After seeing how many of her friends' brothers, fathers and boyfriends were being diagnosed with cancer - and realising male awareness was being overlooked - Sofia Davis took action, and established 'One For The Boys'.
It sounds like an outdated stereotype – that men don’t go to the doctor. Hell, they’re probably too busy fixing lightbulbs, counting their abdominal muscles and drinking beer in front of the football to bother. But statistics tell us for once, there’s a level of truth to the cliche: Nearly twice as many men as women avoid seeking professional medical help – and they’re more likely to end up in hospital as a result.
That’s until now. Charity ‘One For The Boys’ is doing everything it can to educate men about the dangers of waiting to get checked out, to raise awareness of the different types of cancer that they’re at risk from, and help get men to see their GP.
‘The campaign was inspired by my friend Simon,’ one of the co-founders, Sofia Davis, tells us. ‘He’d lost his brother to brain cancer, so we organised fundraising events to raise money, and they went really well. But a few years later, he seemed really low. I asked him how I could help, but he was like, ‘there’s nothing more you can do’. I work as Samuel L Jackson’s publicist, so I asked him if he had any ideas. Together, we started looking into it – but other than Movember (which is really specific to prostate/testicular cancer) I couldn’t find any campaigns that supported men with cancer.’
‘That’s why I wanted to start a charity that was more than a one off fundraising event – I wanted it to focus on education, and to organize activities that guys could be interested in, in the hope of raising awareness through fun things and starting a conversation. Because it really feels like there’s something for women every month of the year. Whereas for men, there’s just Movember.’
It makes sense. And now, with celebrity support from the likes of Paloma Faith and Michael Douglas (to name just a few), OFTB is hosting its second Fashion Ball at the Roundhouse in Camden on Friday to raise awareness of the campaign.
‘It’s so exciting,’ enthuses Sofia. ‘Samuel L. has been calling people, Dylan Jones from the British Fashion Council has been calling people. We’ve got such an amazing line-up, too. SIA’s headlining, and is flying in just for us. We’ve got John Newman, Andreya – who was just on Jools Holland – Adam Lambert, and I just found out that Mark Ronson is doing the after party. Obviously, we’ve been working 20-hour days to pull the whole thing off within our budget, but everybody’s been jumping to help us.’
But as fun as the event sounds, the message behind it is serious. ‘Guys are notorious for ignoring things that could be wrong with them,’ says Sofia. ‘So if you see that your boyfriend seems uncomfortable or secretive, speak to him on a level that he’ll understand. Tell him to listen up, and to go and get checked, because men and women leave it too late sometimes.’
‘I had a friend who had a problem with their neck,’ she adds. ‘They said it hurt, but they just ignored it, ignored it and ignored it. And then they went to the doctor and literally died two weeks to the day that they got diagnosed. This happens to so many men, and so many women. So I’m not being melodramatic, and I’m not exaggerating – it’s a matter of life or death.’
Support One For The Boys by tweeting with the hashtag #OFTBsaysomething, or by visiting their website, here.