Wolf in sheep’s clothing
Eddy van Heel, who was a nurse within the biggest healthcare institutions in the Netherlands, can remember the victims of these ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ tumors all too well. “A man that coughed up blood, but whose lungpictures didn’t show anything malicious. A CT-scan did not seem necessary because of that. Two years later he was standing in front of me again. This time with fully metastatic cancer, without chance of a cure. The poor man was only 55 years old. A tragic story”
In his own circle Eddy also experienced that friends were not referred on time or that, under pressure of health insurance companies, cheaper examinations were first carried out, which made diagnoses incorrect or too late. His later business companion Jan Zantige, with whom he in 2002 founded Prescan, in a short amount of time lost his father, father in law and a good friend to cancer that was diagnosed too late. “Frustrating was that some of them had the feeling that there was something wrong inside their body beforehand. Despite that, none of them were provided an opportunity to have a general health check”, says Eddy.
The two found this absurd and were determined to do something about the late diagnoses of possible risks themselves . Eddy: “an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, where an American provider of total body scans came to te floor offered a solution. I remember thinking: “Those preventative check-ups should be possible in the Netherlands as well At any moment, without being hindered by a stiff system where finances are the deciding factor.” With that, the idea of Prescan was founded.”
Through conversations with a big Dutch health care institute Eddy and Jan got in contact with with a number of qualitative reputable hospitals just across the border in Germany. These hospitals shared the vision of prevention and early diagnosis and the plans for Prescan were forged. In January 2003 the first clinic opened her doors. “From then on Prescan built themselves to where we are now: world-wide market leader In the field of bodyscans with almost 110.000 examinated patients.”
Among them, Eddy himself, who might even be the best example of the fact that preventative examination can be useful. A scan saved my life twice already. “The first time I let myself get examined thoroughly, I was found to suffer from kidney failure. A disease that my doctors, despite repeated research, had overlooked. Since then I have received a donor kidney. The old kidneys were left behind. I have always had the premonition that problems could arise there.” Rightly so, as it turned out last July when he did a check-up. “The last time I got a check-up was one and a half year ago. So I did not expect any problems. But what do you know: a tumor of 2,5 centimetres had grown on one of the old kidneys. As big as a pingpongball. I shouldn’t have been a lot later, because then it could’ve been outgrown and metastasized with all its consequences.”
Eddy has since been operated. According to the doctors for the best, because the tumor seemed very malicious. “Our initiative saved my life back then. Without it I probably wouldn’t have gotten older than 46 years. An additional fortune as well was, because I discovered it early on, I could go back to work after two weeks already. I would’ve never been able to do that if the tumor had proliferated and I would’ve needed chemotherapy.”
Eddy keeps saying: preventative examination only has benefits. “Anyone that puts about 25 euros per month in their savings, could get themselves checked from head to toe at the end of the year. With that you cannot prevent everything. But you do map the largest risks to adjust your lifesyle accordingly in an earlier stage, which can help you reach not 70, but 90 years old. Getting older while staying healthy. That is the approach.”