Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Top to Toe – Prostate problems and Guest Post – PSA Tests – Yes or No by John Maberry


men's health

Welcome to the next part of the male reproductive system and today an overview of the prostate and health issues to be aware of.  Also a repeat of the guest post by John Maberry on Prostate cancer and the treatments available.

Prostate problems

As women face problems with their uterus, and possible hysterectomies, so men are faced with problems with their prostates. The good news is that in the majority of cases the conditions are benign, and are not going to lead to cancer, but symptoms should always be checked out.

In a young man the prostate is about the size of a walnut and it slowly gets larger as a man matures. If it gets too large, however, it can begin to cause problems with the urinary tract resulting in frequent urination and in some cases discomfort. This is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and is very common in men over 60 years old. If problems with urination occur especially at night then a doctor should be consulted. Usually a rectal examination or scans will detect the enlarged prostate and appropriate treatment prescribed. If the enlargement of the prostate and the urination problems are relatively mild then it is usually left for a period of time to see if the normal reduction in testosterone will result in a decrease in the size of the prostate.

If the enlargement of the prostate or the symptoms warrant medical intervention it is usual to prescribe either alpha-blockers (can have some nasty side effects) or a testosterone lowering drug. As the testosterone levels decrease the prostate shrinks and the urination problems are solved. However there can be side effects such as loss of sex drive and possible erectile problems.

There is a herb called Saw Palmetto that is taken by many men, who have been diagnosed with an enlarged prostate. As always, I prefer the natural approach but it is important that you consult your doctor before taking any herb in preference to medication to ensure that your progress is monitored carefully.

In extreme cases surgery may be advised if the urination problem does not improve. It can however result in other problems and should be considered carefully beforehand.

Now for the guest post by  John Maberry author of Waiting for Westmoreland and please feel free to comment and share his post.

PSA Tests—Yes or No by John Maberry

You know about PSA tests, right? A simple blood test that measures the level of prostate specific antigens in the bloodstream. The purpose is to detect the likelihood of cancer. This article is about whether to have one or not. First some background.

The prostate is a walnut sized gland that’s wrapped like a horseshoe around a man’s urethra. It’s primary function is to produce semen. Unfortunately, it can also become cancerous. In the U.S. 1 in 7 men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime. It’s the second leading cause of cancer death among American men, behind only (surprisingly) skin cancer. [American Cancer Society] Sounds scary, but only 1 in 38 men will die of it—a statistical disconnect between cancer-caused and other deaths. How so? Most prostate cancer progresses very slowly and starts after age 50, consequently most men die of something else in their senior years—heart attack, stroke, etc. But if it is cancer that kills them, prostate cancer is #2 on the list.

What about elsewhere in the world? According to 2012 statistics from World Health Organization, the incidence is similarly high in the rest of North America, Australia/New Zealand, Northern and Western Europe—probably because of the high level of PSA testing. Mortality is similar in those developed areas but higher in the Caribbean and most regions of Africa, probably as a result of medical treatment not being as available or affordable.

So, you’re a guy or you have one you care about, what about a PSA test? What follows is a whole lot of discussion of what it is and things for you to consider. But before we get to that, let me give you the bottom line—if you’re like me and have a family history of prostate cancer, ignore generic pros and cons and get the test every year or two.

The test entails drawing a small blood sample from a vein (usually in the arm) and sending it to a lab. What happens after that depends on the PSA level detected. Recently the PSA test has come under scrutiny, with one group in America recommending against routine screening. Others still recommend it. See this website for the pro position. Most other groups focused on men’s health or cancer disagree with the con position and have varying qualifiers related to age and family history—with the final decision to be an agreement between the man and his primary care physician. Medicare, and many private insurers still pay for it. Medicaid may or may not. Why the controversy? It relates in part to the limitations of the test itself and in part to what happens after the results come in. See more on the test at the Mayo Clinic site.

