Today I met my dad for lunch. It was slightly contrived: I probably wouldn’t have suggested it if the timesheet for the A-Z of Movember hadn’t screamed, “THE 6TH IS F!!! WHAT THE F YOU GONNA DO?!”
Nonetheless we had a nice time at Vasco e Pierro in Soho, eating pasta, tiramisu and affogato. Highly recommended. To the right you can see us outside, showing our affection the usual Cragg way.
Just like I did to my poor unsuspecting brother on Saturday, I lassoed the conversation and cattle-prodded it onto the topic of health. My dad is in his late 60s now, but is in good health. He used to have an annual health check for work when he was full-time, so he is familiar with the procedures involved in checking a man’s health (…yes, I do mean that…), but he hasn’t had the works done for a little while.
He has in the meantime been tested for colon cancer through the NHS’ routine screening programme. Thankfully it came out clear, and the story of the test was amusing, about specifically how you are instructed to provide your stool.
It seems there is no routine testing for prostate cancer as there is for colon cancer in older people, or for breast/cervical cancer in women. I’m pretty surprised about this, but I suppose there may be a good reason. I know people I can ask about this, and ask I may well. By the end of the conversation, I had managed to convince my dad to go get a health check (…yes, I do mean that…), or at least I made him agree that I could write that he would in this blog. Same difference.
My dad is also something of a veteran mo hero, though he keeps it quiet. Last time moustaches were properly in fashion (sometime when Graeme Souness was playing, I guess), my dad was cheerfully sporting the below:
I can but dream. I did ask him (about 60% joking) if he would take part in Movember this year, but he couldn’t due to a work commitment where looking silly just wouldn’t do.
F is also for…FOxTROT. I spoke to my dad again this evening, and heard some sad news. His friend of many years has recently been diagnosed with cancer of the colon. Luckily it has been caught early, and his character enables him to deal with it with the same dry humour with which he tackles everything else. Shocking nonetheless.
He has accepted the chance, as a lot of people do these days, of joining a clinical trial. Trials offer people the chance of receiving treatments otherwise unavailable, on the proviso that they may not actually help more than current standard treatment. If the new treatments turn out to be the gold standard of the future, however, they will have benefited early.
I’m proud to work in clinical trials. It’s a slog, and just like any job it can feel a bit like drudgery at times, but it is rewarding to remember what we’re contributing towards: better treatments and better outcomes for unwell people. FOxTROT, like a new colon cancer trial I work with called FOCUS4, involves genetic testing before trial entry. The success or failure of certain treatments is linked to people’s genes, and we know more about this phenomenon in colon cancer than in some other cancers. This pre-treatment testing and sorting of people is part of the field known as personalised medicine, and is well worth reading up on, as it will only become more common as time goes on.
Finally, F is also for…Fanuary. Another antipodean invention (I think), slightly more divisive than Movember, and slightly more complicated to back up with a daily picture. Certainly on Facebook, anyway.
Please feel free to donate to my Movember campaign – all donations very much appreciated!