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Image Gary Swan compressed 2“If I hadn’t had my PSA tested last year at Country Grocer Men’s Health Day, I don’t know what might have happened to me”, says Gary Swan, of his decision to attend Island Prostate Centre’s Men’s Health Day sponsored by Country Grocer in September of 2015.

Gary, who is 58 years old, has always taken care of himself; he can be found at the gym several times a week and has been proactive about disease prevention. He had his PSA tested regularly, especially since his father and uncle have both had prostate cancer. Still, when a friend from his gym reminded Gary about Country Grocer Men’s Health Day, he put it on his calendar to have his PSA levels tested again.

Gary’s test results showed an increase in his PSA levels so he immediately scheduled an appointment with his GP for follow up.

Gary’s GP administered a Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) and was able to feel that a distinctive lump had developed on his prostate gland. An immediate referral to a urologist meant a biopsy was scheduled within the month. When Gary got the call 8 days later that all of the 12 samples tested positive for prostate cancer, he remembers the moment being “like a wall coming down in front of me so hard, I had to step back”. This was a lot for Gary to process.

When he began to reach out to his support network, he was shocked by some of their replies: “Oh, you’ll never die from prostate cancer”, “If you’re going to get cancer, that’s the one to get”, or, “You’ll be fine”. Gary sure hoped he was going to be fine, but after hearing comments like these, he stopped talking about his diagnosis and kept it to himself. Like many men who are newly diagnosed with prostate cancer, he was filled with anxiety and apprehension. What Gary needed to hear was, “I’m here for you” from the people in his life. One of the most powerful messages he got was text from a friend that simply said “thinking about ya”.

After visiting Island Prostate Centre for a one-on-one private information session with our Registered Nurse, Gary elected for a nerve sparing prostatectomy (full removal of the prostate). Eight weeks to the day of the surgery, Gary got the good news from his urologist – the surgery was a success. His PSA level had gone from 5.4 to 0.008. With three grandchildren and two more on the way, this was the best possible news Gary could have received. Going forward, Gary will be closely monitored every three months for 2 years. Island Prostate Centre will continue to be here for Gary, with programs that offer support, information and further education on prostate health.

Back at the gym, Gary continues to be proactive about his health and lifestyle choices and is ready to start talking again. If Gary could share three things that he has learned from his prostate cancer journey, it would be these:
1) Be pro-active with your health. Exercise, eat well, and manage your stress.
2) Know your history and get your baseline PSA levels tested starting age 40.
3) Know the early signs of prostate cancer.

And guys, MEN DO DIE FROM PROSTATE CANCER – in Canada, over 4000 men die every year. Of the one in eight (1/8) BC men who will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year, an estimated 600 will lose their lives to this disease. With early diagnosis, up to 90% of prostate cancer can be treated.

Please, consider attending Country Grocer Men’s Health Day. Know your PSA levels.  Click here for complete event information.

Have you been diagnosed with prostate cancer? Call Island Prostate Centre – we can help. All of our programs and services are free – no referral is necessary.