Nervous about Pap tests? CervixCheck can help.

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This month, CervixCheck is dedicated to bringing awareness to cervical cancer screening, and decreasing the stigma of the HPV – the virus that causes cervical cancer.

At CervixCheck we work to educate Manitoba women about the causes of cervical cancer and the importance of screening through regular Pap testing, as well as educate health care providers about best practices in cervical cancer screening.

One clinic in Winnipeg we have worked with is Hope Centre Health Care, where LeAnn Friesen is the clinic coordinator.

In her role, she’s become aware of many reasons that prevent women from booking a Pap test – even though it is a quick, simple test, and it can save your life – and she works with clinic staff to help women overcome any discomfort, confusion or fear they may have in order to help them get screened for cervical cancer.

“It’s an intimate exam, and sometimes women aren’t totally comfortable for a number of reasons,” LeAnn says. “Maybe they are not comfortable having a male doctor do the test, or maybe it’s a language barrier or knowledge barrier, so they put it off.

“We also know that many women have gone through abuse or sexual assault,” LeAnn says, acknowledging that for those women, the test can be especially intimidating.

“There are many clinics that offer Pap testing, and there are lots of resources out there to help,” LeAnn says. “At our clinic we can take as much time as you want, or we can get you out of here as fast as you want. We’ve done it where a second nurse is in the room to hold the woman’s hand or offer comfort. We also have nurses here who work with the sexual assault program in Winnipeg, so they have that experience as well, so we can help out in a lot of different circumstances.”

CervixCheck recommends all women age 21-69 who have ever been sexually active be screened with a Pap test every three years. The Pap test detects abnormal changes to the cells on the cervix, caused by the HPV virus, which can lead to cancer – but can be addressed and treated if detected early, through regular Pap tests.

CervixCheck also works to help women find Pap clinics – you can click here to visit our website, enter your postal code, and see where in your community you can go for a Pap test, including information about the availability of female health care providers, languages spoken by health care providers at each clinic and whether the clinics are wheelchair accessible.

HPV: As common as the common cold

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October is cervical cancer awareness month, and at CervixCheck, CancerCare Manitoba, we have an important message:

HPV is as common as the common cold.

HPV affects over 80% of people and can lead to cancer. Protect yourself from cervical cancer with a Pap test every 3 years.

If you have ever had sexual contact, you are at risk for HPV. HPV is easily spread through current or past sexual contact, which can include oral, genital and/or rectal skin-to-skin contact, or sex with sex toys. HPV infection usually has no signs or symptoms. Most women age 21-69 who have ever been sexually active should have a regular Pap test every 3 years.

 

Help decrease the stigma of HPV and increase awareness of cervical cancer screening, and be entered to win!

  1. Think of something as common as HPV (i.e., the commom cold, being stuck at a train on your way to work)
  2. Tell us, or better yet, show us by snapping a photo.
  3. Post it to your favourite social media: Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram – but be sure to tag us (@GetCheckedMB) in your post. Bonus: use the hashtags #CancerScreeningSavesLives and #GetCheckedMB.
  4. Enter as many times as you like – be creative!
  5. We will draw and notify the winner through the account they entered with on November 1.
  6. For full contest details please click here.

 

 

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Farm Fresh Feasting

Radish
Photo courtesy of @heartsandroots on Instagram.

There are hundreds of fantastic things about Manitoba summers, but one that we humans have come to rely on year after year is the summer fruit and vegetable harvest.

Even if you don’t particularly have a green thumb, there are many, many farmers across the province whose livelihoods depend upon us purchasing their home-grown fruits and veggies – and this is great for us because fresh, local produce is a delicious and nourishing treat from the earth!

There are farmers markets weekly – or more often – across the province. Markets are a great place to pick up your produce and meet the people who grow it, and best of all you come away with nutrient-rich, low-fat, low-calorie, high-fibre food for you and your family to enjoy, which is important for cancer prevention and overall health!

Here are some tips for your next trip to the market:

Make a list

Once you arrive at the market, your eyes can be bigger than your stomach. To avoid purchasing more than your family can eat, come with a list of what you really need.

Plan to freeze or preserve

Our growing season is short in Manitoba, but with some preparation, we can make the summer harvest last throughout (or at least into) the winter months. It’s quite easy to freeze vegetables like beans, broccoli, and cauliflower and fruits like berries. Canning tomatoes or making jarred salsa involves some labour, but is so worthwhile when you open a jar of flavourful summer tomatoes in the dead of winter! Cabbage and pickles are great for fermenting or pickling for a crunchy snack, too.

