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THE AL GILKES COLUMN: Guys, get checked out now


Al Gilkes

THE AL GILKES COLUMN: Guys, get checked out now

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Why are few Barbadian men heeding the constant call from the medical fraternity to get their prostates checked in order to enjoy the benefit of the life-saving possibility of early detection and treatment of prostate cancer?

This, against the background of Barbados having the second highest incidence of prostate cancer in the world per capita, and one of the highest mortality rates as well in the world, with more than 100 men dying every year.

My question, like the persistent appeals from the medical fraternity and cancer-related organisations, will more than likely fall on deliberately deaf ears. Nevertheless, today I am add my voice to those others in an attempt to encourage all of you men, especially the over-40s, to have your prostate checked in order to avoid being a victim of “too late shall be the cry”.

However, I must confess that prior to two years ago no doctor, male or female, could get me to easily submit myself to a prostate examination.

You can tell me I am talking bull, but few, if any undiluted, unadulterated straight men willingly consent without a serious degree of trepidation, anxiety and fear, which has little or nothing to do with the possibility of a negative result in terms of positive detection of cancer.

The real reason why real-real men have always resisted having a prostate exam until, in too many cases, it’s too late, has to do with the doctor’s finger.

No man, unless he is that way inclined, and you know what I mean, willingly welcomes any other man, even his own personal doctor, inserting his finger into his botsy to feel to see if anything may be wrong with that prostate.

I have had to undergo the experience a few times and let me tell you, as we say, it en nuh sweet bread. It’s more like an original Gwen Workman lead pipe that men used to pelt at each other when rock-stone was not at hand.

It’s not easy having to buckle like a flying fish in a frying pan on the examination table, facing the wall unable to see what he is about to do until, oh loss, the finger. And as every muscle in that part of the body instinctively constricts in resistance to the unnatural intrusion, the doctor coaxes you to relax. But how can any real man relax with a finger up his you know where?

I and every Barbadian man should, therefore, be very relieved and happy to hear that the fingering thing is almost a thing of the past, having been replaced by the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test, which calls for a small sample of blood to be taken and for laboratory analysis.

You would have heard that the Barbados Cancer Society recently presented a $53 000 ultrasound machine to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to be used for ultrasound biopsy, which is said to be the only test to determine whether a lump is in the prostate. The society also has its “Movember” campaign going this month to help raise funds for this cause.

So before you start to experience the telltale symptoms like being unable to urinate, having an extra weak flow or difficulty in starting or stopping the flow, having to go “every minute”, especially at night, seeing blood in the urine and continuous back, pelvis, or upper thigh pain, have yourselves checked NOW.

• Al Gilkes is head of a public relations firm. Email [email protected]

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