More old Ottawa Sun column fun.
July 17, 2007
Lululemon is prone to eye-catching windows.
But anyone walking past Edmonton's Whyte Avenue location last month could have been forgiven for doing a double-take.
The window featured two male mannequins with their pants around their ankles and several cheerful signs pasted to the window urging male passersby to "Play with your balls!"
Store merchandiser Karla Silva said the display was a cheeky way to get men thinking about the risk of testicular cancer.
"When guys scratch themselves, we laugh," she said. "So this is kind of aimed at what guys already do, but making it with a purpose."
Silva said the reaction to the window, which carried the balls theme throughout June, was great.
"One man came in and he was almost in tears, because he had lost a friend to testicular cancer," said Silva. "He thought it was awesome, because we're saying, 'this is what you have to do.'"
Lululemon has reintroduced a dressing room awareness tactic originally launched in late 2005: hanging waterproof self-exam tip sheets (breast self-exam instructions are on the other side) customers can take home and hang in the shower.
The how-to guide points out that an abnormality in the testicles does not necessarily mean cancer, the only way to know for sure is to be checked out by a doctor.
"Waiting and hoping will not fix anything," it cautions.
Lululemon, a yogawear and gear company devoted to good lifestyle and health, is all about starting conversations, says company spokeswoman Sara Gardiner.
Years of campaigning mean breast cancer is now an open topic, and they'd like to see the same thing happen with testicular cancer, she said.
"We're very much about taking conversations from the back room and bringing them to the forefront," she said.
Celebrities like actor Tom Green, figure skater Scott Hamilton and cyclist Lance Armstrong have already done a lot of work to get the issue out there, as have storylines in now-defunct television shows like Sex and the City, Felicity and The Drew Carey Show. Years later, the summer of 2007 is turning out to be a ballsy one, and not just because Lululemon is on the case.
New York Mets reliever Scott Schoeneweis, a testicular cancer survivor, was behind last month's Testicular Cancer Awareness Night at Shea Stadium in memory of a local broadcaster.
On July 7 the B.C. Cancer Foundation held its second annual Underwear Affair, a five- and 10-km walk/run to raise funds for below-the-waist cancers including testicular.
And Toronto student Rob Salerno debuted his new play Balls! -- a tragi-comedy about testicular cancer starring him and Adam Goldhamer -- at the Ottawa Fringe Festival in May. He is taking it to fringe festivals in London, Ont., this month and Hamilton, Ont., next and if all goes well, he hopes to stage it in Toronto and take it on a wider tour next summer.
Toronto-based Salerno, 23, wrote the play based on experiences with his pal, Vince Fazari, who died at 21 in 2004 after his testicular cancer spread.
Testicular cancer may be rare, but it's the most common form of cancer among young men and is usually treatable if caught early.
The topic has become less taboo since Fazari died, but more needs to be done, says Salerno, because guys usually just don't want to talk about their own, or anyone else's, private parts.
"There's definitely that fear, 'I don't want that happening to me,'" he said. "To a guy your balls and your d---, they're so important to your identity. If you don't have them, you're not a man."
Update: A good friend of mine died when he was 30 after ignoring his testicular cancer for years. Don't ignore things and hope they will go away!