Stick to the basics

Often there are other fantastic vendors selling bakings, pies, jams and other treats at farmers markets too – but keep in mind that just because something is “homemade” doesn’t make it healthy! Treats like cookies or other farmer’s market finds like popsicles, doughnuts and creamy iced coffee are exactly that – treats. Make vitamin- and mineral-rich foods the primary staple in your diet.

For more summertime nutrition tips, see this article by Gina Sunderland MSc, RD CancerCare Manitoba’s oncology dietician.

And while you’re enjoying your summer, remember that getting checked for cancer should be a regular part of your health routine: most women age 21 – 69 who have ever been sexually active should have a Pap test every 3 years, most women age 50 – 74 should have a mammogram every 2 years and men and women age 50 – 74 should do an at-home screening test for colon cancer every 2 years. Make sure you’re up-to-date, and remind a friend too! www.GetCheckedManitoba.ca

Red meat, processed meats & colon cancer: what should you know?

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“Ban the bacon!” and “Hot dogs as carcinogenic as asbestos, cigarettes!”: these are the kinds of headlines we saw in Fall 2015 when the World Health Organization released the findings of several studies showing  links between red and processed meat consumption and increased risks of colon cancer.

Posts are always popping up in our Facebook newsfeeds about what we should and should not eat in order to avoid cancer and other diseases – it’s hard to know who and what to take seriously.

At GetCheckedManitoba.ca we take colon cancer screening very seriously because colon cancer is the second-most deadly cancer for men (next to lung cancer) and third-most deadly cancer for women (next to lung and breast cancers) in Manitoba. But it is also one of the most treatable – 90% treatable, in fact – when it’s detected early.

The research findings by the WHO are something we should take seriously when it comes to the health of our colons – but let’s clarify some of the facts:

What is red meat?

Red meat comes from: beef, lamb, pork, veal and goat.

What is processed meat?

Processed meat is any meat that has been transformed by smoking, curing, salting, or adding any other chemicals or preservatives, for example: ham, bacon, sausages, salami, hot dogs and cold cuts. (It is primarily from the addition of the preservatives nitrates and nitrites).

Is processed meat as bad for me as smoking cigarettes?

No. The International Association for Research on Cancer (IARC) has deemed processed meats to be in Group 1: Carcinogenic to Humans – the same group where you’d see cigarettes and asbestos – because the evidence states that eating processed meats DOES increase your risk of colon cancer.

However, take this example:

In some studies, people with diets high in processed meat were almost two times as likely to have colon cancer, compared to people who consumed the least processed meat.

BUT smoking cigarettes increases your risk of numerous cancers (including colon and breast) by 20 times, when compared with non-smokers.

That is to say, if you are eating processed meat at each meal of the day, it could be as dangerous to your colon as smoking is to your overall health, but eating a serving (two strips) of bacon with your weekend brunch or roasting a hotdog over the campfire every now and then has very little effect on your risk of colon cancer.

Should I stop eating red meat?

Eating red meat is a personal choice. If you enjoy beef, pork, lamb, etc. as part of your regular diet, you are getting important nutrients from those dishes, including protein, B vitamins, iron and zinc. The WHO recommends limiting your red meat intake to 18oz or less per week – this means about three servings, each about the size of a deck of cards. If you consistently eat more than 18oz of red meat per week, your risk of colon cancer increases.

The best things you can do for the health of your colon (and your health overall!) are:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Do not smoke cigarettes
  • Keep active and maintain a healthy weight
  • Limit alcohol
  • Get checked!

Getting checked for colon cancer is a simple screening test that you can do at home, and it is the best way to protect yourself against colon cancer because it can detect colon cancer early (long before you may experience symptoms), when 90% of the time it is completely treatable, and can prevent colon cancer before it starts. ColonCheck mails the test to Manitobans age 50-74 every two years to get screened for free. For more information, visit GetCheckedManitoba.ca or call 1-855-95-CHECK.

Summertime Pasta Salad

BBQ

With Canada Day long weekend just around the corner, backyard barbecue season is officially underway. And while whatever’s being grilled up usually takes a centre stage, it doesn’t mean the chorus of side dishes can’t hit the high notes too.

Let this summertime pasta salad be your new go-to when you’re asked to bring a side dish to your next summer BBQ. It’s simple, incorporates plenty of summer-fresh veggies, and because the dressing is lemon juice and oil-based, it can withstand the warm, outdoor, summer temps longer than a mayo-based option (which should be refrigerated). Including the fava beans (also called broad beans) incorporates 8g of protein, and 4g of cancer-protective dietary fibre into each serving.

