If you are a wife, girlfriend, mother, sister, daughter, friend or loved one of a man who refuses to see a doctor, these are some of the excuses you may have heard from him for avoiding a medical check-up.
Unfortunately, studies have shown that men die at higher rates than women for all the leading causes of death and that men “live sicker and die younger than women”. So the time has come for men to make the time, cough up the money and “man up” to the reality they need to be more proactive about their health.
Anthony Walton, a 53-year-old carpenter in Cayman Brac and local prostate cancer survivor, learned this lesson the hard way.
About four years ago, Mr. Walton went to the hospital simply to obtain a refill for his medication. His doctor, however, told him before he could do so, Mr. Walton would first need to do some tests and referred him to a urologist.
The results of his PSA blood test (17) and the digital rectal exam (a lump) both pointed to the fact cancer might be present in his prostate. A biopsy was performed, confirming suspicions of cancer. A year after his diagnosis, Mr. Walton began treatment, choosing to have radiation treatment in Jamaica instead of the United States.
Mr. Walton said that, although he was worried after receiving this diagnosis, he was not scared because the doctor reassured him the cancer was small and growing slowly. He spoke of his diagnosis to his wife, father and brothers and felt much support. In the end, however, he put his faith in the doctor’s hands.
When asked about his family history, Mr. Walton said at least two people in his family, one on his mother’s side and one on his father’s, had prostate cancer. Given his risk factors, it was surprising to find out Mr. Walton waited until he was nearly 50 years old to screen for prostate cancer, and only did so as a condition of having his medication refilled.
Due to the fact he had never seen many doctors and wasn’t having regular check-ups, Mr. Walton had never heard about the PSA blood test. He had, however, heard and read about prostate cancer in newspapers and on radio and television, but never took it seriously.
Today, his attitude has changed – he now sees the doctor on a regular basis and does a PSA blood test every four months. He also has a message for the men of our islands.
“I would say they should get a physical once a year or so,” he said. “They also need to know that the statistic shows that about one man in six will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.”
Mr. Walton was fortunate because his cancer was found early and his radiation treatment, which lasted approximately three-and-a-half months, did not result in severe side effects. At the moment, his PSA level is down to 2 and the doctor assures him everything looks okay.
Although Mr. Walton’s success story is inspiring, not all men are so fortunate. The Cayman Islands Cancer Society observes November as male cancers awareness month.
For more information on male cancers, the Society or its programmes, call 949-7618 or email [email protected]
Studies have shown that men die at higher rates than women for all the leading causes of death.