A Healthy Dose of Humour

    How one grad started a conversation about men’s health

    By Felicia Zuniga on August 4, 2016

    Calgary corporate lawyer Ben Samaroo, ’10 BCom, ’13 JD, spends his days dealing with company mergers, acquisitions and hostile takeovers. But by night he turns his attention to writing. He recently self-published Sincerely, Your Prostate, an illustrated book of “love letters” written from the point of view of a possessive hemorrhoid, a shy bladder, a lonely prostate and a wistful penis. The book is intended to get readers laughing but also thinking about men’s health and the stigmas that surround it. We asked Samaroo for five take-aways from his experience creating the book and pushing people beyond their comfort zones.

    Guy talk about health can be liberating — and hilarious. “I have a group of really close guy friends, all U of A law school alumni. As millennials we’re pretty comfortable sharing personal information, but talking about our health still seems to make men of any age feel weak and embarrassed. One day I mentioned the issue of hemorrhoids. After everyone laughed and ribbed me, they started opening up about their own experiences with hemorrhoids and other health concerns. Just for fun after our conversation, I wrote a poem about a hemorrhoid that won’t leave this guy alone, no matter how hard he tries to get rid of it. I emailed it to my friends and they thought it was hilarious.”

    A picture is worth a thousand words. “I ended up writing three more poems about subjects all men experience but never talk about. I had them illustrated by a freelance artist, and when she sent the first sketch of a guy with tears in his eyes with a hemorrhoid coming out from behind and hugging him, I thought it was perfect. It completely captured the defeated feeling you have when you experience something like hemorrhoids. I thought guys would read the poems and not only laugh but think, ‘I’ve been there, I’ve felt the exact same,’ and it might make them more comfortable talking about their health or seeing a doctor.”

    “Prostate” in the subject line of an email can lead to problems. “I put the book together using Amazon’s CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform and emailed it to about 50 friends and family with the title as the subject line. A bunch of them thought my computer had a virus. Half never received it because a lot of providers block the email if it has a word like ‘prostate’ in the title.”

    The prime minister of Canada has some serious sway. “Justin Trudeau, whose father, Pierre Trudeau, ’68 LLD (Honorary), had prostate cancer, and Brett Wilson, who battled prostate cancer twice, have both endorsed the book on social media. I also connected with the Men’s Health Network and the Canadian Cancer Society, where I’ll be donating 100 per cent of proceeds from sales of the book.”

    I’m not an expert — so go to a doctor! “Co-workers, friends, family, and even strangers, have started opening up to me about their colonoscopies and prostate exams. I am not a doctor! But it’s great to see barriers breaking down and conversations starting. Every man faces these issues and we shouldn’t feel alone. There are still many more men’s health issues that we need to discuss — from sexually transmitted infections to bladder cancer to erectile dysfunction — so I am thinking about writing a sequel.”

    Sincerely, Your Prostate is available through Amazon.ca. This interview has been edited and condensed.