A note of thanks to Fritz...
You can tell a lot about a mechanic by looking at his toolbox. I've heard that apprentices once had to construct their own and present it at job interviews as an example of the quality of their work. What does my toolbox say about me? It's covered with family photos, and there's a bin for battery recycling, a Melitta coffee maker, and that Fat Cyclist jersey hanging on the end to dry.
Yes, a very pink Fat Cyclist jersey. There's a story to accompany it, of course, because anything that pink just has to have a story.
A few months ago, Fatty wrote that his wife, Susan, would be going through a second round of chemotherapy and radiation. She had been in remission. I can't begin to imagine the stress that family is experiencing. While Mary and I live with the effects of her muscular dystrophy, my pitifully human imagination can't stretch enough to encompass the emotional impact of a cancer diagnosis. Maybe that's a blessing.
As a fund raiser for cancer research, Fatty designed this jersey and offered it for sale. Truthfully, I didn't buy one. No, this jersey came from Fritz over on Cycle-licious as a big thank-you for some of the writing I've done for him. To my way of thinking, I'm grossly overpaid. But thanks, Fritz! I promise I'll wear it often.
Wearing this jersey is a small thing, a tiny thing in the greater scheme of life, and while pink isn't exactly my favorite color, I'll wear this and wear it proudly. I deliberately hung it over the end of my tool box. Numerous co-workers commented on it this morning, some snickering until I explained the purpose. Some shared cancer stories involving friends and family. I learned a lot about my co-workers, things I never knew and never suspected. Many have been touched by cancer in one way or another.
But that got me thinking about some old pieces I'd written, pieces about those silent killers: high blood pressure, prostate and testicular cancer, colon cancer, and breast cancer.
High blood pressure has no outward symptoms. The only way to detect it is to have your blood pressure checked. This is fairly easy as many drugstores have a free BP machine out front. I discovered there's a difference in pressure between my right and left arms, so it's important to test the same arm consistently. Treatment can include various drugs, and those old standbys, diet and exercise – just what a cyclist wants to hear! (LINK)
Men are at risk from two other silent killers, prostate and testicular cancers. A prostate exam is unpleasant, but it's the most reliable way of detecting an enlarged prostate early. And early detection is the best preventative. You can learn to do a self-exam for testicular anomalies. (LINK)
Women can detect breast cancer with a self examination, too. (LINK)
Colon cancer is another silent killer that effects both men and women. It has no symptoms until it's well advanced. In my case, a family history of rectal polyps and colon cancer led my doctor to recommend I get a colonoscopy at age 50. Again, it's not pleasant, but the alternative is far worse. (LINK)
Last night we talked about all this at dinner. Now, in our house, a family dinner can go into free fall very quickly as the blonds at the table roar off on conversational tangents. We were talking about the Fat Cyclist jersey and I said to Mary that she should consider getting a mammogram. “Do you know how they do those?” she shot back. “They hurt!”
“Well, I have to go in for an annual prostate exam, you know, and they're not fun either!”
“I don't have a prostate!”
How can you argue with logic like that? I'll bring it up again and again until she gets the exam. I love her too much to let it go.