Being cancer positive

16 October 2017: What do Hugh Masekela, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Robert de Niro, Ben Stiller and David Lucas, an ‘ordinary guy’ from Johannesburg have in common?

Like many of the men you are in contact with daily, they have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in South African men, with more than 4000 men diagnosed annually. When detected early, prostate cancer survival rates are better than 98%. Find it late, and those survival rates drop below 26%.

“There is a lack of awareness and general knowledge about prostate cancer. Know the facts and take action early,” says Garron Gsell, chief executive and founder of the Men’s Foundation, which manages the Movember campaign in South Africa under license from the Movember Foundation.

“When it comes to their health, too many men don’t talk and don’t take action.  The tragedy is that many men have died early and unnecessarily because they didn’t reach out for help when they needed it.”

Movember is the leading global men’s health charity, funding over 1,200 projects in 21 countries worldwide – focusing on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.

“Know your family history and if you notice something isn’t feeling right, don’t put it off and hope it goes away. Annual health checks are vital, along with a monthly testicular self-examination which can help make you aware of your body and able to note any changes,”Gsell says.

“We can’t afford to stay silent. We have one goal: to stop men dying too young. Join the global movement helping men live happier, healthier, longer lives. Help spread awareness and raise funds for men’s health. Sign up as a Mo Bro or Mo Sista at and be the difference in a man’s life.”

Prostate cancer survivor David Lucas says that until he had the disease, he would never have thought that anything positive could come out of it.

Lucas says the diagnosis has been a blessing in disguise. “I would have thought of it as a life sentence. But now I totally agree with Judge Neels Claassen who says that cancer patients are favoured by God.”

For someone whose cancer journey has not been easy due to delays in treatment and battles with medical aid, and who is still not completely clear of the disease, it may seem like a strange thing to say. But for Lucas who turned 60 in September, his cancer diagnosis in 2012 allowed him to make many positive decisions about his life.

“I have been given the time to make things right,” he says. “I am determined to really live for at least the next 20 years.

Lucas is the first to admit that the prostate examination is not pleasant, and that a positive diagnosis means some very embarrassing moments during treatment “but it is a whole lot more pleasant than dying too soon”.

“If I had diabetes, I would have to make a complete lifestyle change and to give up many of the things I love,” he says. “Now that I have prostate cancer, the biggest change in my life has been my determination to reach out to other men and to make them aware of the need for regular check-ups. Don’t let anything stand in the way of you getting the medical advice and care that you need.”


Note to Editor

Who’s at risk?

Your risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age, but that doesn’t mean it’s a disease that only affects old men. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide. Men who have a family history (a brother or father with prostate cancer), are 2.5x more likely to get prostate cancer.

If you’re 50, you should be talking to your doctor about PSA testing. If you have a brother or father with prostate cancer in their history, do it at 45.

What’s a PSA test?

It’s a simple routine blood test.

It’s used to determine the measurement of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) concentration in the blood, it is the primary method of testing for prostate cancer. You should be talking to your doctor about whether testing is right for you.

The facts about prostate cancer

Only men have a prostate gland. The prostate gland is usually the size and shape of a walnut and grows bigger as you get older. It sits underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra, which is the tube men urinate and ejaculate through. Its main job is to help make semen – the fluid that carries sperm.

Prostate cancer occurs when some of the cells in the prostate reproduce far more rapidly than normal, resulting in a tumour. Prostate cancer often grows slowly to start with and may never cause any problems. But some men have prostate cancer that is more likely to spread. These prostate cancer cells, if left untreated, may spread from the prostate and invade distant parts of the body, particularly the lymph nodes and bones, producing secondary tumours in a process known as metastasis.

Detecting prostate cancer

Not everyone experiences symptoms of prostate cancer. Many times, signs of prostate cancer are first detected by a doctor during a routine check-up.

Some men, however, will experience changes in urinary or sexual function that might indicate the presence of prostate cancer.

Signs and symptoms

  • A need to urinate frequently, especially at night
  • Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Difficulty in having an erection
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs


About Movember

Join the Movement for Men’s Health and stop men dying too young. Grow, MOVE, host, donate. Help spread awareness and raise funds for men’s health. Sign up as a Mo Bro or Mo Sista at and be the difference in a man’s life.

Movember is the leading global men’s health charity, funding over 1,200 projects in 21 countries worldwide – focusing on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.

Movember is ranked 49th out of the top 500 NGOs (non-governmental organisations) around the world and is the largest non-governmental funder of men’s health programmes globally, delivering innovative, breakthrough research and support programmes that enable men to live happier, healthier and longer lives.

In South Africa, Movember is grown and groomed by The Men’s Foundation of South Africa under license from the International Movember Foundation. The Men’s Foundation is developing and implementing global programmes, as well as their own programmes, while working with local beneficiary partners, to identify, develop and fund men’s survivorship and research programmes that meet the global objectives of the Movember Foundation.

Since 2010, over R25 million has been donated to the Cancer Association of South Africa through local Movember efforts. These funds have been invested in a Patient Navigation Programme, Cancer Cohort Programme and an on-line patient support centre. Iron Man, its biggest single investment in one programme, will be launched in the coming weeks.

Get Involved

  • Sign up as a Mo Bro or Mo Sista at Start a team at work or join a team and choose to grow or MOVE for the month. Include your fundraising target or move target for support and donations.
  • Growing? Begin the 1st of Movember with a clean-shaven face for the entire month of Movember, grow and groom a real moustache – don’t fake it.
  • MOVE’íng – Mo Bros & Sista’s, begin 1st Movember with your daily, weekly and monthly challenge, e.g. climb a 100 steps a day, 100km’s a month etc.
  • Using the power of your MOVE commitment or Mo growing efforts, create conversations around men’s health and raise funds.
  • Follow your fundraising efforts on the leaderboards, which close early December for prizing and rewards.


For further info on programmes we fund, official merchandise, how to fundraise etc., visit


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Issued by:                                Magna Carta PR

Nabiella De Beer

084 697 8102



On behalf of:                          Movember South Africa