Lifestyle 1.11.2013 06:30 am

Fighting cancer… with speedos

An eyeful. Last year's Etana Daredevil Run. Picture: Supplied.

An eyeful. Last year's Etana Daredevil Run. Picture: Supplied.

The words “testicular or prostate cancer” are sure to make the colour drain from any man’s face.

The good news is that a brave group of men have found a way to get that colour back in your cheeks in the form of a deep red blush, induced by the sight of a gaggle of skimpy red Speedos bobbing down the street.

The Etana Daredevil Run will see thousands of men across the country don scarlet swimsuits and run through peak hour traffic on November 8, to raise awareness and funds for this particular form of cancer – one that men, in general, tend to ignore.

“The first thing male friends and fathers of school children asked me was ‘how did you find out?’ Men don’t talk to each other or go to the doctor,” says cancer survivor and teacher Torsten Koehler.

“We make jokes that are below the belt, but as soon as it gets serious there, we don’t talk. I think men are scared they are not man enough anymore if they go through testicular or prostate cancer. The next question always is: does it affect your sex life? Does it still work? I always answer: ‘Think of a pistol. A marksman doesn’t need more than one magazine to hit the target!’ referring to having only one testicle,” he explains with a wink. “I have realised that people don’t know what to say when they meet me, but I think it’s not only because of testicular cancer.

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It’s because of cancer in general. Cancer sounds like a death sentence. So what to say to someone that’s just being diagnosed? How are you? Well, they ‘know’ how you are. It’s like meeting someone for the first time after a family member has passed away. We don’t know what to say. We don’t know how to deal with death. My male friends were okay with it after I started the conversation on testicular cancer. They were curious and scared at the same time. Often they came back to me with comments like, after our talk the other day I immediately checked my balls, or, I admire your courage in being so open about what happened to you.”

Through early detection, Koehler was able to make a full recovery. He has now made it his mission to spread the word about self-examination and catching the disease before it becomes a life-threatening problem.

“My cancer was at an early stage and hadn’t spread to my body. I had two sessions of che-motherapy at five days each. The longer you wait to see your GP, the longer and harder the treatment. Early detected testicular cancer is 96% curable,” he says, quoting recently released statistics from the United Kingdom.

Koehler will be joining the other bikini-bottom wearing runners who will take to the streets on November 8.

“The event means a lot to me. I wish it could be every month,” he says with a smile. “It is important to raise awareness. Only a few men know that testicular cancer is a young man’s cancer, most common in the age group 15 to 38. I randomly read in a book about testicular cancer when preparing sex education lessons for school – this is how I found out. Running in a red speedo is definitely more in the face than some odd book.

“I love this event! The first run that I did was fun. It took a lot of courage for some guys to run only in a red Speedo, but they did it. And we were definitely visible and raised awareness.”

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