Raising awareness about prostate cancer
Around this time every year, caring people throughout Newfoundland and Labrador begin gearing up for the annual Walk A Mile In His Shoes for prostate cancer.
By Prostate Cancer Awareness Week in September, in numerous cities and towns around the province, they will gather at their favourite walking trails, ready to walk not only for their own health but also for the good of others. Apart from the obvious enjoyment and health benefits for the walkers themselves, this annual event is held mainly to raise awareness of the importance for men to get a regular check-up for prostate cancer, and also to help raise the necessary funds to carry out ongoing awareness presentations and projects throughout the province.
Prostate cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in Canadian men. One in every six men will develop prostate cancer in his lifetime.
To see what the “one-in-six” number means to you, count on your fingers the men who are important in your life. After you have numbered them on the fingers of one hand, count just one more. That sixth man you count could very well be the “one-in-six” who will develop this devastating disease, if he has not already.
In this province in 2010, 510 men were diagnosed and, of that number, approximately 85 died of the disease.
However, prostate cancer is not just a man’s disease. When a man is diagnosed, his whole family is negatively affected. The prostate cancer patient is a husband, a father, a brother, a son, and everyone who cares about him also suffers from the effects of the disease.
Unfortunately, too many men are notoriously reluctant to see to their own health issues, particularly concerning areas “ below the belt.” This is why we say, “If you are not getting the regular check-up for yourself, at least do it for the people you love.”
In fact, in many cases it is his partner who insists that he go to his doctor to get checked, and for this reason wives and partners are encouraged to attend local support group meetings.
The ‘check-up’ referred to is a simple blood test, which detects the presence of Prostate-Specific Antigen ( PSA) in the blood. The PSA test will detect prostate cancer long before the person feels any symptoms at all.
When detected in its early stages, prostate cancer is about 90 per cent curable. Do not wait until you are experiencing problems.
If you put off getting tested, your treatment options are much more limited. There are still treatments available for more advanced cases, but they are harder on all concerned. In the long run, the sensible thing to do is to make the simple PSA blood test a part of your routine check-up.
The annual Walk A Mile In His Shoes awareness raiser has been growing in popularity for over 10 years, and more communities are getting on board all the time. Even though over 30 locations have signed on for this year’s walk, many more are needed.
Any community groups, service clubs, employee groups — or even interested individuals — are encouraged to contact me at Daffodil Place (1-888-753-6520) to arrange a Walk A Mile In His Shoes event. Go to www.prostatecancersupport.ca to find out more, and to find a support group in your area.
It is important to note that every dollar raised in Newfoundland and Labrador through the Walk A Mile In His Shoes project stays right here in the province to assist our nine regional support groups in their many awareness activities. Now is the time to begin planning for your own Walk A Mile In His Shoes!