Limitations of the test include:

  • False positive results due to prostatitis, BPH, urinary tract infection or other conditions
  • False negatives due to taking certain drugs such as statins, obesity or low PSA despite a tumor
  • Age—PSA rises with age
  • The test by itself doesn’t correlate highly with the age-related risk of death from cancer
  • The risks of side effects from further testing
  • Side effects from treatment that may not be necessary (see more below on what happens after the test

What happens after the test: If the level is high, a retest may be done. A digital rectal exam (a doctor inserts a gloved in finger in the rectum to feel for hardened lumps on the prostate—which may be done in conjunction with or instead of the PSA test as a routine screening test for BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia—enlargement of the prostate that is very common as a man grows older; it causes more frequent urination as the gland squeezes the urethra). Beyond that, a whole host of potentially more costly and invasive (not to mention worrisome) procedures may be done:

  • A test for a urinary tract infection that might inflame the prostate (raising the PSA) as well
  • A transrectal ultrasound to look for tumors
  • A biopsy of the prostate (accessed through the rectum, the perineum or up the penis); this procedure itself can have side effects such as bleeding, infection and irritation

If the follow up tests confirm the presence of cancer this is where things get complicated

  • Is it the typical slow-growing cancer that will cause no problems before you die or the faster growing kind that requires action?

o Newer PSA velocity tests will note whether your PSA level is climbing quickly—a sign of a fast growing cancer

o The Gleason score measures how fast a cancer is growing—it ranges from 2-10, with 10 being quickest and most likely to spread. [My father died of prostate cancer in 1954 at age 48 and it had metastasized widely; my brother had his prostate removed in 1999 at age 68 when an ultrasound confirmed tumors after a high PSA score of 9.9 and a medium Gleason score—he is still alive and kicking at 84] See more on Gleason score here.

  • You have two basic options—watchful waiting or active surveillance with periodic retests (depends on your age) or treatment to remove the cancer
  • Treatments include [See more at Mayo]:

o Radiation—external beamed into the body or brachytherapy (rice grain sized pellets inserted in your body)

o Hormone therapy that reduces testosterone (the hormone helps the cancer grow)

o Cryotherapy (freezing prostate tissue)

o Biological therapy, also known as immunotherapy

o Surgery to remove the prostate

  • The bad news: all of the treatments, except possibly the hormone therapy, have a significant risk of urinary incontinence or erectile dysfunction. This is where the issue of overtreatment becomes real and is a core part of the argument against screening—the doctor finds a cancer and the man gets treatment with side effects when if the prostate were left alone the cancer wouldn’t kill him.

So, as noted before, if you’re like me with a family history of prostate cancer the answer is clear—get the test. If you are of African descent, probably should get the test too. In any case, ask your doctor. Don’t stick your head in the sand and hope for the best.

About John Maberry.

51lrgur3ncl-_ux250_

John Maberry dreamed of being a writer from second grade. Life got in his way. Like what, you may ask. Find out the details in Waiting for Westmoreland, the memoir he wrote about how he came to have a happy and successful life. That, after surviving a hard childhood, failed marriages, an eye opening year in Vietnam and more. He finished the memoir five years after retiring from a local government job in busy Northern Virginia.

That’s John in the photo, relaxing with his friend Larry the Lizard. He met Larry in Mimbres,
New Mexico. John and his wife relocated to scenic New Mexico six years ago. That move and other priorities, stalled the transition to speculative fiction, mysteries and writing genres. Finally, The Fountain, a collection of speculative fiction stories, is coming out in July, 2017. He’s also working on a few novels, planning for one every one to two years. No more delays, time is fleeting.

When not working on the novels or the websites, the family enjoys life in their dream home high atop a hill. His wife of 35+ years has her quilting/craft room. He has an office shared with an energetic dog who lounges on a loveseat behind him when not out chasing rabbits. He’s a happy man and a funny guy (strange/weird his wife says).

Books by John Maberry

About John’s latest release – The Fountain and six more fantasy & Scifi stories.

Humor, twists and more in this collection of seven fantasy and sci-fi short stories. Karma can be painful in “The Fountain”–when a plunderer meets a long-dead shaman. A family adopts a retriever with special talents in “Lily, an Amazing Dog.” A vampire has a strange problem, in “Alfred’s Strange Blood Disorder.” A perennial favorite, dimensional travel, with a strange twist in “The Closet Door.” What could that column of fire be, rising from the Atlantic off the Outer Banks? Read “The Flame” to find out what it meant to troubled writer Carson. A wizard casts a spell that works well for a princess, but will it be as good for him? Check out “The Wizard.” Finally, “The Fribble” offers an alien encounter of an odd sort, to a pharmaceutical company rep searching for new drugs in the Amazon Rain forest.

