Blokes encouraged to stay on top of health during COVID-19 pandemic
Published at: 07 Aug 2020
DESPITE THE BIGGEST EVER BLOKES LUNCH NOT GOING AHEAD IN SHEPPARTON THIS YEAR, GV HEALTH’S PROSTATE AND BOWEL CANCER NURSES ARE ENCOURAGING MEN TO REMAIN VIGILANT WHEN IT COMES TO THEIR HEALTH.
Goulburn Valley Health specialist nurses are encouraging men to stay on top of their health this year, despite the COVID-19 outbreak.
The nurses usually appear at Shepparton’s Biggest Ever Blokes Lunch where they aim to encourage men to have a check-up, however this year’s event has been cancelled due to COVID-19.
But GV Health Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse Sonia Strachan, GV Health Bowel Cancer Support Nurse Katie Emanuelli, and GV Health Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse Nicole Lewis are still encouraging local men to maintain regular visits with their GPs and to get tested if they are not feeling right.
“There has been a reduction in people visiting their GP during COVID-19,” Ms Strachan said.
“The numbers are down when it comes to diagnosis as a result.”
Biggest Ever Blokes Lunch Shepparton committee chair Shane O’Sullivan said while it was a shame the lunch could not go ahead this year it did not mean men should stop thinking about their health.
He encouraged them to pick up the phone and have a chat with their mates if they needed to as well as reiterating it was imperative to continue regular visits with their GP.
“We want to get the awareness out there,” he said.
“That’s what the Biggest Ever Blokes Lunch was all about.
“When it first started, it was just Chris (McPherson) and a bunch of mates getting together.”
Mr O’Sullivan said the event would be back again next year, in late August, where funds are usually raised by the Shepparton community to fund the vital roles of Ms Strachan, Ms Lewis and Ms Emanuelli.
“We are so lucky that the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia has continued to support us with the roles because of sponsors and the generous community,” he said.
The importance of getting tested
Bernie Squires cannot really remember why he was getting blood work done with his GP when he was about 65 years old.
“I had had one or two health issues,” he said.
It was the fact his GP at the time suggested he take a PSA test, which measures for prostatespecific antigen in the blood, that ultimately led to Mr Squire’s diagnosis.
“It came back positive,” he said.
Mr Squires said a PSA reading of about 8 meant something needed to be done immediately.
Mr Squires returned a reading of 6.5 and then had a biopsy which returned a low reading.
“In 12 months’ time, we did the same thing again, and I had another round of biopsies which were a little bit higher,” he said.
Mr Squires also had a CT scan, but it wasn’t until a year later when he had another PSA test which returned a high enough result that he was scheduled for surgery in Melbourne.
“About 24 hours beforehand, I had a phone call saying they weren’t going to operate but they still wanted me to go to Melbourne to do another biopsy,” he said.
This time, the diagnosis was definite, and Mr Squires was scheduled for surgery again.
“I had my surgery in Melbourne in 2016,” he said.
It’s difficult for Mr Squires to recall exactly what prompted the first PSA test.
“The good thing with me was, looking back on it, the GP suggested doing a PSA; she was switched on enough to do that,” he said.
“I wasn’t having any troubles at all …none at all.”
While Mr Squires admits he wasn’t always the type of person to regularly visit his GP, he encouraged other men to stay on top of their health.
“Get your GP to do a PSA test,” he said.
“It’s not an issue to do it … I recommend for any man to do it.”
Mr Squires said he felt strongly about being proactive about health and taking action before things advanced too far.
“The ramifications if you don’t are horrendous,” he said.
“I’ve watched people die because it’s moved to another organ and just gets very nasty.”
Throughout his entire journey, Mr Squires said he was curious to learn all the information before deciding which course of action was best for him.
He said the team at the Peter Copulos Cancer & Wellness Centre, particularly GV Health Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse Sonia Strachan, had been invaluable in assisting with his care.
“Sonia explained to me the differences, what the advantages and disadvantages were (of various treatments),” he said.
“She gave me booklets and information about different procedures.
“I could contact her anytime and go and see her.”
After volunteering at GV Health in recent years since his retirement, Mr Squires encouraged all men to stay on top of their health.
“The important part to me is having a good quality of life; I saw too many people who did nothing about it,” he said.