Some time ago, in a movie in which he plays an aging, drunken actor, Peter O’Toole, while drawing his penis from his trousers, reels into a female toilet full of women. There are shrieks of horror, and he is confronted by an angry matron who snarls at him, “Sir, this is for the ladies!". Looking down, O’Toole replies “Yes, madam, and so is this, but occasionally I have to pass some water through it".
And that summarises a man’s relationship with his penis. It only has a few functions – fornication, impregnation, masturbation, urination, and at least one of these is a regular daily requirement.
There are many synonyms and funny names for the penis as men feel obliged to entitle an item that commands so much of their attention during their lives. Prick, cock, dick, old fella, wife’s best friend, donger, willy, and (the classic) tallywhacker.
Now imagine the same penis has penile cancer. All the laughter stops abruptly, very very abruptly. This is the news that about 100 men are given every year in Australia and it can be a death sentence - the five-year survival rate at every stage is only about 50%.
Treatments range from minor surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, circumcision and the real biggie, amputation (penectomy). Imagine! “Off with his head”, isn’t a command from the King about a rebellious subject, it’s a directive from your oncologist.
All stages of this terrifying disease require a plethora of specialists – a patient may need oncologists, nurses, urologists, psychologists, sex therapists and plastic surgeons. And in addition to the obvious physical damage, there are a great many potential negative psychological effects – depression, sexual malfunction, loss of quality of life and difficulty with social interactions, self-image and mental well-being.
A major problem in Australia is the complete lack of any research into the interaction needed between the various services, the patients and their partners and families to ensure the best possible physical and mental outcomes.
ANZUP Cancer Trials Group intend to remedy this with an intensive research project involving all disciplines and including the recruitment across Australia of penile cancer sufferers and their partners to gain a comprehensive picture of how this disease can best be treated now and into the future.
ANZUP needs just $50,000.00 for this study. A drop in the ocean compared to what is spent on healthcare in Australia. Come to think of it, it’s a drop in the ocean compared to what’s spent on coffee everyday.
SO? You want to help (of course). If you go without a coffee for a week and send your savings, job done! Or go big, open your cheque-book and write out the biggest amount you can’t afford right now.