By Greg Price
When talking about the prostate, that is often not something men want involved in the conversation.
But that does not mean the importance of prostate health will go away. One in seven men in Alberta will be affected by prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the leading cancer in Alberta men. Approximately 2,600 men will be diagnosed annually with prostate cancer and eight men will die from it every week.
That is where the Prostate Cancer Centre Man Van comes in and will be making its appearance at Cornfest to help men with their prostate health needs, giving free PSA blood tests to men over 40.
The PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test is a simple blood test that helps in the early detection of prostate cancer. PSA is a protein produced by the prostate and released in small amounts to the bloodstream. The amount of PSA in the bloodstream can often predict a man’s risk of prostate cancer.
The Man Van has been in existence since 2009 with one van focused around Calgary and then in 2012, a second van was bought to focus on communities throughout rural southern Alberta which is the one that will be in Taber for Cornfest.
The brainchild of urologist Dr. Bryan Donnely, he saw a need for the awareness tool. The Man Van is Canada’s first and only mobile men’s health clinic. To date, 34,000 men have been tested for prostate cancer through the Man Van.
“People were not getting the PSA test done and prostate disease is a very treatable disease if it’s caught early. Using tools like PSA, we can catch the cancer in the early stages,” said Ken Rabb, program manager for Man Van. “The reason we have the only program like it in Canada is because we have that urologist backing it through the Southern Alberta Institute for Urology.”
There is still the stigma floating around of testing for prostate cancer being overly invasive, something not favourable to the machismo of men who have a hard time going to the doctor in the first place.
“When people talk about a prostate exam, your brain fills with an image of a doctor with big hands putting on those latex gloves. One of the things we tell people is it’s a blood test, not a glove test,” said Rabb. “We think they are both important, but guys are notoriously bad for not going to the doctor and so let’s take some baby steps and start with the blood test. It’s only really a half teaspoon of blood. It’s not too invasive at all. From start to finish, it’s about 10 minutes.”
People meet with a host who is a volunteer who is usually a survivor of prostate cancer themselves to share their own story to tell of the importance of getting your prostate checked regularly.
“They are out there singing our praises and telling guys to come into the van and make them feel comfortable,” said Rabb. “I know men tend to avoid the doctor and I’m no different than any other guy. I wasn’t the best for going to the doctor, but when I started here I saw how big of a difference we could make keeping this program going.”
Situated beside the ever popular Corn Country Cruisers Show and Shine among men on Cornfest Saturday, it helps with exposure for the Man Van.
“The guys are there already and Taber has been a big supporter of ours,” said Rabb, adding there were over 60 guys tested last year, bringing it up to 189 men who have been tested in Taber with the Man Van since it made its first appearance back in 2014 at Cornfest.
The Prostate Cancer Centre Man Van will be in Taber on Cornfest Saturday (Aug. 26) from 12-4 p.m. and will be situated at the Show and Shine, downtown.
The Prostate Cancer Centre is a non-profit organization established in 1999 and focused on the early detection and treatment of prostate cancer and prostate related disease. It supports excellence in prostate cancer awareness, education, diagnosis, treatment, advocacy and research with the ultimate goal of eliminating advanced prostate cancer.
For more information on the Man Van, you can contact Ken Rabb at 403-943-8952 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Man Van receives no government funding and exists solely on the generosity of its supporters. Those who wish to donate can do so by logging onto http://www.prostatecancercentre.ca and search for the Man Van under the various headings.