July 17th, 2024


By Linda Tooth on July 10, 2024.

Let’s address the elephant in the room.

A recent edition of the Medicine Hat News included an insert titled Healthy Living Summer 2024. Inside this 15-page insert was an article relating to issues that affect men’s health. Certain concerns raised included cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, diabetes, prostate and testicular cancer. We as a society have been talking a lot about men’s mental health but not their overall physical health, until now.

In December of 2023, my partner of 20 years decided it was time for a complete physical. He mentioned to his doctor that it had been a few years since his last physical and they decided it was time. He came home commenting on his prostate exam, I’ll spare you the comments made, but that had been completed and things were fine. He also had to complete the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) which checks for blood in your stool. I am not talking about the kind you sit on, but in fact your poop. Unfortunately, that came back with traces of blood, too small for the human eye to see, and he was then scheduled for a colonoscopy. In April I accompanied him to the hospital for this procedure. We met with the doctor after that procedure to be informed that some polyps had been removed but there were very large ones that this doctor was not comfortable with removing, so we were being referred to a doctor at the Peter Lougheed Hospital in Calgary for another colonoscopy. In case you are unaware, the Cancer Council defines a polyp as a projecting growth of tissue from a surface in the body, usually a mucous membrane. Polyps can form in the colon and the rectum. Late in June we were in Calgary to have this same procedure done and the doctor met with us after to discuss how he removed one large polyp but unfortunately the largest one had embedded itself into the wall and would have to be removed surgically. Back to the doctor here in Medicine Hat this past Friday and unfortunately the news we received was not brilliant. The large polyp that was removed in Calgary had been sent off for a biopsy and had come back as cancerous and because it did not look cancerous to either doctors they did not mark the area it had come from. How can they do surgery to remove parts of the intestine if they do not know what area it has come from? By the time this is printed we will be back at the hospital in Medicine Hat and he will have had a sigmoidoscopy. We hope the doctor will be able to determine the area of the cancerous polyp so that when surgery is done to remove the embedded one they can also remove the area of the cancerous one.

We are hopeful that this has been caught in the early stages. Everyone’s health is important and men will typically ignore theirs. I urge everyone to make an appointment with their doctor and have a physical examination done.

You may wonder why I am sharing our story. I hope that it may save someone from the unspeakable panic and fear we are facing.

Linda Tooth is positive culture co-ordinator at Sanare Centre

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