“Common sense is not that common.”
Bill Nye used this catchphrase to describe the stigmatization surrounding prostate cancer, the second most common cancer detected among men behind lung cancer. The science educator joined other media personalities on the runway at the seventh annual Blue Jacket Fashion Show, which raises awareness and funds for prostate cancer research.
While speaking to Variety on the red carpet, Nye discussed his late father’s battle with prostate cancer and how the survival rate is notably high for those diagnosed early on.
“My dad lived at a time when radiation therapy was very good, but it wasn’t as good as it could be,” Nye said on Wednesday night at Moonlight Studios in SoHo. “My brother and I keep an eye on prostate hormone because we don’t want to get it untreated. This is a very treatable cancer, but catching it early is really important. We think with more research, we can change the world.”
Kicking off the show was “Sex and the City” star Mario Cantone, who spun and danced down the runway while donning a suit designed by Gustavo Moscoso. Other notable participants included CNN anchor Don Lemon, supermodel Alex Lundqvist, actor Dominic Fumusa and “America’s Next Top Model” judge Nigel Barker. The afterparty was held at Loosie’s Nightclub beneath Moxy Lower East Side.
Cantone said he’s attended the show seven years in a row to honor his father, who died of prostate cancer in 1996. He hopes the event will encourage men to get a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test.
“Straight guys are afraid because it has to do with your rectum and they don’t want anything in it and they think that’s ‘gay’ if there is something in it,” Cantone said. “It’s stupid is what it is. Straight guys, I love them very much. They’re some of my biggest fans but I’ve got to smack them around a little bit once in a while and say, ‘Go get your shit checked!’”
The annual fundraiser, sponsored by Janssen Oncology, donates all proceeds to the nonprofit advocacy group Zero: The End of Prostate Cancer. For the first time, guests could get screened for prostate cancer onsite at the event with a PSA test provided by the Mount Sinai Hospital and Montefiore Medical Center.
“I’ve wanted it for several years and I’m so excited that we finally got Mount Sinai on board,” Blue Jacket co-founder Frederick Anderson said. “There are a lot of people who think testing is like this monumental thing, and it’s literally a tiny little draw of blood. It’s nice that they can have the experience with us and then now they’ll go on and regularly test because they realize it’s not that big of a deal.”
Anderson said he believes that more men have become comfortable with the idea of testing during the pandemic and that the stigma around it is slowly disappearing.
“The biggest part is knowing what’s going on with your body,” Anderson said. I think it’s easier for people to understand testing now after COVID, so it’s not so frightful.”
He continued, “I think that men talking about their prostate is fantastic! It’s like women talking about their breasts when it happened in the 90s — and we changed the stigma. The same thing is happening with men and the prostate.”