Rais­ing aware­ness about prostate cancer

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION -

Dear edi­tor,

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!

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