Let’s face it: when it comes to booking an appointment with our doctor, many of us postpone it or try and sweep any health problems under the carpet. Combining this with, on the one side, the rising cost of living, and on the other, the high cost of health services in Ireland, it is a good idea to at least find ways to access free health check ups when they are available.
Well, thanks to the Irish Cancer Society the general public, particularly those people from areas of disadvantage, can have a free consultation with a nurse in major shopping centres around Ireland (information received as of October 2022: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month). The Irish Cancer Society has organised a roadshow entitled “Your Health Matters” where they set up stands in shopping centres and offer drop-in appointments to those who request them. These events can make a difference in early detection of cancer and cancer prevention. A study from University College Dublin found that “those who engaged with the Roadshows had increased their knowledge of the signs and symptoms of cancer and improved their understanding of the risk factors related to cancer” (quoted in Your Health Matters page).
What Happens During a Free Health Check Consultation at the Irish Cancer Society Stand
You will meet a nurse in an enclosed room and sign a brief consent form. During the consultation you can talk about your medical history and any areas of concern about your health.
The consultation includes:
- blood pressure measurement
- carbon monoxide (CO) measurement
- body mass index (BMI) calculation.
During the consultation you can discuss what to do if:
- you have high blood pressure – the nurse may advise on lifestyle changes and recommend talking to your physician
- high CO levels – the nurse may advise on an action plan and recommend talking to your doctor
- your BMI shows that you are overweight or obese – the nurse may suggest lifestyle changes and tests you should arrange with your physician
- you have a family history of cancer – the nurse may recommend tests based on your genetic predisposition to cancer, your age, lifestyle, weight and current medical conditions.
These are just general guidelines and the information contained in this article are not meant to be any form of medical advice.
Generally speaking, a healthy lifestyle include the following:
- eating a diet based mainly on unprocessed, fresh food including fruit and vegetables, ideally cooked at home;
- limiting the intake of salt, sugar and caffeinated drinks such as tea and coffee (see for example the NHS’s guidelines to prevent high blood pressure);
- avoiding or limiting the consumption of alcoholic drinks;
- avoiding or limiting smoking;
- keeping the same body weight through regular exercise;
- including some form of relaxation to help manage stress and anxiety
To have all this life-saving information for free and without any hassle is surely the best way to stop procrastinating and start looking after our health, taking all the necessary measures to stay in top form. Find out more information about cancer prevention from the Irish Cancer Society.