With the sad passing of the inspirational Nelson Mandela and it having recently been Prostate Cancer Awareness month in November – we have the menfolk at heart. As noted from Mandela’s autobiography – Long Walk to Freedom – Mandela valued his health and fitness. As a former boxer he continued to treasure his health in prison and said “exercise was unusual for African men of my age and generation… I know that some of my younger comrades looked at me and said to themselves, ‘if that old man can do it, why can’t I?’ They too began to exercise.” With the rise of prostate cancer and other cancers amongst African men, an important lesson can be gained from Mandela’s awareness of his health for the men of our generation and future generations.
Real health is more than just the absence of disease.
But what does “healthy” even mean? That definition is different for a 90 year old man than it is for an Olympic marathoner, but even so, there are some basic things that I think we can agree on.
Oftentimes, our menfolk are under so much pressure to be a provider and seem cool and unruffled while doing it, that they let things go way too long before they surrender to seeing a doctor. Sometimes, if you wait until you are too sick to go to work to visit the doctor, your condition may be too advanced for the healing process and procedures recommended to be simple and fast. On occasion, the consequences for avoiding the doctor can be worse than a lengthy recovery – the price you pay may be a premature death.
Yes it is important to provide for your family, however, what good is that if you die younger than necessary, or work yourself down to debilitating illness. Your family needs you here – and not just here on the earth as a warm body, but here, fully present. By that I mean, in good spirits, with balanced outlook, emotionally available, with vitality, vigour and ready to participate in every aspect of your partner’s, parents’, children’s, friends’ and community’s lives. You let down more than just yourself by not taking care of health details that keep you motivated and in check.
Get the recommended age appropriate check-ups.
Click here to be directed to a great resource for figuring out how often you should be getting a once over from your doctor, according to your age. A routine check will vary depending on what country you are in, but should usually involve to the degree that it is possible some blood work, physical exams, health-related lifestyle counselling, possibly vaccination and other assessments.
I know of several male friends and relatives who were able to add decades to their lives because they got saved by a routine physical that stopped something awful in its tracks, or enabled them to manage the condition successfully.
So gentlemen I encourage you to take your well being seriously as we approach the new year and may the ladies in your life support you in adding routine doctor’s visits to your schedule. It really is not manly to cower from the doctor. Real men get check-ups!
*To visit the Elizabeth Chanakira Cancer Trust and find out about the work we do with marginalized cancer patients in Zimbabwe click here.