Once upon a time, there lived a quiet, gentle man. He was kind, loving, hardworking – and a huge Wayne Gretzky fan. He was my mom’s father and her best friend. And he loved his grandchildren with his whole, big heart. I have many fond memories of my grandfather. Lifting my baby cousin in the air and blowing on her belly, making her smile. Buying me my first lipstick. Glued to the TV during an Oilers game. This clicking sound he did with his tongue that meant, ‘no’. His gruff voice. Stubbly chin. His eyes that crinkled when he smiled. I wish I had had many more years with him, but I didn’t, because prostate cancer took his life when he was 77 years old.
What I’ve Learned About Prostate Cancer
- Prostate Cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in Canadian men (behind lung cancer).
- Prostate Cancer afflicts men 45 years of age and older, with the incidence increasing with age. Men with a family history of Prostate Cancer are at increased risk so these examinations and tests should begin at age 40.
- Prostate Cancer has no known causes or prevention.
- Detection and treatment in its earliest stages (while it is still small and confined to the prostate) provides the best chance for a complete cure.
I was 12 when he died and, to be honest, I thought he was old. So, although it was really sad and a shock (the cancer was not detected until it was in the late stages), I assumed he had lived a long life. Now I know that 77 is young. I think of what I want to be doing at that age and there’s still a fair bit of life I’d like to live after that. Everyone else he left behind was young, too. Cancer doesn’t just take away the one life, but forever changes the ones left behind. What if my grandpa’s was detected sooner? What if my youngest cousin, who giggled as an infant at his antics, could have collected some actual memories of him? What if his children could have enjoyed their father for many more years? And my grandma could have had his companionship that much longer?
What if there was something men could do to keep on top of their prostate health? And something the rest of us can do to support them? There is! A check-up for the guys once a year starting from the age of 45 should be part of their normal healthcare regime, unless there is also a history of prostate cancer in the family. Then it’s recommended that check-ups start at age 40. From talking to some men in my life, I know that this is not a comfortable topic and there is some fear and discomfort around the actual procedure. But it’s quick and potentially life-saving! So, ladies, if your men are hesitating, remind them why you need them to get checked. This really does affect the whole family.
As another show of support, on Father’s Day, June 18th, the Raymond James Walk/Run for Prostate Cancer is taking place at Burnaby Lake with a start time of 10 am (9:30 for tots!). It promises to be a full, festive day with a free barbeque lunch, prizes, onstage entertainment and more. It really sounds like a great, family-friendly day to celebrate your dad or your husband or your brother. This event is also taking place across B.C. in Victoria, Chilliwack, Kelowna and Kamloops. You can register for the one closest to you!
Sometimes the ‘what ifs’ are hard to swallow, and sometimes we have to accept that things are meant to happen. But I’m spreading the word just in case this helps another family enjoy decades more love from a very special man in their lives.
For more information, please visit prostatecancerbc.ca.