Meet Allan Joseph. He is the newly elected Chief of the Yekooche First Nation, located roughly 75 km northwest of Fort St. James. At 60 years old, Allan is a prostate cancer survivor who considers himself very lucky to have gone through radiation and chemotherapy treatment and live to tell the tale.
It was a little over five years ago that Allan received the diagnosis of prostate cancer, and he received treatment in Vancouver to rid his body of the sickness. Doctors were initially concerned that the cancer may have metastasized (spread) to other organs in the body. His follow-up appointments after the treatment were very regular for the first few years, and Allan made sure that he was taking an active part in his health by making all his appointments so that doctors could keep a close eye on his condition. Seeing his doctor on a regular basis is very important to Allan as he wants to stay on top of any health issues related to the prostate cancer.
The check-ups are an annual appointment for Allan now, just as they should be for all men that are over the age of 50 (hint hint).
The radiation treatments that Allan received caused him to experience quite a bit of weakness and numbness in his legs, and he admits that his mobility has not been the same since his treatment regimen. However, he says that the weakness in his legs is a small price to pay to be cancer free.
Despite his leg troubles, Allan is still an avid hunter and fisher. The hunting and fishing, as well as trapping for furs, has been part of the Yekooche way of life for thousands of years, and is an identifiable piece of his heritage that he cherishes. Living in the north has always presented itself with rugged obstacles that Yekooche members are well prepared to tackle with hunting and fishing methods that have been essential survival skills for millennia.
Family and community are integral to the hunting lifestyle that is so important within their traditional territory. Getting out and continuing the hunting and fishing traditions with his grandchildren is an important way for Allan to pass down the customs of his ancestors, much as his father taught him. Passing traditions down to the grandkids would normally seem routine, but not many people can say that they have 37 grandchildren!! He loves to take the kids out but chuckles as he recollects how noisy some of them can be during the hunt. It’s hard to keep kids in stealth mode!
Allan urges other men to take part in their own health by getting regularly screened for prostate issues, risk factors for heart disease and for blood sugar elevations associated with diabetes. These screenings can help people to identify problems that are easier to address with lifestyle changes when they are detected earlier on. Delaying check-ups can cause health issues to escalate out of control and make them much harder to treat down the road.
For more information on men’s health, visit men.northernhealth.ca.
About Laine Becker
Laine Becker is in his final year of the Bachelor of Nursing program at UNBC, working towards becoming a registered nurse, and has worked as student for NH's men's health program. He's lived in the north his whole life and feels he couldn't have picked a better place to live, choosing to stay here, now raising his two kids with his wife. He feels the north has everything for everyone and the last few years has renewed his passion for being outdoors, as he is teaching his kids the importance of being active and exploring the world in his backyard. He urges men and women to become involved in their own health care: Eat well, exercise regularly and get proper check-ups!