One of the early reviews for the book

If you enjoy short stories in fantasy/sci-fi genres, and stories that make you think then look no further than Maberry’s tales which will engross you with stories about karma, greed, time travel, aliens and muses.

In this book you will read stories about: a dog with extra sensory perception, a writer battling his own sub-conscience, a wizard who wonders if the spells he casts for others will work for himself, a man who experiences 2 lifetimes by opening a closet door. These are just a few of the stories to stimulate your reading appetite.

Maberry is a prolific writer who knows how to keep a reader captivated till the end and finishes his stories with an unexpected twist. This book also offers an excerpt to the author’s next upcoming novel. As in true Maberry style, he leaves us hanging in anticipation with more to come. A great read!

Read the reviews and buy the collection: https://www.amazon.com/Fountain-more-fantasy-sci-fi-stories-ebook/dp/B071KLTTJR

Read all the reviews and buy both books: https://www.amazon.com/John-Maberry/e/B002BM82FU

Connect with John.

My quarterly webzine on my Eagle Peak Press site
My book website, Waiting for Westmoreland
Writing blog, John Maberry’s Writing
Eclectic blog, Views from Eagle Peak

Social Media:

My thanks again to John for sharing this post and it is worth sharing as the message needs to be driven home…. #Get Checked

All the top to toe posts can be found in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-2017-top-to-toe/

 

Advertisements

Smorgasbord Health – A -Z of Common Conditions – Cancer – Prostate


A-Z

Some of you may have read this during Men’s Health Week last year but I do believe that it is a post worth repeating so that there is an awareness to act sooner rather than later if there is even the slightest change in the way our body behaves.

My father was diagnosed at age 77 with prostate cancer and it was at least stage three. This was twenty-five years ago and the treatment is radiation and lots of it. It gave him time but the last year was very hard on him. The radiation had caused a blood disorder that required him to have a regular blood-transfusions and good naturedly he would present himself at the hospital on the designated Friday.. My father loved his food and the day is significant… they served fish ‘n’ chips.  Eventually he required these transfusions weekly and after a short period of time he passed away aged 80.

Today there have been huge advancements in the detection and treatment of prostate cancer and the prognosis is much improved. But it is dependent on a very important factor and that is early detection.

I explored some very frightening figures after an image was posted on facebook from Just Eat Real Food that claimed that from 1900 the risk of developing cancer had increased dramatically from 1 in 30 to 1 in 2.  Many people thought that this could not be true.  Well it appears that it well might be.

In the UK, Cancer Research UK states that for those born after 1960 there is a 1 in 2 chance of developing a cancer of one type or another… This will be reflected in other countries who have adopted a highly industrialised food chain which includes mass farming methods and chemical and hormonal  ‘enhancements’ at each phase of the production process.

We all have rogue cells that are pre-cancerous but if we have a strong immune system these cells either self-distruct or are contained by our own defences.

However, if those defences are weakened by a nutritionally deficient diet, those actions will not occur and in a sugar rich and oxygen deprived environment, cancer cells will reproduce rapidly.

We are now living longer and as we age so do our cells. As our diet and lifestyle changes in later years, our immune system weakens and the defences are down. It is therefore absolutely possible that 1 in 2 of us will develop some form of cancer in our lifetime. The difference being that cancers that develop in our bodies in our 80s and 90s are likely to grow slowly and outlive us.

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/risk/lifetime-risk#heading-Zero

Male reproductive health issues

As women face problems with their uterus, and possible hysterectomies, so men are faced with problems with their prostates. The good news is that in the majority of cases the conditions are benign, and are not going to lead to cancer, but symptoms should always be checked out.

male_internal_side

What is the prostate?

The prostate gland is a very small walnut shaped structure that sits at the base of the bladder and surrounds the ejaculatory ducts at the base of the urethra. Its role is to produce an alkaline fluid that mixes with the semen from the vesicles before it is passed into the penis to be ejaculated. This probably acts as a booster for the sperm keeping them active and therefore more likely to fertilise an egg should the opportunity arise.

