Just two short years ago Fit4Life Executive Board Member and Wellness Champion Dr. Eric Griggs launched the "Step Away" Prostate and Colon Cancer Kick-Off Event in the city of New Orleans.
“‘Step Away’ was a city-wide health initiative kick-off which emphasized the importance of screenings in partnership with the American Cancer Society (ACS).” Doc Griggs is a spokesperson for the ACS and a health and wellness ambassador for the city of New Orleans.
This particular event is just one of many events sponsored by the American Cancer Society, Fit NOLA and 100 Black Men that "Doc Griggs" works on. They are helping to implement a national initiative to motivate people to go and have health screenings done. In the African-American community, the type of prostate cancer that they are predominately being diagnosed with is not only aggressive but often times already in the late stages by the time it is diagnosed. If we can get people to go have screenings done, we can catch cancer before it is in the advanced stages.
“What we’re doing is an ‘underwear awareness’ initiative. We are educating people about prostate exams and colonoscopies. Because most men view this as a ‘traumatic’ event they won’t even go and get screened, let alone have these discussions with their doctor. We’re trying to educate people that there are other types of screenings that are less invasive than the standard prostate exam and colonoscopy. They can have a FITT test done or have a stool occult blood sample tested to determine whether a more invasive test is even needed.”
“The good news is having a colonoscopy done is not only a screening but it can be diagnostic as well. If a polyp is found they can remove it right then and there. A polyp typically takes up to 10 years to become a cancerous tumor. This is why you are supposed to have a screening done every 10 years. If they do find a polyp, it is recommended that you come back every 5 years to help monitor any recurrences.”
“The main purpose of these type of events is to heighten awareness.”
“The key to good health is prevention and that starts with conversations. The key to disease prevention is to be healthy.”
“Our three key recommendations are:
“When we get together with our family we talk about work, sports, politics … basically everything but our health and family history. We need to talk to our family members about our family history. Health prevention and disease diagnosis comes out of the roots of your tree. And just because you are predisposed to something does not mean it is going to happen. There are things you can do to take control of your health and to help prevent it from coming to fruition.”
“I tell my patients to go to the doctor right before the football season every year so they have a benchmark. ‘You know your favorite team is going to give you a heart attack every year so you might as well be prepared.’” (laughs)
“Get fit and get healthy.”
“You do this by eating well and coloring your plate. I don’t believe in diets. I believe diets die. Everyone I know who has been on a diet has failed. You may lose 20 pounds, but then you gain back 40. Instead of going on a 'diet,' control your portion sizes and eat in moderation.”
“Find something you like to do. Anything really … garden, ride your bike, run, dance, get out the hula hoop … just get moving. One minute of dancing in front of the mirror in the morning burns 50-100 calories. All of these things fall into the realm of wellness.”
“On January 21st of this year, one of my best friends died of colon cancer at the age of 46. He was a healthy guy. We would work out together all the time. One day he complained of a pulling sensation in his lower abdomen and we just assumed that he had just pulled something. When he went to the doctor to get it checked out they found a grapefruit sized tumor in his abdomen. He had never had a colonoscopy and he had no family history.”
“If you have a family history of lower body cancers, such as ovarian or kidney, you are at a higher risk level for colon and prostate cancer.”
“His passing is part of what is fueling my fervor to get this movement going. Over the course of the next year we are going to do a different screening in each district of New Orleans. We are going to create awareness and then get people to screenings.”
“Everyone needs to think about what they are putting into their bodies … and go to the doctor. At every event I give out my number. If you have a health question, call me! If you are afraid to go to the doctor and you want someone to go with you to ask the right questions, call me! I want to take away the fear of the unknown.”
“Our ultimate goal is to track how many people go to the doctor and get screened, roll these initiatives out in other cities and to get a million people screened nationwide.”
“If you keep it fun you will keep people moving because it no longer feels like 'work.' It’s so much easier to hold someone’s attention when you have them laughing and smiling.”
“I’m not a scary doctor … I’m just a regular dude.”
Besides being a "regular dude," Doc Griggs specializes in Community Medicine. What is a Community Medicine specialist you ask?
A "Community Medicine specialist in other hand is designated to handle research in healthcare, health need of communities, plan and administer research for changing need and prospective community, city, province and the nation...."
"The demand of evolving communities necessitates this reform in medicine to not only concern about individual health; but to expand its mission for the entire community such as a neighborhood, a city, a region or entire country."
"The importance of Community Medicine has been very well recognized all over the world both industrial and developing nation by including community in the discipline of medicine. The scope of medical care is expanded to other disciplines such as economic, housing, city planning, nutrition and communication."
“I love the fact that the American Cancer Society celebrates birthdays. They celebrate the fact that you made it to another year. That’s an easy sell. That is not the sell that’s being done in most doctor offices.”
“Your doctor is like the coach in the booth above the game, and you are the player on the field. You might not understand the play he’s calling or why he’s calling it, but it’s your job to execute the play.”
“I didn’t want to go into medicine. I actually tried to get out. My mom had a health issue that I couldn’t (and still can’t) help. My dad died in hospice, in front of my entire family, holding my hand and I thought ‘to hell with this. I do not want to do this anymore.’”
“I started teaching, rehabbing houses, anything but medicine.”
“My wife and I had a med spa and a family practice but all I was doing was office support & maintenance.”
“I was asked to go on a radio show and talk about the med spa and the radio host kept calling me Dr. Griggs. Then people started calling in to the show with medical questions and asking me for advice and the radio host ended the show with, ‘and next week we will be back with more medical advice on the Dr. Griggs Medical show,’ and I was kicking him under the table. No, no, no!”
“He said to me, ‘just come back and talk more about the medical spa’ … and that turned into me having my own radio show. “
“I love it. I’m reaching more people. It’s what I wanted to do all along because through my outreach people are actually listening to me. You can try to do what you want but you can’t run away from what God wants you to do.”
“My marketing/brand manager is a former football player from Tulane University. He asked me if I could get some other Notre Dame players behind my initiative. The next day I called him and said … ‘so far I’ve got Irv Smith, Steve Pope and Oscar McBride.’ In disbelief he said, ‘are you guys really that tight?’ Why yes, yes we are that tight. It is the strength of the Notre Dame family.”
Do you want to learn more about Doc Griggs and his health and wellness movement? Check out his web site: http://docgriggs.com/
Dr. Eric Griggs graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1992 (and was a walk-on with the Fighting Irish football team) and Tulane University School of Medicine in 1996. Dr. Griggs is a native of Winston Salem, North Carolina and currently lives in New Orleans since completing medical school. Today, he is the CEO of RMDS Aesthetics & Med Spa and Research MDs Family Practice and Clinical Research Center in Mid-City New Orleans. Dr. Griggs is also the weekly Health Educator for the local FOX affiliate's "Morning Edition" in New Orleans, the host of “The Doctor Griggs” Radio show on WBOK 1230 AM and an internet show ," Health Talk with Doc Griggs" on New Orleans Talk Network (NOTN) - www.neworleanstalknetwork.com, both focusing on health, wellness and community. Dr. Griggs is active in the New Orleans community and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Southeast Region of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. In addition, he is the Chairman of the Board of Advisors for the Boys & Girls Clubs NFL-YET Center in New Orleans and Executive Board Member on Oscar McBride’s Fit 4 Life Youth Foundation. Dr. Griggs also co-founded and directs the Broadmoor Basketball Association, a basketball program for at-risk youth. He has made it his life work to educate the community. Dr. Griggs participates in several community engagement events, activities and speaks on various subjects such as preventative medicine and life skills.