November is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. You don’t have to grow whiskers like the Duck Dynasty men to participate. Just pat your brother on the back and encourage him to get screened.
I wish my father-in-law had taken action sooner. Instead, he let what could have been a simple matter turn into full –blown systemic cancer that spread even into his eyes.
Some people are more fortunate. Bryce Blanch was diagnosed with cancer purely by accident. “I was suffering from heat exhaustion and taken to the hospital,” he said. Several tests were conducted. The physicians and staff concluded that it was indeed heat sickness and possibly an anxiety attack. ”I had a follow-up with my doctor and she decided to order a PSA.” According to the National Cancer Institute, a PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) test measures the blood level of an antigen secreted by the epithelial cells of the prostate, a gland found only in men. The higher a man’s PSA level, the more likely it is that he has prostate cancer. At the time, Blanch was 47 years old and in relatively good health. “The PSA came back the next day and it was a 9.8 which is extremely high. I was fast tracked into an urologist where an exam and biopsy were performed.” Eight out of a dozen samples were positive for grade nine aggressive carcinoma. He had more tests to see if it had metastasized, which is an aggressive spreading to other body parts.
“I had a colonoscopy, several CT scans, a full body bone scan, ultrasound and then more CT scans. I was lucky it hadn't metastasized. I had surgery and had my prostate removed along with my lymph nodes and the nerves on one side.” The surgeons got all of the cancer by a negative margin of less than half of a millimeter. Blanch went on to say “I have been cancer free for exactly two years now. Had I not had the heat exhaustion I would not have ever known that I had cancer because I wasn't one to go to the doctor. It had been seven years since I had a checkup. I am now an ambassador for all colors of cancer. Every man over fifty needs to get screened. It only takes a couple of minutes but it can save a life. I am living proof. Don’t wait until you get symptoms because by the time you have symptoms it’s too late,” and by that point, the cancer most likely will be found far from its original starting point. Blanch added, “I no longer take life for granted and have taken up running. I run for those who can't. My motto is ‘ASPIRE TO INSPIRE!’ If even one person sees me running a race in my cancer shirt and gets inspired to get well or to get screened it will be worth every mile I have run. I should be dead but because of a simple test I am very much alive.”
(with Marie Swejkoski, Editor)