The Jamaica Cancer Society on Friday had free prostate cancer screening for the first 100 men who showed up at its annual initiative to raise awareness and increase prostate cancer screening, especially among men who fear the process of getting that body part checked.
The Jamaica Observer asked some of the men who made use of the offer what their experience was like.
One man, aged 56, shared that he had never done the test before because of what he now refers to as myths.
“I was on the road and I overheard someone saying that there is a test going on up by Jamaica Cancer Society, so I decide to say let me stop by and do the test. I haven’t done this before, so I said let me try, even though I was shunning away”, said the first-timer who didn’t wish to reveal his name.
“I’ve done it and everything ok, but I believed the myth that I was hearing. A whole lot of things that you hear about when you go to do the test — I thought it was much more rugged”, he continued.
Michael Laughton, 77, said he brought his son to get tested.
“I came here chu mi son. I bring him, ’cause if mi neva force him, him wouldn’t reach here today,” he laughed.
Laughton, who is a member of the Jamaica Cancer Society, said he never feared the process and made sure to get his prostate checked annually.
“I didn’t have no fear, but the average man don’t like the men dem to check them. They prefer di woman dem to check dem. It’s stupid, because it is a benefit for them,” Laughton said.
His son, Michael Laughton Jr, also negated the belief that so many men have about the test.
“I would say to men, get checked! It’s nothing to feel anyway about or embarrassed about. If it has to be done, it just has to be done. And if you can detect it early, there is ways to solve it and treat it.”
Another regular like Laughton Sr, Ainsworth Searchwell, aged 50, said the options are simple, regardless of the test itself: life or an early death.
“This is about my fifth time now; I try to do this every year. My opinion is either you do it now and live longer, or you don’t do it and then for the balance of your life you live in fear or pain — if and when you do get prostate cancer — which takes up everything for you and your family.”
Fund-raising and public relations officer of the Jamaica Cancer Society, Shullian Brown explained that other than fear, another barrier that prevents men from doing the screening is the cost.
“A lot of our men, too, when they come for screening they are on the lower socio-economic scale and they can’t afford it, so we don’t turn them away from screening — that’s why we fund-raise”.
She also encouraged men not to wait for the annual free screenings, which otherwise cost $3,000.
“I just want persons to remember that the Cancer Society is here right throughout the year conducting prostate cancer screening, so they don’t have to wait on these particular days of awareness. We’re right throughout from January to December. I’m quite pleased that a lot of the men were able to stay and get screened and realise that the myths that they were hearing, the reality is quite different.”
Junior Blackwood, 63, said the test is nothing to be afraid of.
“It was good, nothing to be scared of; it’s very important for men to do the test. This is not my first time doing the it. I’m not a regular, but I did one quite a few years ago”, Blackwood said.
Another first-timer, Elkana Hayden said he was one of those who never took prostate cancer seriously.
“Well, I always ignore it but the reality chip in. General man ting — we feel say nutten nuh wrong and afraid of certain things, like the process. But when they explain it and talk to you about it, I find that it’s not as bad as I thought. So, it’s good that we check on ourselves. Early detection can mean longer life, and late detection can mean earlier to the grave. I encourage every man to take that step and have it done.”
Jamaica has one of the highest prostate cancer mortality rates in the Caribbean, with 72.7 per 100,000 men having the disease. Prostate cancer has also been also the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Jamaica for the past 15 years.
Risk factors for prostate cancer include race — as Afro-Caribbean men are at a higher risk of developing the illness, family history, high — fat diet, obesity and smoking. Possible symptoms of prostate cancer include weak or interrupted flow of urine, frequent urination, especially at night, trouble urinating, pain or burning during urination, blood in the urine or semen, and painful ejaculation.