Zooming Towards a Self-Exam Record

Virtually Anything Is Possible – The Robin Cancer Trust Aims to Break the World Record for Largest Simultaneous Self-Exam

In 2017, I made a trip to my alma mater to participate in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for Largest simultaneous self-check for testicular cancer. This event was organized by fellow Shippensburg grad and Band of Ballers alum, Jason Greenspan. Long story short, we did it and got 236 men to touch themselves in public. 

Fast forward to 2021 and another Band of Ballers member stepped forward to take on the challenge. Toby Freeman of the Robin Cancer Trust organized an attempt to again break the record… this time virtually. I chatted with him about how his experience went. 

ABSOT: What did you aim to do? 

Toby Freeman: Our aim was simple: bring together as many men as possible, from all across the world, to check their balls!

ABSOT: Why did you aim to do it?

TF: Firstly, we wanted to educate a worldwide audience on the signs and symptoms of testicular cancer, and the importance of checking once a month. Everyone who attended left with the knowledge of how to check, why to check and when to check – and could take that information and help raise awareness, reduce embarrassment and save lives across the world.

Secondly, we wanted a reason to bring guys together after an incredibly difficult and isolating year in lockdown. We knew that cancer referrals had fallen by 75% due to the pandemic, and that many men would be putting off visiting their doctors – so to bring all these men together for a virtual social event and break the stigma of talking about such a sensitive issue was incredibly important.

ABSOT: Nothing says togetherness with the boys than having the boys take care of their “boys” together. Tell me about the day of the event.

TF: Great things happen when passion meets opportunity – a small group of us had this crazy idea, and in a few short weeks we were sitting (socially distanced) in our friend’s studio filming behind-the-scenes and on Zoom talking to hundreds of men across the world!

We picked a time (2pm BST) that worked well for a worldwide audience – so people from every timezone could join us – and they did. Once everyone had joined us, we jumped right in with telling our attendees who we were, why we organised the event and most importantly – how to check themselves! 

Everyone (bar me, as I was busy explaining what to do with our prosthetic testicles), stood back, put their hands down their trousers and checked themselves together! We had a volunteer counting the attendees who let us know that we’d brought together the most people ever for a testicular self-exam!

ABSOT: Quite a different Zoom call than most people have been used to, but much more educational (and entertaining) I’m sure. What were participants’ reactions?

TF: The feedback we got was incredible – because it was a truly worldwide event, we had men attending from a range of countries and communities, some of whom have a lot of stigma and a lack of education about subjects like testicular cancer. Hearing the difference we’d made, and how empowered they felt to help other men was amazing. 

ABSOT: What were the final results?

TF: We had 260 men from 25 countries across 5 continents join us on Zoom – the most men ever brought together for a simultaneous testicular self-exam, and a world-first on a Zoom call!

ABSOT: Sounds like an incredible and truly… touching experience. Do you plan to try to break it in person in a post-COVID world?

TF: YES! In a strange twist of fate, Darren Couchman – who set the original world-record in 2010 – has joined The Robin Cancer Trust as our Community Engagement Officer! So I think we owe it to him to try and break the world record in-person when we are allowed.

A self exam is how most cases of testicular cancer are detected early. Click the image for video directions or click here for a larger version

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