Blush: HPV and You

My friends and I are getting to the age when our kids are getting shots that were not available when we were young.

The chicken pox vaccine, for one. (Varicella)

I, personally, had a very severe case of chicken pox over Christmas when I was 7 years old. My dad (and his mother) weren’t sure if he had had it as a kid, so I wasn’t allowed to go near him OR my 3 year old baby sister. Not a great Christmas.

Now, there’s a vaccine that prevents the horrible, full-body-and-sometimes-inside-the-mouth-and-on-the-eyelids, itchy rash. I’m ALL FOR IT. The vaccine, I mean.

But there’s another vaccine that wasn’t around when I was young: HPV9.

Giant Microbe of HPV (Human Papillomavirus). Image from

I heard about it in University. I was still under the age limit to get it for free, and chose not to. I think that was a mistake. I was not very well informed about it and I regret not looking into it better.

Because the HPV9 vaccine protects against 7 types of HPV that cause types of cervical cancer, anal cancer, and genital warts.

And, more importantly, you can get HPV without having had sex.

Because HPV is transmitted via skin-to-skin contact, if someone with HPV touches their genitals (say, wiping after going to the bathroom), doesn’t wash their hands (ew), and then touches you….you have a pretty good chance of catching it.

So if you have the chance, please get the HPV9 vaccine. It is super safe and will protect you for the rest of your life.


Immunize BC
Healthlink BC
Live Science

If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

Blush: Prostates

So far we have received almost three digits worth of questions, but I’m greedy, and I want more! Ask us your anonymous questions here!

Have you noticed lately that men have been growing mustaches and/or beards for Movember this month? My dad is growing a beard to support a friend, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Movember - grow a mustache or beard to support Prostate Cancer research. Image from
Movember – grow a mustache or beard to support Prostate Cancer research. Image from


What is a prostate? Should I be worried about prostate cancer?


A prostate is a smallish gland located, in biological males, in between the bladder and the penis. I found this anatomy slider incredibly useful in understanding where everything is. (Link is not particularly safe for work – there is a flaccid penis.) It surrounds the urethra, and during ejaculation, it releases a nourishing and protective fluid that helps the sperm travel through the urethra.

Prostate cancer is like any other cancer; cells that should replenish themselves normally go haywire and reproduce themselves so quickly (and abnormally) that they end up causing a tumour. These cells will also eventually travel to other parts of the body, and this is when it gets difficult to treat.

Should I be worried about it happening to me?

If you’re biologically female, no. If you’re biologically male, well, that’s why you should get tested by your doctor regularly. As with PAP tests checking for cervical cancer for people with a cervix, people with a prostate should be tested for prostate cancer.

There  are some things that will make you more likely to get prostate cancer (each type of cancer has the typical causes list: mesothelioma resources, breast cancer predisposition, etc). The older you are (over 50), the more likely you are to get it. Having family history of this type of cancer means you are more likely to get it (check also: Mesothelioma Explained). And, apparently, if you are ethnically African or Caribbean. Overweight, or not having a healthy diet, may also contribute (although I feel like doctors say that for everything).

Signs and Symptoms

“Common signs and symptoms of prostate cancer may include:

  • Difficulty urinating
  • Urgent need to urinate
  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Burning or pain when urinating
  • Inability to urinate or difficulty starting or stopping urine flow
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Blood in the urine or semen

Symptoms are not always present especially in the early stages of prostate cancer. If detected and treated in its earliest stages (when cells are only in the prostate), your chances of survival are greatly increased. Early detection is key.” (Source quoted directly, due to the importance of the topic.)

What sort of testing will I have to go through?

This really depends on your doctor, but there are three main testing methods that might be used.

  1. Digital Rectal Exam – This is exactly what it sounds like. Your doctor will lube up his finger and insert it into the anus. He will feel for abnormalities on the surface of the prostate.
  2. PSA Blood Test – The blood test will look for a protein that only the prostate makes in your blood.
  3. Biopsy – This is only done if the doctor finds an abnormality in previous tests. They will refer you to a urologist to take a sample of the prostate to determine if the abnormality is, in fact, cancerous.

Final Thoughts

Biologically male or female, prostate cancer can affect you, either directly or indirectly. Tell the men in your life (or yourself, if you are male) to talk to their doctors about getting tested. Mild discomfort for a few minutes could save their (or your) lives. And if you’re reading this, I care about you. So please, talk to your doctor about prostate cancer!


The Quest and The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Hello my Imaginary Friends,

Some days require more coffee than others. Feel free to quote me on that.

The Quest

A few weeks ago my brother recommended that I check out The Quest. I wasn’t all that interested at first but then I watched an episode.

Let’s just say that so far I’m loving it!

For those that don’t know, it’s a reality show with a scripted storyline, set in a fantasy world. The major reason I didn’t want to see it was my lack of faith in reality TV. I expected it to be filled with bad versions of fantasy with hammy actors and cut throat pretty people as contestants.

I was wrong. It seems everyone involved loves Fantasy and they’ve gone to great depths to make it awesome. The actors are great, the contestants are fantasy geeks.

It does like to spend time on drama and some of the challenges feel a little low budget but it’s a lot of fun.

I particularly like the Hag who lives in the woods. She really got into it.

Watch it on ABC in the US or CityTv in Canada.


I have a bad habit of being inspired by things that I like. The Quest isn’t an exception.

While I watched, I wondered what if the cameras were hidden and the contestants started to wonder if it was real or not. Imagine the emotional effect of the end of second act realization that all the “Banished” characters were killed.

Think what it would mean for the characters who don’t understand it isn’t a game.

I really like this idea for a novel and I’ve even written a proof of concept for one of the characters. I was expecting it to be 500 words but it quickly ballooned to 2000.

I’ll post it on Thursday.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I was challenged and then challenged my wife.

For those of you who live under a rock, the challenge is to bring awareness about ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease or Charcot Disease).

It’s a terrifying degenerative disease that affects muscles. From what I understand your muscles slowly atrophy. It’s paralysing, painful, and those affected have a short life expectancy.

The challenge says that if you can, you should donate $10 to the cause if you’ve dumped a bucket of ice water on your head and $100 if you didn’t.

My video and my wife’s video.

Charity Drain

Last estimates see the challenge having raised over 80 million dollars.

Some people are saying that the success of the campaign has been stopping people from donating to other causes. I don’t want to be the reason that other causes suffer, so I’m encouraging those that can afford to donate to multiple charities at the same time.

I donated to the Canadian Diabetes Association in memory of my Mother who died of complications related to diabetes in 2008. I also donated to the Canadian Cancer Society in memory of my Father who died of brain cancer in 2010.

I encourage those that can afford to donate to:

Even a little bit helps.


Would you join The Quest?

Have you or someone you love been affected by ALS?


Thank you,