Men need to be less reluctant to talk about health issues and more open to getting tested for cancer, Parkland Health Region surgeon Dr. Randy Friesen said at an informal gathering on Monday.
© Herald photo by Alex Di Pietro
Dr. Randy Friesen encouraged men to be more transparent and open when it comes to health-related issues as part of a forum to increase men‚Äôs cancer awareness on Monday at the Prince Albert Golf and Curling Club.
‚ÄúIf you catch colon cancer at an early stage, you have a 98 per cent cure rate. If you catch it at a late stage, you have a three per cent cure rate,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúSo, you want to be proactive. You want to be checking out the changes in your body functions.‚ÄĚ
While the cancer mortality rate is declining for Canadian males in most age groups, Saskatchewan has the highest prostate cancer mortality rate, according to Canadian Cancer Statistics 2012.
With it being Men‚Äôs Cancer Awareness Month, the Canadian Cancer Society organized a luncheon at the Prince Albert Golf and Curling Club and brought Friesen in as the guest speaker to raise awareness.
Friesen spoke to a table of seven men. He had initially planned to give a PowerPoint presentation but elected to sit down to create a more comfortable atmosphere with the small group.
He began by asking all of the attendees whether they‚Äôve been affected by cancer ‚ÄĒ either directly or indirectly ‚ÄĒ and most raised their hands.
Friesen then discussed being proactive, alluding to the symptoms of colorectal, prostate and lung cancer and encouraging regular checkups. He also shared his personal experience of coping with a diagnosis.
Friesen said he believes it is acceptable to an extent for men to be in denial and fearful when they or their loved ones are diagnosed with cancer.
‚ÄúMy wife was diagnosed last January with stage four breast cancer, and as you can just imagine, it threw me on my head,‚ÄĚ he said.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs part of me that has to deny it because when I‚Äôm at work, I have to think about my work. So, denial can be a good thing,‚ÄĚ he added. ‚ÄúBut there is also a facing of the facts.
‚ÄúWhile on one hand I have to deny it to a certain extent, I also have to admit that my wife has got stage four breast cancer (and) it is not curable at this stage.
‚ÄúDoes that mean we run in a hole and hide?‚ÄĚ he asked. ‚ÄúNo. You do what you can ‚Ä¶ You‚Äôve got to be afraid, but the fear that paralyzes you is not the fear that‚Äôs healthy. So, denial and fear ‚ÄĒ you maybe want a little bit of both, but not too much.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúMy wife was diagnosed last January with stage four breast cancer, and as you can just imagine, it threw me on my head.‚ÄĚ Dr. Randy Friesen, surgeon with the Parkland Health Region
Juxtaposing his wife‚Äôs attitude with his own, Friesen‚Äôs next pointed to the importance of staying positive.
‚ÄúShe‚Äôs just been a great example to me about how just being forward, up front and honest about everything is fantastically helpful,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúGiven that just about everybody in this room has had some close touch with cancer, you know what I‚Äôm talking about.‚ÄĚ
One of the things that cancer teaches, according to Friesen, is that being healthy does not necessarily mean one is powerful or in control. Instead, he said, health means having a positive outlook on life.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm amazed at patients who come to see me and say, ‚ÄėDoc, I‚Äôm a vegetarian. I do triathlons. How can I possibly have cancer?‚Äô‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúA positive attitude constitutes health and I think brings health.‚ÄĚ
For Friesen, a second word that denotes health is prosperity.
‚ÄúAnd I don‚Äôt mean being a millionaire,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúBy being prosperous, I guess what I really mean is an optimistic attitude.‚ÄĚ
Toward the end of his speech, Friesen touched on a few things that can increase life expectancy, including selecting the right lifestyle choices, maintaining a happy family life and staying physically active.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt mean you have to go to the gym three times a week,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúBeing active can be something as simple as having a garden that you tend regularly ‚Ä¶ It doesn‚Äôt have to be strenuous.‚ÄĚ
Friesen concluded by saying that he believes men see their health as an extremely personal matter and that it should be treated as a community matter.
‚ÄúThe truth is our health affects everybody around us,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúHealth is a community affair ‚Ä¶ When people find out there is cancer in your house, it‚Äôs amazing how many people actually care.
‚ÄúLet‚Äôs show the way by being unafraid.‚ÄĚ