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May 17, 2012

Healthy Living and Michael Finnegan talk Cancer

This month is cancer awareness month. In Healthy Living last week, we discussed the options available locally for screenings of breast cancer. This week, we turn our attention to another cancer. Minister Michael Finnegan is a survivor of prostate cancer. He was diagnosed two years ago and sought immediate treatment. Finnegan has been vocal about his diagnosis from early and is an example of how screening tests and early detection can save your life.


Michael Finnegan, Prostate Cancer Survivor

“Life in general is based on the fundamentals. Life has fundamental principles; whether you are playing football or you are in politics or you’re doing with your health whatever the case maybe there are basic fundamentals that one have to follow. if you follow these fundamentals I believe that you will make it through life.”


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

This is the approach hat Honorable Michael Finnegan says he takes in every aspect of his life. It is a mentality that literally saved his life. Minister Finnegan was aware that he had a family history of cancer. In fact, all his uncles in his mother’s side of the family had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He understood this put him at risk for developing cancer. A man of fundamentals, he made sure to get regular prostate screening tests; and, in early 2010, he got results that changed his life.


Michael Finnegan

“Because I am who follows the fundamentals of life, I from the age of forty-five began screening for prostate.  So every day after the age of forty-five, I stared taking my PSA test which would tell you what the position of your prostate situation.  And all these tests that I was taking as all clear and good until two years ago when I went to the lab and found out that there was an increase of above four of my prostate numbers. This is what sounded the alarm bell for Doctor Pitts.”


Michael Finnegan

The PSA test or Prostate Specific Antigen Test is a common blood test. It detects a glycoprotein in the blood that when found in high numbers can mean the existence of cancer. Honorable Finnegan’s friend and physician Doctor Michael Pitts, advised him to proceed with follow up tests to see if his protein numbers would stay elevated. After, several tests in Belize and with Doctor Errol Elrington in Detroit, the results were the same.


Michael Finnegan

“It was kind of a shockwave because you know that your numbers are not right and the first thing that your mind or your brain says is bwai there’s a possibility that I might have prostate cancer. The urologist said the only way that you can determine if you have prostate cancer is by doing a biopsy. They did the biopsy and it came out clean. There was no cancer.”


Finnegan’s brush with cancer was not over; as per the recommendation of his urologist in Detroit. He repeated the biopsy three months later.


Michael Finnegan

“It’s a frightening thing when you—any test you take is worrying and frightening because it either can be positive or negative. And I could remember clearly that I was at Doctor Elrington’s office and Doctor Pitts in Detroit; the urologist called Doctor Elrington this was about three days after I did the biopsy. While talking on the phone; I heard Doctor Elrington say, “Oh God. Oh my god.” Then I look to Doctor Pitts and I said “Bwoi ah gah cancer.” I was invincible and that invincible was shattered when I was at this cancer—this big building in Detroit Michigan—this big cancer center and on your left you hear groaning; on your right, you hear groaning; behind you, you hear groaning; in front of you, you hear groaning; groaning with pain. And I look at myself and I pinch myself: da me, Michael Finnegan, di een ya with cancer and then I wake up to the realization that, “Oh yes dah me di een ya.”


Ava Lovell, Anchor, Channel  Five {File May 5, 2010}

“He is known for his fiery speeches in the House of Representatives and at the last House Sitting for the Budget debate, he did not show any sign of illness.  But tonight, Minister of Housing, Michael Finnegan is in Detroit, Michigan recovering from a prostate cancer surgery at the Harper University Hospital.”


Michael Finnegan

“I decided that nobody would define my sickness but me. I decided the morning to call all the media houses in Belize and let them know that I was diagnosed cancer and that I would be going through the operation to remove the prostate glands.”


The procedure was done in Detroit using one of the most advanced medical technologies; the Da Vinci Robot. The prostate was removed and tested and found to be at a very early stage of cancer and completely contained. In other words, Finnegan was cancer free.


Michael Finnegan

“My surgery was done on the May fourteenth; two years ago and I have just done my PSA test on Friday of last week and I have been caner free for two long years. You see, I am a public figure and if I am diagnosed with a disease, a very serious disease, a disease that is prevalent or popular among black male—black people—I thought it was incumbent on me to spread the word and help those who are out there how it can be prevented, how you can detect it early, and if by detecting it early, how it can add more onto your life.”


Most important to him was the support of his close friends and family; he praises them for helping him through this difficult time. He is now a vocal advocate for cancer screening. The PSA test can be done at most labs in Belize and is a very effective tool in indicating the possibility of cancer. Early detection may be an important tool in getting appropriate and timely treatment.


If you’d like to get involved in Cancer Awareness Activities, the annual Cancer Walk will be held on May twenty-sixth and the Belize Cancer Society will host a symposium on May thirty-first.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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3 Responses for “Healthy Living and Michael Finnegan talk Cancer”

  1. Phicl says:

    Kudos to you, Minister Finnegan… you are exemplary of what a public figure should be all about. You have gotten the word out and its up to everyone else to take heed. You did not hide behind your illness; you did not let your pride get the better of you; more than all you erased the Belizean stigma that a disease such as cancer should be hush-hush and should be endured in the confines of your own home. Your outspoken attitude may have saved, and will continue to save many more lives.

  2. Brainfood says:

    average man can’t afford to go to Detroit USA. Belize has no Urologist for the past three years since Dr Neil Garbutt died. what is the Ministry of health doing about this

  3. laura says:

    It is fortunate for Minister Finnegan to be able to go to Detroit, as it is fortunate for the First Lady to travel abroad for treatment. What happens to us who are as poor as dirt and diagnosed with cancer, where do we go, who help us with our treatment as surely the government has not done anything in respect to diagnosis and treatment in Belize. Belize Cancer Society is a joke, I am still awaiting a response from them from two years ago. So tell me where do we turn when we don’t have the government funds to go for treatment??????

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