Reader’s mail ….
from Tina King for TULIPS ….
Too many friends have been diagnosed with cancer over the past year, and I’m sure you will know someone personally or know of someone fighting with this disease, or sadly who has lost their fight. As with my friend, early diagnosis has meant a better outcome for both treatment options and prognosis of future health, but it does make me ask why we, all of us, are not paying more attention to our bodies!
Research has shown that cancer mostly affects older adults resulting in between 62% in men to 76% women of cancer deaths being attributed to the over 65’s. That’s quite a figure if you consider the average age of all foreigners here in the TRNC. The most common cancers in both men and women are Lung Cancer and Colorectal Cancer, with Prostate in men and Breast Cancer in women. In 2020 this accounts for 43% of cancers diagnosed in men and 50% of cancers diagnosed for women.
We are all guilty of ignoring little niggles, maybe too embarrassed to go to our GP, or just think it will go away….However, when you live in the TRNC what do you do? We have to take ownership and prioritize the continued screening of ourselves. We no longer have the luxury of the NHS sending out reminders or booking appointments. The importance of early diagnosis in most cancers is that many deaths can be prevented with a greater good prognosis. Did you know there are over 200 cancers which have differing symptoms, but some of the most common cancers, listed, below can be detected early? These are Prostate, Breast and Colorectal. Importantly you really should be screened if you have family history, or are experiencing symptoms.
In the UK we have a colorectal screening program that is usually sent to your UK home address, this is called “Faecal Immunochemical test”. It basically checks for blood in your stools. If blood is found, you will require a colonoscopy to investigate further. There can be a number of reasons. For example, polyps, ulcers or haemorrhoids, not just cancer. Recommended screening from age 60 to 74 years is every 2 years and is available in most hospitals here but you have to ask for it. I would suggest you should speak with an Internal Medicine Doctor.
All women between the ages of 45 and 79 should have a mammogram every year. Women over the age of 55 can have one every two years as a minimum in the UK, but here in the TRNC you can have annual examinations up to the maximum age limit of 85. Please note! You must not have more than one mammogram in a year. In the event an abnormality is detected then you will need an x-ray and referral to breast specialist for further investigations. Again not all lumps and bumps are cancer, some can be cysts or fatty tissue. However, you may have to undergo an Ultrasound fine needle aspiration or biopsy to determine the case.
Prostate problems usually have the following early symptoms and as a precaution you should undergo an examination immediately if you are experiencing difficulty in urinating, blood in the urine, change in frequency, straining to empty bladder. Generally men over the age of 50 should consider a DRE (Digital Rectal Examination) and a PSA blood test annually. That said, if the PSA result is less than 2.5 ng/mL your Doctor may advise you that you need only to be retested every 2 years. If your PSA levels are increased and your prostate is enlarged there is a possibility that you will need an MRI +/- a biopsy, or more frequent follow ups..
This leads me on to what happens if you are diagnosed with possible cancer and have to undergo further tests and treatment, however radical that might be. Who can you turn to? In the case of my friend she approached TULIPS. Their help and guidance was invaluable. A member of Tulips will meet with you to discuss your circumstances. They will arrange your first appointments with the Oncology team in Lefkosa, to assist with translations and to organise your prescriptions and so very very much more. Literally, they take the anxiety away of “where do I go, and what do I do, who do I talk to?”.
We all know Tulips and periodically we all support fund raising as and when we can, however until you are placed in that situation you have no idea how incredible all the volunteers are. It makes me really sad and somewhat angry to learn that these voluntary Angels are experiencing a financially difficult time. (No) Thanks to Covid, fundraising has been a problem and, over the last 18 months, has had such an impact on resources it has affected the type of support they can now provide cancer patients. That is a BIG problem for all of us. There is that saying “There but for the Grace of God go I”. I’m eternally grateful to be currently fit and healthy, as most probably you are, as you read this. But! There is always a but! ….what would you do if you were diagnosed with cancer and Tulips had gone? Would you know what to do?
In recognition of Tulips amazing support in looking after his wife, my friend’s husband has organised a massive fundraising event. It will be held at the Manolya Hotel in Lapta, where the Cyprus Underwater Explorers Scuba Diving Club will be completing a 24 hour Dive-a-thon from 10am on the 2nd to the 3rd September from 10am to 10am. Live music from Ed Sezener! Loads of really great raffle prizes have been donated including meals for 2 at Seveners and Montenegro, haircut and blow dry from Tina Dibden, Full wellness woman and man check up from the Kolan British Hospital, electrical goods from Domart and Aydan and much much more. (If you are able to donate further raffle prizes please contact firstname.lastname@example.org)
I hope in some small way I have made you all aware to take more care of yourselves, live healthier and longer.
PLEASE GET YOUR SCREENING BOOKED
And PLEASE donate as much as you can, every little amount raised goes towards the cancer patient’s welfare. You never know when you might need help.