June 20, 2017

Last month, as I leisurely scanned Facebook, I was shocked to learn that one of my fraternity brothers had lost the battle against testicular cancer. I had just seen him less than a year ago; he looked healthy. He was thriving at work for CPS. What happened? I asked around for answers—apparently, he had lost a fight he didn’t know he was fighting.

I was floored and angry. Of course, when it’s our time, it’s our time. I know that very well, but I couldn’t help but be upset because his death could have been prevented. However, preventive care isn’t as valued as it should be. What’s worse is, some people avoid going to the doctor even when they know they probably should. I can’t speak to Dustin’s health habits nor do I seek to judge because I can’t. See, I only recently went to the doctor for the first time in almost 10 years. Thankfully, I’m healthy and–reminded of my mortality–I hope to keep it that way. For this reason, I publicly commit to getting an annual check-up. You should, too.

June is Men’s Health Month. Pretty self-explanatory, but the month serves as motivation for men to be proactive in staying healthy and seeking health care. The Men’s Health Network (MHN) reports that a new study (Chattem 2016) shows that 90% of men in the U.S. want to take charge of their own health. Also, the study notes that sexual health is an important priority for men. I sure hope people in Hidalgo County feel similarly.

To contribute to the local conversation, I did a quick Q&A with one of our very own Healthcare Assistants, Joe. He’s been working for Access Esperanza Clinics for almost two years and gave me a bit of his time.

DG: Joe, sum yourself up in one sentence.

JL: I’m a hard worker, independent, and committed to helping the community access preventive health care.

DG: Wow, you got that in one go. Why do you work at AEC?

JL: Why do you work here? I ask because I think our answers are the same. I like what I do, easy as that. I like helping patients and like everyone that works here. I think we all believe in the mission. I think we all do a good job of helping most people feel healthy and secure. Some things are out of our control, but I show up every day ready to teach someone about the importance of preventive care.”

DG: I agree, and thanks for helping our community. You know, it’s Men’s Health Month. Can you tell me why is men’s health important?

JL: It’s important every month! Seriously, just as it’s important for women to have a reproductive life plan, men need a reproductive life plan that includes at least annual check-ups, cholesterol and glucose screenings. Access makes it possible. We call it a reproductive life plan, but it’s a life plan. Education is first, in my eyes, and being unhealthy or having an unplanned pregnancy can limit your opportunity to get your education, meet your goals, and live the life you were determined to live. Testing and prevention is key for life planning.

DG: Has men’s health always been important to you?

JL: I think men’s health became important to me when I started working at Access. Of course, I cared for my health and the people around me, but once I started working here I realized how important prevention is. You really can prevent certain illnesses and diseases by becoming educated on safer habits. At Access, I received great training that helps me educate people and give them the feedback they need to start their road to safer, healthier habits.

DG: How often do you think men should get physical exams, including testicular exams?

JL: Annually, at the very least. I wouldn’t wait more than that.

DG: Can you set the record straight: when is a good time to start getting prostate exams?

JL: It varies, but as soon as you’re old enough to realize it’s a thing to worry about then you should talk to your health care provider. I would say 38 is a good age, but your health care provider can give you recommendations based on your situation.

DG: Lastly, will you commit to getting an annual check-up?

JL: Absolutely, I’ll try for every 6 months!