EDITORIAL: Stay proactive with your health

Those without a family physician need to advocate for themselves

We were keenly interested, not to mention humbled, to hear Langford resident and volunteer extraordinaire Bill McElroy tell us about his experiences with prostate cancer.

Even more so given the fact he arrived in our office virtually on the eve of undergoing surgery to have his prostate gland completely removed.

Not only did his action show great courage, – sharing his very personal battle with our readers and others around the West Shore and Greater Victoria – the conversation reminded us that we all are our best advocates for own health.

McElroy, like thousands of people on the West Shore and around the region, is without a regular family physician. As such, under the general rules, he is ineligible to have a PSA test ordered – much like women are technically ineligible for a mammogram without having a regular physician to whom the results can be sent. Nonetheless, he demanded of the clinic doctor that the test be ordered, as a way to keep track of his prostate health.

The shortage of family physicians in this province, of which the West Shore is a good representation of the numbers, has left many people in the same situation as McElroy. It has all the potential to see people die before they can receive the crucial tests needed to prolong their lives.

While its still up to us as individuals to look after our own health, whether or not we have the “luxury” of having a family physician, it’s clear that the province needs to take another good look at its long-term plans for health care. More definitive instructions need to be given to those people who would fall through the cracks.

Bill McElroy is one of the lucky ones because he took action. Not everyone in the same boat will be so fortunate.

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