Personal struggle prompts public battle against prostate cancer

Anoop Dogra was sitting in his doctor’s office early this year when he got the terrible news. He had prostate cancer.

Dogra admits that the diagnosis was what inspired him to research the disease. He believes he was naïve in thinking that it would not affect him. He was shocked when he got the news.

“I was numb for a bit, but after a while you collect your thoughts and say you got to find a way to deal with it,” he said, “It’s one of those things that’s going on in your life, and you find a way to deal with it. It’s not easy.”

Prostate cancer, according to prostatecancer.ca, affects one in six men ages 40 and over. It’s the most common cancer among the male population. It is estimated that 24,600 men will be diagnosed in 2010, and of those 4,300 will die.

Dogra’s diagnosis also inspired him to take part in this year’s Movember initiative, a worldwide campaign that takes place throughout November.

The charity raises money and awareness for prostate cancer, much like the October campaign against breast cancer. Movember started in Australia in 2004, but this year, according to the website, Canada topped the list as having raised the most funds— $19,587,339 to be exact. The money was raised by 100,000 participants. Torontonians have been doing their fair share. In one month, Dogra single-handedly raised over $10,000. His team, the “Stash4CashBros,” raised over $24,000.

He admits that last month’s facial hair growth initially caused him to get some funny looks from those who were not aware of the Movember campaign.

“When I’m in this downtown core here, I got looks the first day I was out and people could see a moustache, but those looks have gone away ‘cause there’s more awareness,” he said.

Though the initiative attracts more attention with each year, Dogra pointed out that there is still quite a way to go to spread the word about prostate cancer.

“The awareness of breast cancer is great; more power to that cause. But I think this cause needs to be publicized more, talked about more,” he said, “This is my way of contributing to spreading the knowledge.”

With positive results continuing to come in, though, Dogra is optimistic.

“I’m not back to 100 per cent yet, but things are moving in the right direction,” he said.

Don Lato is another Movember participant, raising money in honour of two close friends who have been diagnosed with the disease. He, too, admits that more awareness is needed. He has been pleasantly surprised, though, at the large response he’s received thus far.

“People will respond and people are willing to help,” he said, “I guess I learned more about my friends than myself…as to how generous they are.”