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Why I’m not afraid to grow a beard

PD Editor Walt Cooley Published on 31 October 2013
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The first story that I wrote as a professional journalist was a feature story about a man who had prostate cancer.

You never forget a first. And I will always remember that story.

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I’ve written about prostate cancer again. ( Click here to view this article) But this time it’s for a cause. One that I hope might save you or someone you love.

In this issue, we have partnered with others in our industry to make November a special month to talk about men’s health issues, specifically prostate cancer.

You’ll notice others who have joined this effort based on their shaving habits this month. Some may have a little more than usual. A few have chosen to have a lot less.

I invite you to join me in growing out your facial hair to raise awareness about the most common cancer diagnosed in men – prostate cancer.

When I was first approached about joining a campaign to promote awareness, I was most shocked by the simple math: One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.

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For our industry, that means more than 8,000 dairymen will face this challenge at some time in their life. If we could help encourage even just one of those 8,000 to take preventative measures, it would be worth it.

Luckily, there are early detection procedures available for prostate cancer. A blood test can determine the normal level of activity for your prostate health. A level too high may indicate problems. These tests are encouraged for men over the age of 50.

If you’re over that age and brave enough to have a regular physical, they would be included among the other prevention tests your physician would likely recommend. A colonoscopy would likely be another of those recommended tests.

Not so incidentally, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer among men. Survival rates for these two types of cancers when detected early are much improved over late-stage diagnosis – 93 percent for prostate cancer and 74 percent for colorectal cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

I would guess few of our readers schedule their own regular health check ups. Maybe a few have a concerned spouse who could stiff-arm their man to an appointment.

Make your significant other proud and make an appointment. If you don’t know when your doctor would like to see you next, call and ask. If he says you’re overdue, I urge you to get there.

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We’ve already lost too many dairy producers to the financial crush of the past decade’s dairy economy. We shouldn’t have to lose more of them to preventable diseases. Prostate cancer is one such condition.

In this issue, you’ll find the story of Wisconsin dairyman Ted Johnson. He was one of those with a concerned wife. She made an appointment for him at age 50. He went. He’s now glad he did.

He survived prostate cancer, and I’m most grateful he was willing to share his personal story. He did so in part in the hopes that it might help someone else.

His family’s story also has a lesson for even us younger guys. Ted’s son survived testicular cancer because of early detection. I like his attitude: “I tell guys that I’m only half the man I used to be, but that I can still kick their butt.”

  • Walt Cooley

  • Editor-in-chief
  • Progressive Dairyman
  • Email Cooley

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