In a young man the prostate is about the size of a walnut and it slowly gets larger as a man matures. If it gets too large, however, it can begin to cause problems with the urinary tract resulting in frequent urination and in some cases discomfort. This is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and is very common in men over 60 years old.

If problems with urination occur especially at night then a doctor should be consulted. Usually a rectal examination or scans will detect the enlarged prostate and appropriate treatment prescribed. If the enlargement of the prostate and the urination problems are relatively mild then it is usually left for a period of time to see if the normal reduction in testosterone will result in a decrease in the size of the prostate.

If the enlargement of the prostate or the symptoms warrant medical intervention it is usual to prescribe either alpha-blockers (can have some nasty side effects) or a testosterone lowering drug. As the testosterone levels decrease the prostate shrinks and the urination problems are solved. However there can be side effects such as loss of sex drive and possible erectile problems.

In extreme cases surgery may be advised if the urination problem does not improve. It can however result in other problems and should be considered carefully beforehand.

Prostate cancer

Women dread the words breast, ovary or uterine cancer and for men it is prostate cancer. As with most cancers if it is found early then the chances of recovery are very good. Unfortunately the early signs of cancer can be confused with BPH which is why it is an excellent idea to consult a doctor the moment you feel there is a change to your urination in any way. This is especially true if you develop a burning sensation or pain during urination or there is blood present in the urine. Sometimes there could also be blood in semen, pain in the back, hips or pelvis and painful ejaculation. There can also be an innocent and harmless cause of some of these symptoms but it is important to clarify the situation immediately with your doctor.

Apart from a physical examination a doctor will also conduct a blood test to determine the levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA). These may be higher in men with either an enlarged prostate or cancer and it is backed up by an ultrasound to establish any abnormalities in the gland.

Usually a biopsy is necessary to confirm the diagnosis and is commonly done by the doctor under local anaesthetic.

Treatment

These days if the cancer is in the early stages and slow growing it will be monitored regularly to determine if the next stage in the treatment is necessary. Treatments are being refined and reviewed continually and your doctor will have the latest information at hand.

The most common type of surgery is a radical prostatectomy where the whole prostate and some surrounding tissue is removed. This may result in loss of sexual function or urinary problems that may not correct themselves. There is a modified operation that reduces the risk of nerve damage and therefore impotence that some men will be offered if appropriate.

Radiation treatment is used in some cases prior to surgery to kill cancerous cells and shrink the tumour and following surgery to ensure that all harmful cells have been eliminated. There are two kinds of radiation, externally beamed into the prostate and internally where radioactive “seeds” are placed in the prostate itself, into or near the actual tumour. There can be some side effects with this treatment including impotence and incontinence, which will have to be managed in the long term.

Following radiation, patients may be offered hormonal treatment to prevent the cancer from reoccurring or if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. This will usually result in menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes as well as a loss of sexual desire.

Now to a different perspective on prostate cancer treatment.

This in no way negates the need to get checked, as a physical examination is key to determining if there is a problem with the prostate. Whilst unpleasant (and trust me we women have equally invasive examinations) a few minutes of embarrassment or discomfort is better than years of treatment and doubt about the outcome.

Today treatments are targeted very specifically in the area affected and as you will read a different approach to beginning treatment is usually followed if the cancer is in the very early stages. A ‘watch carefully and wait and see’ strategy is particularly relevant if the patient is in their late 70s and 80s as certain cancers have a less aggressive growth pattern as we age.

Do read the article so that should you face a diagnosis of prostate cancer you can ask all the right questions to ensure that you explore all the options available. Be aware that different consultants have their own approach to specific cancers and whilst the ‘wait and see’ strategy is widely adopted in the UK it may be very different where you live.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/09/06/survive-prostate-cancer-without-surgery.aspx?e_cid=20150906Z2_DNL_art_1&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20150906Z2&et_cid=DM85074&et_rid=1105579098

This series is not intended to be used as a diagnostic tool..It is however a recommendation to find out about areas of the body which are at risk and to ensure that you notice changes that occur.. Nobody else can do that except perhaps someone close to you. This is why it is so important for partners to also keep an eye out for changes in habits that might indicate that there is a problem.

