The ‘C-word’


Very occasionally my employer will organise a talk on a topic that is not work related, but of interest to the staff. Examples include talks for the female employees about how to network, to advance careers in an industry that is largely male dominated, at the more senior level (which I didn’t attend seeing as I am of the male sex). Or about how to create a work life balance (which I didn’t attend as it coincided with the introduction of the working from home policy – on that day I was staring at the canal from my living room window.) I was present for today’s talk, and happy to attend. The title was ‘Let’s talk about cancer’, and featured as its guest speaker, an oncology nurse from a Dublin hospital.

She gave a presentation about some of the most common cancers – the symptoms, the treatment and how to avoid them.

Five specific cancers were discussed.

Firstly was melanoma. If you have a freckle or mole that changes shape or consistency then get it checked. Stay out of the sun unless you are wearing sun protection – particularly between midday and 3pm, but be aware that sunshine is also good for you, so no need to avoid it entirely in Ireland.

Next was lung cancer. Don’t smoke. If you do smoke then stop smoking. If you are losing weight and have a persistent cough then get it checked out.

Next was breast cancer. If you are female get your scheduled mammograms and do a self-test for lumps on a regular basis.

After was prostate cancer. If you are a male and you have difficulty starting or stopping peeing then go for the doctor performed digital exam.

Last was colorectal cancer. If you are losing weight or have persistent stomach pain get it checked out – and go for a bi-annual screening if you are over the age of sixty.

To reduce your chance of getting all cancers then don’t smoke; drink alcohol in moderation; eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables; limit your consumption of processed food and red meat; maintain a healthy weight; get some exercise.

All common sense stuff really but good to hear it again. Especially considering that there are 40,000 new diagnoses of all types of cancer combined in Ireland each year; 9,000 deaths from cancer each year, and a statistic that 1 out of every 4 people will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime.

My only criticism of the event – and this a reflection of my own personal lunacy rather than the nurse who does an utterly heroic job – was that I couldn’t hear her properly. She was soft spoken, her voice barely more than a whisper. In a room of forty people I strained her hear her. I wanted to shout ‘Project’ but that would have revealed my psycho nature to the world. I’m a right picky patsy sometimes.

A very worthwhile hour all told.

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