This summer my father died from metastatic prostate cancer, in which his initial prostate cancer had spread to other parts of his body. He was 87 and had had a great life. But it could have been longer.
Last year, one of my best friends was pronounced free of prostate cancer. He had asked for a routine test which came back positive. Because they had caught it early, there were far more options open to him, and he had a choice of treatments. I am delighted to say that he has not only survived but flourished.
This is all about time. The results of the Fit2Farm survey demonstrated that agriculture and food production, in all its incarnations, is a busy profession; there are always other things you could be doing on a farm, in the glasshouse, in the laboratory, in the office. The survey suggested that one in four (27%) farmers and growers have had no medical check-up in the past year, and that of those who have, they were more likely to visit the dentist (81%) than the doctor (50%).
It is November, Movember for those of us who recognise the need for a serious conversation about men’s health, whether you are working in agriculture or food production, or not. It is very easy “not to have the time” to ask for a blood test to check for elevated PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen, a substance produced by the prostate gland) levels, or get to know “what’s normal” for your testicles. But maybe you should…
As a result of everything else going on, when I was asked to do a fasting blood test to check my cholesterol, I asked the doctor if I could also have a PSA check. After a twenty second discussion, he agreed. A week later, I was back at the doctors to be informed that my PSA levels were elevated, and that I was being referred to a consultant. Following a large number of tests over the next two weeks, they reached a conclusion that whilst I have elevated PSA levels, I do not have prostate cancer. But that I should keep an eye on things and have a new test once in a while. I will.
To my way of thinking the Movember message is clear: if there is a problem, finding it early and doing something about it means that you will “have the time” for so many other things you may want to do. I intend to take heed of the advice. Will you?