Prostate cancer is still taking too many lives.
Most men need a nudge in being proactive with their health care. We, as men, tend to have the attitude that unless something is really out of whack with our body, everything is OK, or if there is a problem, it will probably get better on its own. Unfortunately, this year marks 35 years since my father passed away due to metastatic prostate cancer at 57. Fortunately, this year I’m still here as a seven-year prostate cancer survivor at the age of 57. The difference between my father’s prostate cancer and mine was being proactive with health care and the advances in medicine and testing have greatly improved over the past 30 years.
I had the advantage over my father of a blood test called the PSA, Prostate-Specific Antigen. I started having the blood test every year along with my yearly physical starting at the age of 35. The PSA test should be combined along with a digital rectal exam to give you the best chance for determining if you may have a prostate-related issue.
Prostate cancer has varying forms of treatment depending on your age, health conditions and the stage of the cancer. The younger you are when diagnosed the more proactive you want to be with how you treat your cancer. An option could be surgery, radiation or active surveillance which is to watch and see if your cancer progresses. If you choose this option, don’t ignore your regularly scheduled visits. I have met many men over the past seven years with varying ages whose cancer has progressed and without treatment they might not be here today.
For most cases, this cancer is very treatable. If caught early, you will more than likely have less invasive medical procedures and follow-up treatments. If caught later, more extensive treatment may be required and you could have a longer recovery time and ongoing issues later down the road. So again, men, be proactive verses reactive with your health care.
It is so sad when someone ignores medical symptoms of a potential health problem or they knew they had something that was a potential problem and they chose to ignore it hoping that it would clear up on its own. We are about to enter Breast Cancer Awareness Month, or “Pink Month” as I like to call it. I have several friends who continue to battle breast cancer or those who have lost the battle. Most women are very open in regards to their health care and networking with each other when dealing with any disease. It is time for men to step up to the plate and see the benefits that women around us have by being open and talking about their health.
Even though we are at the end of September, which is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, that doesn’t mean that we can’t become proactive throughout the year. Women, you might have to give that man in your life a little nudge or maybe a hard push, but sometimes that may be what it takes to start the engine of personal health care.
November is becoming better known as Movember, where men do not shave their beards the entire month to raise awareness for men’s heath issues. On Nov. 10, the 2018 ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk is being held at CSUB. Please consider showing up or participating in the event. The event is open to all men, women and children. For more event information, visit www.zeroprostatecancerrun.org/bakersfield.
Men, I have lived five years longer than my father because of early prostate cancer treatment. Please join me in being proactive with your health care. Don’t become one of the 25,000-plus a year that are no longer with us. You have those around you who need and love you; be there for not only yourself but also for them.
Leonard Zasoski, Jr. is a seven-year prostate cancer survivor and advocate for men’s health. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.