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 menâs cancer awareness on Monday at the Prince Albert Golf and Curling Club.
âIf 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,â he said. âSo, you want to be proactive. You want to be checking out the changes in your body functions.â
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 Menâs 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 theyâve been affected by cancer â either directly or indirectly â 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.
âMy wife was diagnosed last January with stage four breast cancer, and as you can just imagine, it threw me on my head,â he said.
âThereâs part of me that has to deny it because when Iâm at work, I have to think about my work. So, denial can be a good thing,â he added. âBut there is also a facing of the facts.
âWhile 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.
âDoes that mean we run in a hole and hide?â he asked. âNo. You do what you can âŠ Youâve got to be afraid, but the fear that paralyzes you is not the fear thatâs healthy. So, denial and fear â you maybe want a little bit of both, but not too much.â
âMy wife was diagnosed last January with stage four breast cancer, and as you can just imagine, it threw me on my head.â Dr. Randy Friesen, surgeon with the Parkland Health Region
Juxtaposing his wifeâs attitude with his own, Friesenâs next pointed to the importance of staying positive.
âSheâs just been a great example to me about how just being forward, up front and honest about everything is fantastically helpful,â he said. âGiven that just about everybody in this room has had some close touch with cancer, you know what Iâm talking about.â
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.
âIâm amazed at patients who come to see me and say, âDoc, Iâm a vegetarian. I do triathlons. How can I possibly have cancer?ââ he said. âA positive attitude constitutes health and I think brings health.â
For Friesen, a second word that denotes health is prosperity.
âAnd I donât mean being a millionaire,â he said. âBy being prosperous, I guess what I really mean is an optimistic attitude.â
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.
âI donât mean you have to go to the gym three times a week,â he said. âBeing active can be something as simple as having a garden that you tend regularly âŠ It doesnât have to be strenuous.â
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.
âThe truth is our health affects everybody around us,â he said. âHealth is a community affair âŠ When people find out there is cancer in your house, itâs amazing how many people actually care.
âLetâs show the way by being unafraid.â