The sooner that prostate cancer is diagnosed the better the outcome. Get Checked.

You will find other posts in the A – Z of Common Conditions in the directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-a-z-of-common-condition/

 

Men’s Health Week Revisited – Don’t Put Things Off by author Kevin Cooper


men's health

My thanks to author and fellow blogger, Kevin Cooper, for contributing this post about his own health experience. He is sharing an important message.. Don’t Put Things Off and #GetChecked.

Don’t Put Things Off by Kevin Cooper

About five years ago, before I started blogging and writing seriously, I was working back-office for the NHS as a Despatch Officer. It was a pretty routine, almost 9-5 Mon-Fri job… which I got used to all too quickly since all my working life prior to that had been anything but routine and most certainly not 9-5, or only five days a week for that matter. In fact, I couldn’t at the time recall working less than 50-60 hours a week, never mind less than 40!

I mention this to stress the fact that I was working, probably the easiest schedule I’d ever had, and did a job that was not too demanding physically, nor was it mentally draining. Yet despite all this, it didn’t occur to me that anything was really out of the ordinary when after getting home from work I would collapse on the settee and be in such a deep sleep that Pat had to wake me up to have my tea. (Dinner for my beloved America friends)

What was happening to me, I pretty much kept to myself and tried explaining it away… “Oh, long day at work… so many orders coming in from the GPs and nurses for prescription pads which require clearances…” I was making excuses for myself and looking outside of the problem instead of dealing with something real that was happening to me personally.

I never discussed what was really going on until Pat pressured me about it. I was ok until I got home, then as soon as I sat down on the settee I felt completely drained… it was horrible, next moment I was out. I explained it to Pat best I could because I could see it was affecting her too and she found herself having to do extra tasks around the house which we used to share. So in a way, it was putting a strain on our relationship as well.

Pat kept telling me to go see the Doctor, kept telling me it wasn’t normal, but I’d always come out with “It’s probably…” it went on for weeks, and weeks turned into months even as I got tired of Pat “badgering” me. So I made promise after promise to make an appointment, but allowed one thing after another to get in the way all too easily.

I knew something was wrong, but kept blowing it off. That’s the problem we men have, we blow things off, all too easily and don’t really take care of ourselves. We’re good at seeing others are alright, giving advice, and even making sure that our wives are getting all the care they need when they are not well, but we hate being on the other side of the coin… and convince ourselves to “man up” to it.

Finally, a letter from my GP surgery came mentioning something about a health check and since I had to take Pat for an appointment anyway, I let her talk me into going ahead with it. I didn’t know they were going to do blood tests, otherwise I wouldn’t have gone… I’m a wimp when it comes to that! Anyway, the following week I got a message from the surgery telling me I needed to go in and see the GP.

The GP was great. He asked me what I did for a living, how I was feeling, all the general stuff, and of course I was telling him how everything was just great. That’s when Pat chimed in. (She’d insisted on coming with me… probably because she knows me all too well.) The GP grinned, he apparently already knew about my problem and that’s when he let me have it. He told me I had an underactive thyroid, explained what the thyroid does and concluded with what was really happening to me is that I’m overworking my thyroid so much that my body is basically saying, “Enough” and shutting down. He went on to tell me that this couldn’t go on or I would end up with even greater problems but the good news was, they could fix it… The magic words! I was all ears at that point.

Since then I’ve been on Levothyroxine and having blood tests done every few months to make sure my thyroid levels are ok. They’ve increased my dosage twice, and I’ve since stopped having that draining feeling and falling into a deep sleep after work. And I have the energy to do whatever household tasks are needed, releasing Pat from the added burdens.

My message guys is, don’t put things off, and don’t make excuses… It may be something, or it may be nothing, but it’s not worth the risk to yourselves, it’s not worth the added strain on your relationship, and it’s not fair to your wife or partner.

About Kevin Cooper

a1zyhdew76l-_ux250_

Kevin Cooper was born in Hull, East Yorkshire, England in 1963

He moved to the USA in 1985 when he was 21 years old. He graduated with a BA in Psychology from Asbury College in Kentucky with recognition on the Dean’s List. He continued his studies at the Grand Canyon University in Arizona, where he obtained a Research Fellowship and graduated with a M.Ed with a strong focus on writing and grammar.

