One in six men will be afflicted by prostate cancer some time in their lives, making it important for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month to be acknowledged.
City of Medicine Hat Mayor Linnsie Clark will sign a declaration on Thursday, and Mayor of Redcliff Dwight Kilpatrick will sign one on Friday.
“The group started a long time ago but has been more active in the past six years,” said Philip Buisseret, chairman of the Medicine Hat and Area Prostate Cancer Support Society.
Currently, there are 55 survivors in the group, which started with four members and continued to grow. They meet once a month to support each other by sharing stories and experiences.
While September as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is a national campaign, each group adds local touches. In Medicine Hat, the Saamis Tepee will be lit up in the colour blue for five days.
The group works closely with Dr. Talal Alphin, the only urologist in Medicine Hat, by supplying him with kits. Each man who is diagnosed with prostate cancer receives a kit, which is full of information. Since they were created, 150 of the kits have been given out by Dr. Alphin.
The information for the group is in the kit and anyone who is diagnosed can get in touch.
“We’ve had guys tell us they’d rather do this on their own, and that’s fine. The majority are glad to get some help, especially if they come to us before they’ve had their treatments. It lessens their worry about it,” said Buisseret.
“The best way to find out if you have prostate cancer is through a simple blood test. It’s a good idea for any man over 45 years to get a PSA blood test every year. It’s pretty much how all of us in the group found out we had prostate cancer.”
The test measures the amount of prostate specific antigen in the blood, which is produced by both cancerous and noncancerous tissue. Buisseret explained that men should request the blood test, as he did after his brother, who is a physician, told him about it.
“It was a good thing, because it was only a couple of years later my PSA number started to go up and sure enough, I had prostate cancer,” he said, adding the earlier it is detected, the better.
Buisseret encourages anyone who’s had a prostate experience to join the group.
“Even if they’ve recovered, they can still help those who are coming through or having a surgery or treatment that isn’t very common.”
SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News