Sex or your life?

PHOTO: Sex or your life?

Call them reckless but that is how four Ah Peks (think, men about 55 years old) and three uncles (anyone married and below 55 years old) feel.

They declare: "What's life without sex?"

Prostate cancer? "What's that?" they ask. Okay, only one in the group of seven men admits to a "vague idea" about what it is.

And no, they don't know that it is the third most common cancer among men in Singapore.

For that matter, only eight from another 30 randomly polled men - between 22 and 69 years old - are able to point out correctly that the prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system.

This Ground Zero columnist met the group of men - four of whom were accompanied by their wives - at a coffee shop in Geylang on Friday night.

The topic was supposed to be the opening of Parliament tomorrow. But they weren't bothered.

Talk about sex? Yes.

Cabby Huang Zhenan, 50, asks in Mandarin: "This is the first time I am hearing (of prostate cancer and the link to impotence)."

He looks to the others, most of whom nod in agreement.

Mr Timothy Lee, 47, a shopkeeper, is almost correct when he says that what he knows is that "it's likely to develop in men over the age of 50".


 Cold, hard facts

 Cold, hard facts

Give them the harder facts and they all do a double-take.

On average, there are 534 new cases a year, and 105 deaths from prostate cancer in Singapore.

Madam Reena Tan, 51, a housewife, is the first to react at the table: "That sounds scary. Is there a cure? Can anything be done?"

Her husband, Koh Chiat Hock, 52, a hawker, adds: "It can't be so serious right? If not, we all should know about it."

Just a minute, men, there's more.

Firstly, a man can undergo surgery for prostate cancer, but that carries a risk that he may be left impotent.

Oral sex more dangerous thank smoking

And in another news report this week an American study suggests that the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can be spread by oral sex, may cause more cases of throat cancer in men than smoking.

"You are joking!" chorus all the men in unison.

Undertaker Freddie Ang, 48, who is divorced, says in Hokkien: "Like this, we may as well all become monks."

He reveals why his marriage of 26 years broke down.

"I was so peeved because each time I asked my wife for sex, she'd turn me down.

"And I can't bring myself to visit prostitutes while I was still married. I still love her very much, but I can't live without sex. "

Mr Lim Joo Eng, 45, a salesman, is sympathetic. He says: "You know what's the biggest blow to a man? That he loses his virility.

"And a healthy sex life is what keeps us going."

The men were unequivocal: Impotence is a no go.

Even if it means leaving prostate cancer untreated and losing their lives. 

'Die happy'

Die happy

Madam Cheong Huixin, 40, a seamstress, says: "I don't know about you (to the men at the table) but my husband will definitely not go for any surgery."

She smiles and turns to pat her husband Goh Ah Tee lovingly on his arm.

Mr Goh, 51, who is unemployed, breaks out in loud guffaws, and says: "My wife knows me best.

"To suggest living without sex is like living like a eunuch."

Another interesting conclusion turns up during this dialogue, as with the random poll.

Of the 37 men, only 20 admit to experiencing oral sex.

And of the 20, four insist that the women - not they - are the ones who perform oral sex.

Food court cleaner Ho Chio Lek, 52, says: "I think it's the younger men who risk having throat cancer from oral sex.

"We (the older men) probably get it from our excessive smoking."

The men are not being shallow.

But sex, clearly, is important to them because their manhood matters.

Mr Koh sums it up succinctly: "We will all die - it's only whether earlier or later.

"If it's not this cancer, it's that cancer. Why let it affect us and make our lives miserable?

"Even if I were to die tomorrow, I want to be happy."

This article was first published in The New Paper.