While in America, Kevin has been a College Lecturer of General Studies, a Manager for The Hertz Corporation, who acknowledged him with awards of recognition for his service and dedication to the company, a Substitute Teacher, and a Private Tutor.
He now resides in England and is an established Author of several works.

Kevin founded Kev’s Author Interviews and Author of the Month to help promote fellow authors worldwide through his website and across the social media networks.
He recently re-branded his website to Kev’s Great Indie Authors with added features for authors including an editing service and book reviews. He is always developing his services as he comes across new ways to help promote indie authors.

A selecton of books by Kevin Cooper

41c9jzpkqyl-_uy250_51tood7xwl-_uy250_51uhaelypwl-_uy250_51oheje9rl-_uy250_51wzxzu1xwl-_uy250_51zpaloj4fl-_uy250_

Find out more about and buy Kevin’s Books here:
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/460158.Kevin_Cooper
http://www.amazon.com/Kevin-Cooper/e/B00EWFEYKQ
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/KevsStuff

Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/shop/kc-huffington/the-magic-of-geo/paperback/product-22256163.html
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/K.C.-Huffington/e/B0134M6YU0

Connect with Kevin on his Blog and Social Media.
https://kcbooksandmusic.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GrtIndieAuthors
Google: https://plus.google.com/+KevinCooper/posts

 

Men’s Health Week – Life and Health on the Streets – The Big Issue Foundation


mens health week

Those of us who live in countries with socialised medicine can assume that everybody has access to the services or will take advantage of them. This is not true. There are usually barriers to obtaining and receiving medical care unless you know where to find them.

The sheer physical and mental toll that living rough without a roof over your head, regular food and keeping safe, is the priority. This results in deteriorating health in a remarkably short space of time. Remember the last time you had toothache and picked up the telephone to your dentist. Or you had back pain and made an appointment with your GP. Even though you were registered how difficult was it to get an emergency appointment rather than wait the average three weeks to see your doctor?

Then consider how difficult that would be without telephone, registered doctor or dentist, or access on where to find one!

Accident and Emergency centres frequently see those who are living on the streets but usually when their health has reached a critical level. This is why the work of the organisations such as The Big Issue are so vital.

The Big Issue Magazine and Foundation

Earlier in the year I featured some posts on the work of The Big Issue Foundation and here is a reminder of their work and details of their health support services for those who are homeless or facing financial difficulties.

My view on charity is that its aim should always be to enable people to become independent wherever possible. Which is why I support organisations that provide the means, equipment, training and confidence to those who want to take back control over their own lives.

The Big Issue is such an organisation. Most of us who have lived in the UK will have seen one of their vendors outside a supermarket or in the local shopping area. The Big Issue is not a begging letter or intended to act as a collection tin but is an interesting, topical publication full of features, reviews and inspirational stories of people who have reached a pivotal stage in their lives.

1170_web_0

Vendors come from all walks of life, and having signed up for the project, are not looking for hand-outs or charity. Whilst their initial copies may be free during their training period they will then go on to buy their copies for £1.25 and sell to us for £2.50 which is excellent value for this information packed magazine.

For all the details on the Big Issue and stories about their inspiring vendors here is the link.   http://www.bigissue.com

The Big Issue Foundation and Charity Events.

The Big Issue Foundation supports those who sell the magazine in many ways. Perhaps to assist them get back on their feet after losing a job or their home, and importantly away from long-term homelessness on the streets. This support provides access to health care, temporary housing, training and employment counselling and help towards buying equipment or clothing to assist the man or woman in moving forward with projects to obtain work.

We all hear stories of how much of every pound we donate to charity is eaten up by administration costs but I was impressed with how the distribution of donations for the foundation is accounted for.

In the year ending 31 March 2014 for every £1 spent 60p was spent on work with vendors (+8.5% from 12/13), 34p was spent on raising income (-13.5% from 12/13) and 6p was spent on running the charity (+11% from 12/13).

