Prostate cancer and how you can help kick it

Once a year or so I get roped into doing some charity thing or other because it seems like a good idea at the time. Last year I did 100 pushups a day for a month in aid of Cancer Research UK. This year, I somehow thought it wouldn’t be that hard to run a marathon over the course of a month (26 miles in 31 days? Pah!) for Prostate Cancer UK.

Thing is, I hate running. I used to be good at it, but I also used to be 23 years old. At that time I could run a 3 mile circuit and get home again before the bath was filled. I’m now more than twice that age and break into a sweat tying my trainers up.

I trialled a little run around the park by my house and it clocks in at 1.18, 1.19 or 1.20 miles depending on what mood my phone’s GPS is in. Either way, just about manageable for an old fart who can sprain a muscle if he doesn’t warm up before playing on the Xbox. The only downside is that there are no streetlights anywhere in the park, and it’s winter, which means I have limited daylight and the risk of ice. As such, my original plan of a quick run when I got home from work each night hasn’t been manageable so I’m having to cram the miles in when I can around the school run, work, parents’ evenings and so on.

Still, I’ve just passed the halfway mark as the month itself is half done so we’re getting there. I’ve also passed the halfway mark in the fundraising. So I changed my target so that people would keep donating. Yes, you. Go on – donate. Thank you. Oh, and don’t forget the Gift Aid. The government would only spend the money on something useless like sweeties or Brexit.

So what are you helping? The thing is, prostate cancer is pretty common but not too many people know about it. Or, indeed, prostates. Other cancers get a lot more (deserved) publicity. Leukaemia, for instance. Yes, that’s a cancer. And breast cancer. Because breasts are pretty obvious and awesome and everyone likes them (except for people who actually own them, as I gather they’re either too big and therefore painful, or too small and therefore everyone else’s are better). But we all like boobs. It’s not just a male thing, either. I know gay ladies who do find a nice pair very appealing in a partner. All the sex stuff aside, is there anything more serene than a mother nursing her baby? Exactly, breasts are great in so many ways. And breast cancer affects men and women (though predominantly the fairer sex).

Prostate cancer is a male only thing as only men have them (and I include in this trans-women – the prostate isn’t removed during reassignment surgery, so please be aware that prostate cancer can still be a “thing”). The prostate gland is a small structure, mainly used during sex to create the fluid that sperm resides in. A simplified description and one which pretty much explains why the prostate definitely isn’t as sexy as boobs.

While mammograms aren’t a picnic, prostates are examine by a GP shoving a hopefully lubricated and gloved) finger up your bum. As the joke goes, if you can feel their hands in your shoulders while they’re doing this, you should be charging them by the hour… Prostate cancer can also be tested for by using a blood test. Macmillan Cancer has a nice bit of info on it.

In the UK, 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lifetime, comparable to the 1 in 7 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer. While 23% of breast cancer cases are preventable, prostate cancer is not, though there may be ways to lower the risk.

By supporting charities such as Prostate Cancer UK, we can help research this nasty beast and work out ways to reduce its likelihood, to improve treatment, raise awareness and make tests easier and more reliable.

So even if you can’t donate (I get it, it’s January, you’re broke after wasting money on crap presents that nobody really wanted or needed last month), then at least read up a little on it. Make others more aware. See if you’re in a risk category and consider getting tested just in case. As with any cancer, the sooner you spot the thing, the more likely it is you’ll beat it.

That donation link again. Thanks.

Fraud Warning

We all say “it won’t happen to me”, but it’s just happened to someone I know. One convincing phone call and they’ve lost £2000 – pretty much all the money they had.

I’ve heard of this one before, but it’s been a while so it’s worth reminding people how easy it is for these scum to defraud you and how confident they are in doing so. Also how hard it is to get your money back, if at all, afterwards. The banks aren’t exactly bending over backwards to refund it – Santander in this case. First contact said the bank wouldn’t cover it, advised them to go to a high street branch, but transferred them to the fraud department. Last I spoke to them they were still on hold after over an hour.

