My husband, Tom is a good-looking guy … just a little short in the hair department. “It’s not that I’m bald,” explains my sweet husband. “I’m follicly-challenged.” But Tom’s shiny pate proved to be a blessing in disguise. Because of his receding hairline, it was easy to discover a little “boo-boo” developing atop his head.
Typical guy, Tom put off getting it checked. But the scaly patch continued to grow until I finally insisted he see a dermatologist. I even made the appointment. Long story short, the biopsy found the little lesion was a form of basal cell carcinoma.
Thank God, the skin cancer was found early. Removed by a plastic surgeon nearly two years ago, today the scar is barely visible and Tom is cancer-free. I shudder to think what may have happened had he put off seeing a doctor.
It makes me wonder. Why are guys like Tom (who would never put off servicing his car!) so reluctant to take care of their own bodies? Listen guys, the odds are against you. American men live sicker and die younger than American women. Men also die earlier than women for all the leading causes of death. Why? According to the Men’s Health Network, women are 100% more likely to visit the doctor for annual exams and preventive screenings than men!
But there’s an easy fix! Many diseases can be prevented or treated when symptoms are caught early. In fact, men’s top health threats, including heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, influenza and suicide, are mostly preventable.
In fact, men can start by following five simple recommended screenings:
Cholesterol: Have a cholesterol test at least every five years starting at age 35.
Blood Pressure: Check blood pressure at least every two years.
Colorectal Cancer: Begin regular screening at age 50.
Diabetes: Screen for diabetes if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Prostate Cancer: Men age 50 or older should discuss screening with their doctor.
Still not persuaded? Well, maybe guys need to be convinced that real men need health care. So, I checked in with one of San Diego’s most famous “real men” for his perspective. Known for his astute sports commentary, Billy Ray Smith co-hosts the popular “Scott and BR Show” with Scott Kaplan on San Diego’s XX 1090Sports Radio.
But the easy-going sports radio guy is probably best known as #54 … the all-pro NFL football star and one of the greatest San Diego Chargers of all time.
Throughout his NFL career, Billy Ray was the picture of health. Now, off the field (and 20 pounds lighter!), BR still makes his health a priority. Check out my Q&A to learn more.
Q&A with Billy Ray Smith
Carol: How did you stay in top form while playing with the Chargers?
BR: I learned from my Dad who also played in the NFL. I used to run with him … even went to the training facility with him.
Jessica Davis Photography
Carol: After 10 years, what made you decide to retire from football?
BR: Another lesson from my Dad. He played 13 years and had to have knee replacement surgery. After suffering a torn calf, I decided not to hang on until the very last second and left the game still happy and healthy.
Carol: You played at 235 pounds. You’re much leaner today. Is that by design?
BR: The first thing I did after retiring was drop 20 – 30 pounds. The extra weight would have taken a toll later on my hips and knees.
Carol: You’re still super-fit. Do you work out?
BR: I walk with Kim every day and use dumbbells at home 2-3 times a week. I like to run and plan to get back into “hot” yoga. I love getting the sweat going.
Carol: What about preventive maintenance?
BR: I definitely keep up with my annual physicals. The League provides screenings and does a great job of making sure all the guys get checked.
Carol: I know Kim is devoted to a Mediterranean style diet. How ‘bout you?
BR: I’m not on the Kimberly Hunt diet … yet! But I try to emulate her, with a cheeseburger thrown in once in a while.
Carol: Hmmm. A cheeseburger with EVOO perhaps?
BR: Extra Virgin Olive Oil? Sure, why not?!
Carol: What about “junk” food?
BR: I love jalapenos … and anything “hot.”
Carol: Any tips for handling stress?
BR: I honestly don’t know what that is. I’m the luckiest guy on earth. Great friends. The greatest wife and daughter. I talk sports and they pay me for it!
Carol: And your co-host, Scott? You seem to get along well…
BR: Funniest guy I know. To be able to laugh things off, that’s huge.
Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.