Promoting health and wellbeing among Big Issue vendors

Apart from everyday advice and guidance, the foundation also provides access to health care including nutritional advice, vaccinations, health screening and dentistry.

img_1775_0Each year The Big Issue Foundation runs a week of activities designed to promote, inform and encourage positive health among Big Issue vendors. The 2014 Health Week ran from 3-8 November across 10 cities.

The overriding aim of health week is to improve the mental and physical health and wellbeing of vendors. Four main themes set the framework for the various activities undertaken across the country.

These were:

  • Improving access to screening and vaccinations
  • Nutritional advice and guidance
  • Health needs relating to alcohol, drugs and sexual health awareness
  • Promoting positive physical and mental health

img_1777_0

For the full article here is the link.

https://www.bigissue.org.uk/about-us/health-week-2014-report

I think it is clear from the next report, that those who work within the foundation, treasure the success stories of the vendors they have worked with. In this report on highlights from the year, it is evident that lives are being changed completely and permanently by the intervention of the work carried out by the charity.

‘In the last year our services team worked with over 2200 Big Issue Vendors, achieving over 27,000 service contacts & more than 5800 positive outcomes, a record breaking year of achievements for Big Issue Vendors. The average fully cost recovered price per outcome fell to just £150, representing exceptional value for money in an increasingly complex environment.

Each step that each vendor takes in their journey away from homelessness represents a huge achievement. Here are some highlights from our frontline team from last year’

One of the highlights of the year contributed by Liam is about Steven whose health had been severely compromised by living on the streets… Here is his story.

‘Steven came into the Big Issue Office Bournemouth in September 2014 wanting to be become a vendor. He explained that he had been rough sleeping on & off for the last 5 years & was hoping to sell the Big Issue to earn a legitimate income & move away from begging. As I was inducting Steve, we spoke about the last time he saw a GP, to which he replied not since he nearly lost his hand through frost bite. He then proceeded to show me his hand, with one finger missing.

Obviously our first port of call with Steve was to support him with registering at our designated GP practice, from this point Steve starting receiving treatment for his hand & leg which had also become badly infected due to his lifestyle/rough sleeping. Steve would attend the doctors once a week to have his leg & hand dressed & was regularly selling the Big Issue throughout.

After discussing housing with Steve we agreed that he was in no condition to be rough sleeping, the only problem being that he had no local connection. We raised Steve’s situation at within our Multi Agency Rough Sleeper Action Group, it was agreed that Steve would be given a local connection due to him selling the Big Issue in the area & his current poor health.

Even though Steve is not selling the Big Issue anymore due to the fact he is concentrating on his health & wellbeing, I am happy to say he has been accommodated since January. He is regularly attending appointments regarding his health & still pops in the office to say hi. This is a positive outcome & shows how well The Big Issue Foundation can & does work within a multi-agency approach to support Big Issue Vendors.’
Liam

To read the full report and more experiences of those working within the organisation follow the link.

https://www.bigissue.org.uk/about-us/service-highlights-201415

Charity Events.

There are various projects aimed at raising money and the foundation is totally dependent on donations and grants.

This next challenge is a wonderful opportunity for keen cyclists to get on their bikes for the foundation… London to Amsterdam Saturday, 19th September 2015 to Monday, 21st September 2015.The challenge involves riding 150 miles in two days which is no mean feat. It is however suitable for cyclists of average fitness levels as well as professionals.

You do not physically have to get on your bike and cycle to Amsterdam… You can still help others achieve their targets that are completing the challenge and would love your help.

Most of you who have read my blog posts know that I believe in the accumulation factor in most of the projects we undertake and that it is the 101 small changes that we make that add up to a huge difference. This means that every donation, however small, matters. Here are the donation pages for two vendors who are taking part in the event and by supporting their efforts you will be making a difference.

Here are their donation pages at Virgin Money Giving and Just Giving for Dean and Andre.

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=DeanPorterCycling

https://www.justgiving.com/Andre-Rostant/

For the rest of the posts from Men’s Health Week here is the directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/mens-health-week-7th-11th-september/

Please feel free to comment and share the post.  Also if you live in the UK or a country where there are similar organisations working with those who are homeless..please do not walk past, but stop and buy a magazine and spend some time with the vendor. The money you pay for the magazine will be very much appreciated but your time will be priceless!