Ingredients:

1 lb whole-wheat shells
1 bunch (about 1 lb.) asparagus
1 cup shelled fava beans (about 2 lbs unshelled beans)*
2 tbsp + 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 cup sliced red onion
1/3 cup dry white wine
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice plus 1 tbsp lemon zest
1 oz arugula (about 1.5 cups)
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp sliced fresh ricotta salata
2 tbsp fresh dill
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Directions:

Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta; cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid; set aside.

Bring medium pot of water to a boil. Blanch asparagus by immersing it in the boiling water. Cook for 3 minutes. Add shelled fava beans and boil for an additional 1 minute.

Drain and plunge the beans and asparagus into ice water to stop the cooking. Remove tough outer skins from beans by pinching the outer skin between your thumb and forefinger. Discard skins. Slice asparagus into 1-inch pieces. In large skillet heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat. Add red onion. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 4 minutes. Add wine; bring mixture to a boil. Cook until liquid is reduced by half.

Remove from heat and add lemon juice, fava beans, asparagus, pasta shells, and 1 cup reserved pasta liquid and toss. Add arugula and tomatoes; toss. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Mix in lemon zest, ricotta, dill, salt and pepper.

Refrigerate and serve cooled. Keeps for 3-5 days.

*frozen fava beans can be substituted

Recipe courtesy of the American Institute for Cancer Research Heath-e-Recipes (and there’s lots more delicious ideas where this came from!)

Bike Week Winnipeg

Bike to Work Twitter

Greetings fellow Winnipeg bikers (and bikers-to-be)!

June 20-24 is Bike to Work Week in Winnipeg – a celebration of active transportation and healthy living – two of GetCheckedManitoba.ca’s favourite activities.

Why do we support biking as an activity or commuter option? Because increased physical activity is proven to decrease the risk of certain cancers, including colon and breast, (not to mention many other health benefits including prevention of heart disease, diabetes, maintaining good mental health and immunity, among other things).

Plus, we know when we ride a bike this is what happens:

In the first 10 minutes: You feel free!

20 minute mark: Your body is ridding itself of cortisol, the stress hormone that can prevent deep, regenerative sleep

40 minute mark: If you ride 5 times per week for this long, you’re likely to take half as many sick days, and reducing your risk of heart disease to less than half that of those who don’t exercise

45 minute mark: Endorphins and serotonin are released into the blood stream, which boosts your mood

GetCheckedManitoba.ca wants to reward those who’ve taken up biking to work (this week and always), with a $120 gift certificate to Mountain Equipment Co-op!

You can enter up to six times. Here’s how:

  1. Like GetChecked Manitoba on Facebook
  2. Tag a buddy in our Bike to Work week Facebook post to remind them to #GetCheckedMB
  3. Follow @GetCheckedMB on Twitter
  4. Re-tweet our Bike to Work week post on Twitter
  5. Follow @GetCheckedMB on Instagram
  6. Tag a friend in our Bike to Work week Instagram post

See on online, and on your bike!

 

 

Contest closes June 26, 2016 at 11:59 PM. Winner must be a Manitoba resident to claim prize. No purchase necessary.

#GetCheckedMB does #ChallengeForLife!

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This Saturday over 700 people will lace up their sneakers and head to Assiniboine Park to kick off the Challenge For Life – Cancer Care Manitoba Foundation’s annual 20 km walk fundraiser.

This year, the GetCheckedManitoba.ca team of health educators has decided to walk to support our partners at the Foundation. We’ll be sure you see us along the route!

The great thing about the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation is that all of the funds raised stay in Manitoba, to promote research in Manitoba, and to improve the cancer journey for Manitobans.

We at CancerCare Manitoba Screening programs are excited to take this opportunity to support the foundation, because they, in turn, support the work we do.

When you make a donation to the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation, you are supporting cancer research in Manitoba, clinical trials, cancer treatment sites across the province, the hiring of hematologists and oncologists, refreshments and other comforts for patients and families during treatment.

But the Foundation also supports Screening Programs, because BreastCheck, CervixCheck and ColonCheck embody two of CancerCare Manitoba’s important mandates:

  • To prevent cancer – regular colon, breast and cervical cancer screening can detect changes in a person’s body at the pre-cancer stage, so polyps in their colon, or cell changes on their cervix can be addressed before they turn into cancer.
  • To detect cancer early, when treatment can be the most successful – eating well, exercising often and not smoking are all recommended in preventing cancer (and many other diseases) but there is no way to ensure you will never get cancer. We screen for breast, cervical and colon cancer so that it can be detected early and treated appropriately. This is why cancer screening is for people who feel well, with no symptoms.

For more information on CancerCare Manitoba Foundation’s Challenge for Life 2.0, or to find out how charitable dollars are used, click here.