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Two survivors of prostate cancer are urging men all around the community to do all they all can not to fall victim to the disease.
And in this case, Tony Carriss and Wade Hembree said, the prevention is simple: Just come out to the 13th annual Men’s Health Fair being held at Jewish Hospital Shelbyville from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday morning.
“One thing about the cancer, besides having many treatment options, is that it is also very slow growing,” said Hembree, an agent at State Farm. “I am fifty-six and was diagnosed with it shortly before my fifty-sixth birthday, and Dr. [Brooks] Jackson and Dr. [Nicholas] Meyers said that without treatment, in fifteen years, the prostate cancer would kill me. So there is a little time on your side. That’s where the health fair comes in. It’s free, and we encourage men with or without health insurance to participate. There is no cost and no co-pay.”
Carriss echoed the importance for men of obtaining screenings such as the health fair offers.
“There is no doubt in my mind that that PSA [prostate specific antigen] test made all the difference in my case,” he said.
Carriss, chair of the men’s health fair, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000, at the age of 45, about 20 years earlier than it strikes most men.
“ I had a great uncle that had it, so I guess it’s in my genes, so my son will be at the health fair. He’s thirty-three, and he will get checked early,” Carriss said.
Because his own experience has shown him that younger men are also susceptible, Carriss is urging men over 40 years old to be screening for prostate cancer.
“It’s just a simple blood test,” said Hembree, referring to a test that checks for elevated levels of PSA in the blood, a substance made by the prostate, with higher levels being an indication of prostate cancer.
The American Cancer Society reports that other than skin cancer, prostrate cancer is the most common cancer in American men, and is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among them, behind only lung cancer.
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2013 about 238,590 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed and that about 29,720 men will die of prostate cancer. About 1 man in 6 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point.
Carriss said that he expects that 250 to 300 men will receive about $1,400 worth of free testing. Attendance in the past several years has increased.
“I think it’s awesome for that many men to come out to get a health screening,” he said.
Besides urologists, the fair will also include a podiatrist, an ophthalmologist and other specialists offering screenings for cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, oral cancer and skin cancer.
In addition, Roll Forming Corporation, where Carriss is employed, will be giving away a 42-inch flat-screen television to someone who gets tested at the health fair, and everyone who gets tested will get a coupon for a free lunch.
Saturday’s health fair is the second year that a car and motorcycle show will be included in the activities, and that event will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church, located next to the hospital.
Hembree, who is doing well after his surgery, urges men to attend, because prostate cancer often has no symptoms, and if they do have the disease, he said, they should keep in mind the earlier it’s detected, the greater their chances for survival.
“Since the surgery, my PSA reading is zero,” he said. “I am now trying to reach out to the African-American community, because their incidence of prostate cancer is higher than the regular population. I’ll say this, modern medicine is so amazing these days, there’s no reason not to identify potential problems and have them treated. It’s important to your family and your loved ones to stay healthy and vibrant and live a long life.”
Men’s Health Fair
WHAT:Various free health screenings for men
WHEN:8 a.m. to noon, Saturday
WHERE:Jewish Hospital Shelbyville, 727 Hospital Drive
TO REGISTER FOR SCREENING:Call 502-647-4341
ALSO:A motorcycle/car show will be at First Baptist Church Shelbyville, from 10 a.m. to noon.