Drop the 'tough guy' attitude, says top docHealth officials encourage men to get screened and tested for cancer for Men's Cancer Awareness Month
Northern News Services
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Men in the territory need to drop their 'tough guy' attitude, start seeing a doctor regularly and get screened and tested for cancer.
Dr. Andre Corriveau: "NWT residents who are 50 years of age or older should consult their health care provider about cancer if they have unusual signs, symptoms or a family history of cancer." - Karen K. Ho/NNSL photo
That was the message delivered by Inuvik resident and men's health advocate Jeff Amos at a news conference on Sept. 14 marking Men's Cancer Awareness Month. Amos appeared by video link from Inuvik at the news conference which was also attended by Dr. Andre Corriveau, the chief public health officer for the NWT. Both men said that males in the NWT seem to carry an attitude of invincibility when it comes to their health and they need to get over it.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death among males in the NWT after stroke and heart disease. Lung, colo-rectal and prostate cancers are the most common causes of cancer deaths among NWT males, according to the Department of Health and Social Services.
"Choosing to live a healthy lifestyle and taking an active role in preventative health care, such as cancer screening, helps to improve well-being and reduce the risk of cancer," Corriveau said. "NWT residents who are 50 years of age or older should consult their health care provider about cancer if they have unusual signs, symptoms or a family history of cancer."
Amos said that it is never too late to start making healthy life choices, something he finally started to do on Mother's Day in 1989. He said he hasn't had an alcoholic beverage in the 26 years since.
"I woke up after a night of drinking and felt like I could use another drink but my wife said to me, 'You only have $26 in the bank.' That's when I knew something had to change."
Amos, 62, is a married father with "13 grandkids and counting."
He is currently a mental health support worker in Inuvik. Amos said he grew up in Aklavik where several family members have been afflicted with cancer including his grandmother, sister and aunt.
"I am not a cancer survivor myself but it has been around me my whole life so I am a survivor in that regard," he said. "My grandfather taught me that it is important to help my people to heal. Over the years of my addiction and alcoholism I didn't know what he meant until that Mother's Day when I was woken up and had a rude awakening and realized what my grandfather meant by helping my people to heal."
Corriveau said that the link between smoking and cancer is more direct that it is with alcohol and cancer but added too much alcohol consumption can also lead to cancer.
"People tend not to eat well, or eat at all when they are drinking and they are less active. Both of those can be factors in getting cancer," Corriveau said.