HealthWise Success: Screenings can save your life
Cancer is one of those words no one ever wants to hear from a doctor. This is the story of a Crown employee who learned that a diagnosis of cancer can really happen to anyone, including himself. Here is his story in his own words.
I was aware that the recommendation to begin prostate cancer screening is around the age of 50. I was a few years late in getting my test, but finally got the nerve to have that discussion with family doctor. I completed my initial PSA blood test and exam for prostate cancer in January 2007. Fortunately, the blood test and exam came back fine and the doctor recommended getting checked every couple of years. Seemed easy enough – at least the next time I would know what to expect. Two years passed and I faithfully scheduled and completed my exam. Again, all was good.
Third time is a charm, or so they say. My third time, or third test, was definitely not a charm. My blood test came back slightly above the recommended range. I was a little concerned and started talking to my brothers. Surprisingly, I found out that they have had issues with their prostate. I shared this with my doctor and he suggested I see a specialist because of my results coupled with my family history.
At first, the specialist did not seem too concerned with the PSA number. However, when I told him about my family history he gave me two options: get rechecked in 6 months or have a biopsy done. I chose the biopsy, mostly to gain piece of mind. I had the biopsy in October 2011 and it came back cancerous. There it was, those words I never wanted to hear from a doctor…”it is cancer”. I had no idea how important family history was in medical decisions until now.
I quickly scheduled an appointment with the surgeon and had my surgery December 2011. There is a lot to be said about the phrase “early detection is your best prevention”. If I had made the decision not to go for regular screenings since my first test was normal, finding my prostate cancer in its early stage may not have happened. Most likely my cancer would have been caught in a later stage when treatment and outcomes may not have been as successful.
- Get screened. Follow the age appropriate guidelines for cancer detection. I know it can be scary, but its better to know early if something is not right then to find out when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
- Know your family history. Ask questions. Share that information with your doctor and then ask what screenings or tests are recommended for you and when should you start.
- Follow your doctor’s recommendations – because you never know. One year you could be fine. The next year cancer is detected.
- My hope is to give one person the strength to call the doctor and talk about cancer prevention screenings. It doesn’t matter if it is for prostate cancer, colon cancer, or breast cancer. Early detection can save lives!
Note: If you are enrolled in a Crown health plan, preventative office visits are covered at 100% in-network with no copay. Wellness screenings such as a colonoscopy, mammogram, pap test, PSA test, lipid profile and glucose test are also covered at 100% with no copay. See the Summary Plan Description (SPD) for plan details and limits
If you would like to share your story, please contact us using our online form.