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Behind the Headlines-15

Us TOO FLORENCE - BEHIND THE HEADLINES
BY BOB HORNEY - PROSTATE CANCER SURVIVOR - Us TOO FLORENCE CHAPTER LEADER
(Published October 8, 2014, The Siuslaw News)

This month I am delighted to feature a guest column by local businesswoman, Cindy Wobbe. Her message is from the heart of a daughter who lost her father to prostate cancer and is one that every man should read.

Cindy's Story

At a recent city council meeting, Mayor Nola Xavier proclaimed September as National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. You may have missed it, but a few weeks earlier our nation's president did the same. While I truly appreciate our leaders' willingness to bring awareness to this silent killer, I am painfully aware that "official proclamations" frequently fall on deaf ears, particularly if the subject is unpleasant and something you don't want to talk about.
Let me tell you why this is important and personal to me...in 1999, my beloved dad Dave Brent died of prostate cancer. He was 62. There hasn't been a day since then that I haven't missed his presence, his wisdom and counsel, his sense of humor, his objectivity, his unconditional love and unfailing support, and his amazing French toast breakfasts.
My dad had a strong family history of prostate cancer. And he had symptoms for years. But for reasons I'm sure he thought were perfectly justifiable, he didn't see a doctor, despite the fact that we pleaded with him to do so. He was a big, proud, manly kind of guy, but pride and "manliness" cost my dad his life and brought unspeakable loss and grief to my family. (If you would like to know more about my amazing dad and the impact he had on my life, you can read more here http://cindywobbe.com/2013/01/25/one-last-gift/.)
I share this with you because one in six men are affected by prostate cancer in this country alone. Yikes! This makes it the most common cancer in America after skin cancer. This year, an estimated 238,000 men will be diagnosed - many with almost no symptoms - and more than 30,000 will lose their lives to it. My dad was one of them.
If detected early, the cure rate for prostate cancer is almost 100%. WOW!!! This means that most men who are diagnosed at an early stage will be disease-free after 5 years. These shocking statistics reiterate the importance of getting screened and being proactive (I personally believe that every man over the age of 40 should be screened annually.) What men and women should be most aware of this month is that "the silent killer" doesn't have to kill. Preventative care is the easiest way to save your life.
Here are 4 key things my dad didn't know:
#1: Genetics ... Men with a father or brother with prostate cancer are twice as likely to develop the disease; having 3 or more relatives with prostate cancer makes a diagnosis almost certain. (Both my grandpa and my uncle had prostate cancer, so the odds were stacked against Dad.)
#2: Lifestyle ... Staying healthy doesn't have to be hard. We can ALL do better at eating right and exercise. While diet won't necessarily prevent prostate cancer, eating right can improve your overall health and lower your risk for disease.
#3: SCREEN annually ... Men have a huge reluctance to see a doctor about anything. Annual physicals are an inconvenience to them. But waiting for symptoms doesn't work with prostate cancer. It is imperative for men to get annual PSA blood tests as well as Digital Rectal Exams as part of their annual routine. Both these test are quick and painless. Really!
#4: TREAT aggressively ... With a prostate cancer diagnosis comes important treatment decisions. Talk to your doctor and do your homework to find the best treatment option for you. You aren't alone - contact Us TOO Florence. You can find out more here http://ustooflorence.org/.
It is important to note that prostate cancer is not the only disease that can affect the prostate. Symptoms like frequency or difficulty urinating, weak or interrupted urine flow, pain with urination or ejaculation, erection difficulty and blood in urine or semen are issues that should be mentioned to your physician. Please don't dismiss them as minor or too embarrassing to discuss.
If you are a man or if you KNOW a man who thinks that prostate cancer is something that happens to OTHER guys, if you think you don't have time to make an doctor's appointment, or if (like my dad) you just want to ignore the elephant in the room in hopes that it will go away, I beg you to think again. If you are unable to afford, for whatever the reason, the cost of prostate cancer screening, please contact me privately. I will help.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and allowing me to share something so important and personal to me and my family. More importantly, thank you for DOING something about it ... like sending this message to your friends, nagging your husband or brother, or picking up the phone and making an appointment.

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