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Irish shyness about bodies can be deadly

IRISH people too shy to talk to their doctors about embarrassing health conditions are putting their lives in danger, a celebrity doctor has said.

Dr Pixie McKenna, from Channel 4's Embarrassing Bodies, told how she had never met people as unwilling to discuss their health as the Irish.

"They're a little bit like, 'We have to wait for something to drop off before we come to the surgery,'" she said.

Cork-born Dr McKenna, who has just finished filming the seventh series of the show, warned health shyness could kill because treatment often depended on early diagnosis.

CANCER

"ONE OF OUR MANTRAS ON THE SHOW IS, DON'T DIE OF EMBARRASSMENT. TESTICULAR CANCER, BREAST CANCER – THEY MAY HAVE EMBARRASSING SYMPTOMS BUT YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO WASTE TIME BY SITTING AND HOPING THEY GET BETTER. THE TRUTH IS, YOU MAY NOT SURVIVE.

"When Embarrassing Bodies first went out, I had an influx of Irish patients with various ailments. They suddenly thought I was 'that kind' of doctor."

"They didn't think any other doctor would do that kind of thing in Ireland.

"But where doctors are concerned, a patient is a patient. It doesn't matter what you are looking at – it doesn't make a difference."

Dr McKenna said things were so bad in Ireland, a programme like Embarrassing Bodies could never have been made here.

"I think it would be difficult because everybody knows everybody else in Ireland," she added.

"In the UK it is easy to make a programme like this."

The doctor told how the case she remembered most was a woman teacher who arrived to see her with two testicle-like cysts on her head.

"She had put up with them for 20 years," Dr McKenna said.

"The NHS wouldn't remove them because they weren't cancerous and weren't infected.

"She had to grow her hair a special way to hide the cysts, but when the wind blew all her students would shout at her to put her testicles away".

Dr McKenna was in Cork to launch the Mercy University Hospital Foundation's campaign to raise €3m for cancer, stroke and cardiology projects.

HNEWS@HERALD.IE


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