Protecting your health

In May 2023, Health and Safety2 MinutesBy Tracey MurphyJune 12, 2023

Previously, I discussed that the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 is about more than keeping workers safe – we must also protect their health. This includes such things as managing noise, dust and work pressures. Today, I would like to go outside of this and remind us that we are all given opportunities to protect our health – requiring more self-responsibility. What do I mean?

Several years ago, my mother died from bowel cancer. She was 65, far too young to die from something that could easily have been prevented. I recently underwent a routine screening colonoscopy. I have a colonoscopy every five years because of my family history. They are generally clear – this time, they removed a polyp. It is probably benign, but it could easily have been the start of a cancerous growth.

I know several people who have regular mole checks because they have had cancerous growths removed.

Women are offered the chance to have medical screenings – cervical smears and mammograms, routinely. Not all women take these up. Men are also encouraged to have a routine prostate examination. I wonder how many men do this unless perhaps they have symptoms.

The national bowel screening programme is rolling out to people 60 and over. I know that some people will not bother. I’d much prefer the “poo on a stick” test to a colonoscopy, but I can’t do this because of my mum.

New Zealand has a high incidence of deaths from cancer. So many of these could have been prevented had the diagnosis come earlier.

Please, please, please do the test. Suffer the lesser indignity of the test rather than the greatest loss of your life. Encourage your family and friends to do the same. Think about those you might leave behind – I can tell you that life is never the same.