The scam began with a phone call which was identified by their phone as coming from Santander. The person on the end knew their details (name, phone, account) and answered enough questions to identify themselves as being bank staff. If I’ve picked it up right, they knew the answers to his security questions.

Apparently his account was frozen as someone had spent £199 in Liverpool which they thought was odd. He confirmed it wasn’t him and they told him he had to close that account and move everything to a new one for security.

In small amounts.

This should ring alarm bells. A bank can transfer thousands in a go. The only reason for chunking it is to avoid flags going up for a large transfer. Try and shift £2000 in one go and expect something to ping on an app, opr request a code sent to a phone. Shift, say, £200 ten times and it may ping eventually, but not for a while. Long enough for them to steal a fair bit.

So that’s what happened. A disguised phone call from someone with a good story and far too many convincing details (we have no idea how they got hold of them), and an unsympathetic bank.

We’ll see how it goes tomorrow when they approach an actual branch, but I fear the money is gone. I’ve advised them to inform the police. They likely can’t help, but it’s useful to them to have a record of this happening.

So be careful. If you get a call from “your bank” with a similar story, get the details and hang up. Ensure the call has disconnected – this is more an issue with landlines. Look up their number (check the back of your bank card, for instance) and call them back. That way you know you’re talking to someone genuine.

Header image by Mohamed Hassn via Pixabay

Bye-bye Facebook

Finally, I’ve had enough.

If it’s not the privacy issues (I’m actually not that concerned about those, to be honest), it’s the terrible interface. If it’s not the broken algorithms determining what you see and when, it’s the broken algorithms that determine whether what you’ve written is “hateful”.

Sod it, Facebook. I’m off. I have to maintain a presence for the sake of Moshville Times, but I doubt I’ll be posting on my feed, checking comments, responding to others’ posts and so on again in the near future. I’ve disabled all notifications on my phone and deleted the app from all my other devices.

Moshville Times will no longer be paying for post “Boost” because, frankly, it’s not worth it.

If you want to read any ramblings, bookmark this page or figure out RSS (it almost seems to be making a comeback) so you can get notified of every single post not just the ones some bonkers algorithm bothers to tell you about. Hell, I might draft a post sometime soon detailing how to access RSS these days. It’s surprisingly easy.

If you want to get in touch with me, or let me know about your event or something, then I can be contacted via Messenger (yes, I know it’s FB), WhatsApp (yes, I know it’s FB), Twitter, personal email, work email, Moshville Times email, Moshville Times website, text message, comments on here, Kik, Telegram, Duo, Skype, Beacon… In other words, if your only method of contacting/notifying me is posting on facebook, then you’re not trying hard enough and whatever it is can’t be that important.

Don’t contact me via Instagram. Not because it’s FB, but because its messaging system is crap.

And, yes, I appreciate the irony in my last facebook post being one pointing you to this blog post… I also appreciate that only about 5% of my “Friends” will likely ever see the damn link. But that’s one of the reasons I’ve had it.

World Mental Health Day – a little story

Enough time has passed since it happens that I think I can share this without giving away who the person is, just in case anyone on here knows them. Highly doubtful, but discretion is important.
I’m on a few online forums, chat groups and so on. I was browsing posts and status updates on one a couple of months ago when I saw a status: “Had enough. Just can’t take any more.” That was it. Nobody I knew, but popped up on the group updates.
So I dropped them a quick message. Just a couple of lines offering them someone to talk to if they wanted, including my phone number. If they didn’t want to talk to me, I advised them to call a friend or see a GP.
Three days later they replied. They’d read my message, called a taxi and gone to A&E where they explained to someone there what was going through their mind. They were cared for, settled down and put onto the track to recovery.
I don’t know what would have happened if I’d not messaged. Maybe they’d have been fine anyway. Maybe that was the kick they needed. But something that took me a fraction of the time it’s taken to draft this post, I feel, made a difference that evening – and a very important one.
Keep an eye out for each other, and that includes people you don’t know. It takes a moment to ask if someone’s OK and a simple act of caring can make all the difference.