Men Over 50: Go to your Doctor

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This week, the Wall Street Journal ran a front-page story on Americans cutting back on visits to traditional doctors. In light of recent health care reform, the ongoing recession, and patients acting more as consumers, we have to ask: Is this a good thing?

Certainly, people should be getting annual physicals and continue with traditional preventative care. But how many men who just turned age 50 are scheduling a PSA test (for prostate cancer screening) or planning for the dreaded colonoscopy?

I know I am. A good friend, Patricia Carusone (who founded the Charles River School of Shiatsu in Arlington, Mass.) died two years ago of colon cancer. Patricia was a wonderful teacher and healer and truly committed to the holistic lifestyle. She would not even allow a microwave oven at her school. She practiced Qi Gong everyday and followed a strict whole foods diet.

Still, the mystery of cancer somehow crept into her life. It doesn’t make sense and it seems unfair. But cancer does not discriminate by age, wealth, or even lifestyle.

Men need to become more aware of health risk, especially after the age of 50. Sure, many of believe that we can just exercise more and cut down on a few beers. That’s not enough and those changes will not undo years of excesses or merely eating too much junk.

After Patricia died, her sister Kathy sent an email that clearly stated one of Patricia’s final wishes: encourage everyone to get a colon cancer screening when you turn 50 (if not before – if insurance will pay for it earlier, even better).

Good advice – from an inspirational health care practitioner and friend. We miss you Patricia.

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