April 2020 Volume 16

A Health Perspective

Hugh Reid
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Are you in good health? Are you sure? Are you really sure?

Women generally outlive men and one often quoted reason for this is that as men, we do not take care of our health and even boast that we do not go to a doctor. I am not a health professional but possibly because of my finance background I have, since my twenties, focused on keeping healthy.

The following personal experience which occurred in my fifties, underscores the importance of focusing on your health and knowing your own body.

In 2012, I noticed a small area in my groin that looked different from the surrounding area, but it was painless and was not growing in size. I ignored it for a number of months but the sight of it kept bothering me, so I went to my family doctor for a consultation. My doctor examined it and opined that it was harmless.

Notwithstanding that opinion, the sight of it kept on bothering me so I eventually went back to my family doctor and asked that it be removed. I was referred to a general surgeon who concurred that it was harmless but agreed to remove it. The surgery went well, and I went overseas on vacation shortly thereafter.

Surprise, surprise, on my return to Jamaica after my vacation, I got a call from my general surgeon and on visiting him, I was told that a biopsy, based on what was removed, revealed that the 2cm spot was cancerous. The end result was I had to do another surgery to ensure the full removal of the cancerous area and I was also referred and did a 20-session radiotherapy course.

Today, thankfully, there has been no recurrence of the cancer. What are the lessons here – take charge of your health, know and monitor your body, check your skin for unusual spots or moles and do not ignore changes in your body, however slight! On a broader scale, it is also important, inter alia, to do the following:

1. Do an annual physical, as sometimes changes in your health can only be detected by a trained health professional doing simple tests e.g. blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar etc. or additional tests based on your personal health profile.

2. Once you are 50 or over ask your doctor for a colon cancer screen.

3. Prostate cancer is a big risk for black men, and it is important to do an annual PSA and DRE. If you don’t know these terms, now is the time to do your homework and get tested!

4. Watch your weight and try and maintain a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or lower. Being overweight puts you at high risk for developing a number of diseases and weight loss can improve your odds.

5. Don’t forget your annual eye exam as this can help to detect vision problems or eye diseases like glaucoma before it is too late to save your sight. Twice a year dental checks are also important to maintain good oral hygiene and detect gum disease.

Take charge of your health, we will all die but don’t be in a rush to get there!

Hugh Reid

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