Touch Yourself

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New campaign urges self-groping in the shower

Yes, I thought that headline would get your attention.

And you can imagine my surprise one fine morning, on stepping into the shower, to look up and see this: a laminated card hanging on the shower head, with a little talking hand, exhorting me to touch myself.

"Hey, naked guy How's it hangin'?" is the headline. The subheading is, "Seriously. Check your testes it could save your life!"

Not that I've ever needed any encouragement to poke at my dangly bits in the shower. In fact, for some parents with a house even a bed full of kids, it's probably the only place they can do so.

But I'll tell you this it did get my attention.

And with that, the device succeeded in its intent, which is to remind me of the need to check the boys' for suspicious lumps. And it's a gender-balanced card, with the other side being devoted to females. ("Ladies, how are the girls?" is the headline.)

The card was placed in the shower by my 16-year-old son, who was given it at school, after sitting in on "My Left Nut," a one-man show by Daniel Schneiderman. A Montreal actor and survivor of testicular cancer, Schneiderman is performing the show as part of the Touch Yourself, Trust Yourself campaign, presented by Young Adult Cancer.

According to my son, the presentation was highly informative, but also quite edgy, and peppered with plenty of coarse language. He said it was educational and entertaining at once, which is key to getting the message across in pretty much any situation.

There's a great story here by The Telegram's Tara Mullowney. Here's a quote from the article, actually an excerpt from the play:

"Most of us think we're invincible, right? Cancer, that's something that happens to old people or dogs. Well, look at me I was young, I was fit, I felt totally healthy. The fact is, in this game of life, you never know what cards you're gonna get dealt. Sometimes, no matter how prepared you try to be, life has this funny way of just jumping out and kicking you in the ass. Or in my case, it jumped out and kicked me in the balls."

The article is hosted at the Young Adult Cancer site, so, while there, feel free to, um, poke and prod around a little.

Young Adult Cancer is an offshoot of Realtime Cancer or perhaps it's the other way around. Anyway, Geoff Eaton, a cancer survivor from St. John's, is behind it. Lately, I've become a bit skeptical about organizations that raise money for cancer (this is a subject for another day). I am convinced, however, that Young Adult Cancer is a worthwhile group, doing important and valuable work. As with the Schneiderman presentation, they are raising awareness of prevention and early detection. But they also perform a valuable service for young cancer sufferers and survivors, recognizing that the cancer experience, such as loss of fertility, is entirely different when you're 24, compared to 54.

When I was in high school, any health information we received concerning sexual organs was limited to poorly-worded, badly-illustrated brochures about venereal disease. We seem to have come a long way.

And that's a damn good thing.

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