Macho men are idiots, says Josette Toulme.
“I think it’s stupid for men to say they are powerful and won’t ever get sick,” says Toulme, known around Tampa’s Caribbean community for pushing men of all ages to visit the doctor.
For more than a decade, she and her husband, Tony, have volunteered at the annual Men’s Health Forum, being held this year on March 17. The couple know the daylong event at the University of South Florida may be the only health assessment some men get all year.
Adult, minority men without health insurance are the event’s primary target. Sponsors, including the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, offer freebies such as breakfast and lunch to attract participants. Toulme, 70, uses good old-fashioned guilt, encouraging wives and children to drag their men to the event.
“They are getting better, but we always will have to go after the younger ones,” says Toulme, who with her husband serves as a translator to men who speak Spanish, French or Haitian Creole.
The forum offers men the chance to get blood pressure, cholesterol, vision, skin cancer, lung function and memory screenings all in one place. Testing for hepatitis and sexually transmitted diseases also will be available. And vouchers for free prostate exams will be distributed to men who qualify.
Toulme doesn’t apologize for her persistence. Wives, children and friends shouldn’t let stubborn men avoid caring about their health, she says. “I’ve lost too many friends.”