WHY SUPPORT MOVEMBER?
Charitable causes. There are many good charities out there seeking donations of money, or gifts or volunteering time. They “hit us up” by email, on the phone or even during dinner time, walking through the neighbourhood knocking on doors to solicit.
How do you know which ones to support? Who should receive your donation and how much?
As a small business, we wrestle with this too. Over the years, we’ve been good corporate citizens by collecting money for The CBC Christmas Turkey Drive, the Edmonton Food Bank, Veterans, Wildlife, and most recently the Firefighters Ukrainian war effort. We provide silent auction gift baskets for events raising money, especially when the organizers also shop and support our business throughout the year. Currently, we have an in-store promotion to donate a dollar for every bottle of Rose wine sold in October for Breast Cancer Month.
This November, we have chosen a charity because the focus and awareness is on Men’s Health and specifically a disease that affected us personally. Our story has a positive outcome and we feel it’s important to share information so others can benefit from a positive situation too.
November has become Movember.
“ Movember fundraisers are a global community of fired up Mo Bros and Mo Sisters – aka rock stars making a difference in mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer. Your donation could help save a father, a brother, a son, a friend, a partner, a man’s life.”
So how has this touched us? Grant is sharing his story….
For many years, Grant has made it a point to have an annual physical check up with his Doctor around his birthday in May. He has always encouraged his male friends to do the same. He gets his heart checked, discusses any changes in his body, does a complete blood test panel and urinalysis. Apart from some occasional high cholesterol warnings, he’s strong and healthy.
In May 2021, he had his routine checkup and the doctor called to say he noticed that his PSA was a little high compared to the year before.
PSA? What’s that?
“The PSA test is a blood test used primarily to screen for prostate cancer. The test measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in your blood. PSA is a protein produced by both cancerous and noncancerous tissue in the prostate, a small gland that sits below the bladder in males. The PSA test can detect high levels of PSA that may indicate the presence of prostate cancer. However, many other conditions, such as an enlarged or inflamed prostate, also can increase PSA levels. Therefore, determining what a high PSA score means can be complicated. Prostate cancer is common, and it is a frequent cause of cancer death. Early detection may be an important tool in getting appropriate and timely treatment.” - The Mayo Clinic
As Grant went regularly for these tests, his Doctor was able to review previous ones and determined it was high enough to be somewhat concerned that it could be Prostate Cancer, so he was referred to an Oncologist. Always a scary referral for anyone to receive.
Prostate cancer is common, and it is a frequent cause of cancer death. Early detection is an important tool in getting appropriate and timely treatment.
In November 2021, he was sent for an MRI and biopsy. The results were positive for Prostate Cancer. Very early stages, but cancer just the same. We were both scared.
We met with the oncologist at The Cross Cancer Centre together to learn and understand what we faced and how best to deal with it based on the findings. Grant was given the option of surgery (full removal) and a long, uncomfortable recovery with potential life-long side effects like incontinence, erectile disfunction, etc. not to mention undergoing the risks associated with anesthetic and surgery. The other option he was given was a newer procedure, less invasive and recommended for men whose cancer has not spread outside the prostate called Brachytherapy- a type of radiation therapy used to treat cancer. It places radioactive sources inside the patient to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. There is no real downtime, no cutting, less side effects but is somewhat controversial. Very good outcomes have been achieved with this therapy for men with the localized cancer that Grant had. We asked for some testimonials from patients who had undergone this treatment, and Grant contacted them. He decided after more research and talking to the other men, that this was the choice he would make for himself.
In February 2022, I dropped him off at the Cross Cancer Centre for his brachytherapy which is a day procedure. He was prepped and placed under sedation where the specialist placed over 107 tiny radioactive pellets inside or next to the tumor in the prostate gland. The pellets give off radiation that destroys cancer cells. The treatment spares surrounding healthy tissue and organs. In the recovery room less than an hour later, he was told to relax and could go home after he was able to pass urine.
A little tired from stress of the day and a bit tender, we went home where he slept well and took it easy for a few days returning to work less than a week later. His surgeon said he would need another PSA test in 6 months to check progress.
August, six months after the procedure, Grant went in for a follow up with his GP, some blood tests and a phone consult with the Oncologist. We are delighted to report that his PSA levels have dropped substantially and that for all intents and purposes, he’s just fine! The oncologist will follow up in 2 years, but Grant will continue to have regular PSA blood tests every six months.
Other men we know have not had such great stories to tell after a diagnosis of Prostate cancer. It was caught too late, or had spread, or there was no proper follow up. Some of these men are still fighting the disease, living with incontinence, erectile issues and some are dying.
Grant’s message - Go to your Doctor. Get a PSA test. Don’t be afraid because you think the only way to check the prostate is with a digital probe. That’s now a fallacy and the initial test can be a blood test. Know your baseline, and if it’s normal, get it checked regularly, and if it’s elevated, seek proper care and follow up immediately for a good outcome. This is a curable cancer when caught early. The testing and new therapies being done are thanks to research and funding for causes like this one. Men are often shy or not bothered with seeing a doctor because they don’t want “the probe”. Please - get checked and follow up regularly. We’re lucky in Canada to be able to request such life saving tests like a simple blood test.
P - proactively make a Doctor appointment
S – schedule a simple blood test
A – always follow up and act upon it
PLEASE SUPPORT MOVEMBER- GROW A ‘STACHE & RAISE SOME CASH!
ALIGRA WILL HAVE A DONATION BOX AT OUR COUNTER WHERE YOU CAN CONTRIBUTE THROUGHOUT THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER.