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Facebook tells story of cancer battle

Humorous posts recount prostate difficulties

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Thousands of Canadian men will shave their moustaches as Movember winds down, but a Gimli man is using Facebook and humour to ensure men keep having the conversation about prostate cancer.

Retired teacher and army veteran Keith Rankin, 53, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in May after getting tested. He said he was shocked to discover he had the disease.

"I thought prostate cancer was an old man disease," said Rankin. "The tumour was within one millimetre of coming out of the prostate and had it came out, I would have needed chemotherapy. The cancer was contained and I felt like I won the lottery."

Instead of hushing up about his situation, Rankin took to Facebook to give updates about his fight to beat the disease. He knows if he had not been tested, the cancer might have killed him and he wanted to do what he could to make sure his friends were getting tested, too.

Rankin posted a Facebook status update every day for 25 days following his radical prostatectomy surgery, a process in which the prostate gland is removed through an incision in the abdomen.

"I tried to put a humorous spin on the situation to make the topic seem less daunting for men," Rankin said. "Guys just don't sit around and talk about prostate cancer, but if more were comfortable with it, then maybe more would get checked. I put it out there so people that saw it had to think about it. How will people learn if they don't talk about it?"

Rankin's Facebook posts have focused on the absurdity of dealing with prostate cancer while pleading with men to get checked.

One status update posted three days after his surgery read: "Still have all the tubes in but pain is minimal. Accidentally flashed my ass three times today, they should have fasteners on the back! lol. They don't have wifi here so I had to use my iPhone as a hotspot! lol Guys make sure you get your PSA done on your next exam, I'd like to keep my friends around as long as possible."

Pete Bombaci, national director of Movember Canada, said it is humour like Rankin is using that is most effective when speaking to men about their health.

"Humour is first and foremost in the world of men," said Bombaci. "For many men casual conversation works while direction doesn't. For him to put himself out there for his friends is a heroic act."

Bombaci said casual conversation is the reason Movember has been such a success.

"That is why Movember is so powerful. Guys wear the moustaches and it starts the conversation. Often it's that conversation that leads to guys getting checked. It's become a global movement that has changed the face of men's health."


Read Rankin's prostate cancer journal at


The Movember movement began in 2003 in Australia with 30 "Mo Bros."


The total number of people registered with Movember worldwide as of Nov. 28.


The total number of Canadian men who have registered for Movember.


The dollar amount raised by Movember Canada.


No. 1

Canada has raised the most money for Movember of any country in the world.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 29, 2012 A13

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