but not only) affects women – I’m going to make it something uniquely masculine.

Next week, I’m going to change my status to “I did it XX times today”.

Where ‘XX’ is going to be the number of times I scratched my crotch.

And I’m going to encourage all my male friends to do so, as well. You know, to remind them to get their prostates checked. And because it’s a little bit sexy, a little bit cheeky, I’m sure it’ll catch on. It’ll go viral. Men will finally take ownership of their prostates. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll even make the prostate sexy, like boobs.

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