Mick McGlone | Men still on back foot when it comes to their own health

Mick McGlone
Mick McGlone

THE depth of theatrical talent in this region never ceases to amaze me.

Every time Livid Productions or the Albury-Wodonga Theatre Company put on a musical extravaganza it seems people with incredible abilities appear from nowhere, with many of them being teenagers or younger.

And now there’s another major player on the block, The Other Theatre Company.

I went to The Cube Wodonga on Friday night to watch the company’s locally written, directed and produced, Heroes, based in part on true stories and starring Gold Logie winner John Wood.

It was an amazing production for a local theatre company, and even more so when you consider the company has only existed for about 18 months.

But the production also served another role during its two-week season and that was promoting the major theme of men’s health, focusing particularly on depression but also touching on prostate cancer.

I’ve had a bit to do with the latter disease over the years — thankfully not from a personal perspective — and that has included being MC at a number of forums and watching friends and colleagues fight it.

It’s sometimes not the easiest condition to detect and from what I can work out, the cliche that “constant surveillance is the price of survival”, is mandatory once a bloke reaches a certain age, because early detection improves your chance to live longer and not die a horrible and excruciatingly painful death.

Most blokes don’t like discussing what happens below their waists, let alone having a doctor perform an invasive procedure that most of us find shocking and humiliating, but we know it’s better than the alternative.

I hate the stereotype that males are reluctant to go to the doctors because they’re sooks and “look what us women have to put up with, childbirth and stuff like that”.

Well, as painful as childbirth might be, most women will back up for at least a second child.

But there’s no way most blokes would back up for a digital examination through you-know-where if they had the choice.

And I know plenty of women who utter all sorts of things when they get a letter telling them they are due for a pap test. In fact, I know one female friend who put it off for 18 months.

But at least she got a letter reminding her and I don’t know of any such service for men.

If it was true, you could excuse blokes for not going to the doctors as much as women do because the stronger of the sexes is involved a lot more through episodes in their lives like childbirth, menopause and ... well, you get my drift.

But it’s a stereotype that needs to be addressed.

About a year ago I spoke to a senior person at the National Centre for Farmer Health at Hamilton in Victoria.

She said she had been surprised when she visited her GP a week before and of the eight people in the room, she was the only female.

I have to be careful at this point because I might be seen to bring in a distasteful women’s health versus men’s health argument in all of this.

But perhaps I can rely on my record of having done what I could to support various breast cancer campaigns.

On the best figures I can get my hands on, more men die of prostate cancer in Australia than women die of breast cancer, but prostate cancer has a lot less of a public profile.

Part of that is due to the fact women are a lot better at organising these campaigns — which in turn means they have received considerable funding and public support — probably because they are more empathetic with other women than men are with other men.

When it comes to publicising the dangers of prostate cancer, perhaps The Other Theatre Company has highlighted a way forward for men’s health issues.