Thursday, August 11, 2022

Livestock needs the living

Prostate cancer survivor Doug Lineham says men need to take their health seriously and the Government needs to put the programmes in place to help them.
Doug Lineham is supporting a campaign to get a screening programme created for prostate cancer in New Zealand.

In Farmers Weekly, May 30, Katherine Dixon wrote: “A thriving hill country farming sector is critical to New Zealand’s economy and to our regional communities”.

“Hill country farms make up 70% of our pastoral area and farmers are making productive use of approximately 5.6 million hectares of land. “These farmers are producing the world’s most sustainable beef and lamb with an environmental footprint lower than many of our competitors.”

These few words provide a clear indication of the importance and value of pastoral farming in New Zealand, on that we are all agreed. I want you to hold that thought please.

In the NZ Herald of June 15, John Berry wrote: “Would you believe seven out of 10 men would rather clean the toilets than go to the doctor? Bizarre, but apparently true. 

“And when men do go to the doctor, they’re surprisingly likely to lie about their symptoms. 

“June was Men’s Health Month and a good time to reflect on the health of ourselves, our brothers, fathers, sons, uncles, mates, and work colleagues. 

“This is not just about men, it’s about everyone – healthy men mean healthy families and ultimately better communities.”

Interesting and important set of words, on which we can all agree. I want you to hold that thought please.

In the Weekend Herald of June 18, a full-page advertisement featuring Men’s Health Week and Oscar Kightley, actor, presenter, comedian, and Men’s Health Week Ambassador. 

The advert uses statements like – “One man in four won’t live to retirement age in NZ”; “Take the test. It could be a lifesaver; and “None of us are perfect when it comes to health especially us men. Get over the staunchness and start the change by taking the What’s Your Score online health survey at menshealthweek.co.nz”. 

Again, another interesting and important set of words. Please hold those thoughts for the moment as well. 

Before I write any more, I should declare my interest in this subject. 

My lifetime and working career have been within the New Zealand livestock industry from the land to agency work, the processing industry, technical support for agriculture, environmental stewardship, Royal Agricultural Society membership in support of A&P Associations across the North Island, and a myriad of other rural community-based activities. 

During the latter part of my working life, I have undergone heart surgery, twice had spinal surgery, battled prostate cancer and committed to a lifetime fight with Parkinson’s Disease (now in its eighth year). 

I am a financial member of the Prostate Cancer Foundation of NZ and a financial member of Parkinson’s NZ. 

I am thankful for all that I have had from the industry over many years, my commitment is to give back to our industry because there is lots to give. 

Reflect for a moment on the opening paragraphs, where I asked you to hold onto some thoughts. 

We all understand and appreciate the importance of farming in NZ not only to the individual but our communities and the national economy. 

In my thinking of that, I include every person who contributes in any way to the support of farming and the rural community. 

Three years ago, I had surgery for prostate cancer and fingers crossed all testing to date hasn’t revealed a return of the cancer. 

I am one of the lucky ones.

Statistically, 3500 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year and 700 will perish, yes, they will die. 

What a waste of human life and intellect. 

We know that men are reluctant to develop a relationship with their local GP and that is just nuts. 

A twice-yearly PSA blood test and the odd digital examination saved me and cost a moment of time with my doctor, as part of a plan to prevent me from departing this earth too soon. 

Every man unnecessarily lost to prostate cancer is a waste of the individual and has a direct effect on family, friends, colleagues at work, and the communities where they live. 

There is no need for this to happen, and it should not be allowed to happen. 

Life is just too precious.

Something that would help massively to get men involved in testing and allow the foundation to really get stuck into the prevention of unnecessary loss of lives due to prostate cancer would be the introduction of a national screening programme just as they have for breast cancer in women. 

Yes, that’s right, you read correctly – women have a nationally advertised and funded screening programme for women. 

Does that suggest women are worth more to save than men? 

In the beginning Eve would have been no good without Adam.

Kristine (Kris) Hayward of Hamilton was so upset at losing her husband to prostate cancer last year that she has got busy preparing a petition to Parliament asking for a screening programme to be introduced without delay. 

The Prostate Cancer Foundation, while walking beside her offering support and compassion as she determines a new pathway forward without her soul mate, has committed to helping with the signing of the petition because they know just how valuable a national screening programme will be in saving the lives of men. 

Any person over the age of 18 can sign their name to the petition and we humbly seek your support and involvement.  

This is not just about men, it’s about everyone – healthy men mean healthy families and ultimately better communities.

As a member of the Prostate Cancer Foundation, I join with others who work hard to place the appropriate messages in front of the public. Because we receive no government funding for our organisation, the Prostate Cancer Foundation of New Zealand depends on donations, sponsorship, bequests from estates and funding wherever we can get it. 

Money is really precious to us, every day we must manage our costs very carefully.

Our promotion this month is Go Dry July, where members of the organisation go without alcohol for the month of July and invite the public to donate in recognition of their efforts. 

I have committed to not consuming a drop of alcohol during the month of July and I will do it, trust me, I intend to complete the month without any booze touching my lips. 

Foundation members right across New Zealand will be seeking support and if you know of any in your area, please give them a donation. 

Every donation will be recognised and those over $5 will be receipted for tax purposes. 

Your support of us, and the endeavours of the Foundation on behalf of all men, is just so important as we reach out with this call for funding.

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