Prostate cancer awareness encourages men to man up

By William K. Alcorn


The Movember and Manup Mahoning Valley movements are starting to increase awareness of prostate cancer in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

“I’m encouraged by the results, but we are still taking baby steps. We need to continue to make strides,” said Warren Atty. Patrick K. Wilson, who, along with John Repula, head of sales at Klaben Lincoln Ford in Warren, are the prime movers behind getting the local Movember movement.

This year, Movember joined forces with Manup Mahoning Valley and the Humility of Mary Health Partners Foundation, which sponsored the 2012 Blue Ribbon Run for Prostate Cancer Awareness 5K/10K race/walk along with Wilson’s law firm, Harrington Hoppe & Mitchell Ltd.

The number of race/walk participants doubled to 550 this year, and the event raised $23,000, said Jonathon Fauvie, director of the HMHP Foundation.

Movember is an international movement that encourages men to grow facial hair as a talking point to raise awareness of prostate and testicular cancer. Manup Mahoning Valley is a local organization with the mission of saving lives by educating men about prostate cancer and the importance of annual prostate screening in men over 40.

Sam and Pamela McVay of Champion learned about Movember through a Vindicator story.

“One day the McVays stopped in the dealership and asked me what they could do to help. I was really touched and encouraged by that,” Repula said.

“I think the Movember/Manup movements are great. We’ve got to start somewhere,” Pam said.

Sam, a service technician for CenturyLink Phone Service in Warren, was 60 when a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test detected slightly elevated antigen numbers last April.

Elevated levels of prostate-specific antigen, a substance produced by the prostate gland, may indicate prostate cancer or other conditions. Most men have PSA levels under 4, over which is reason for concern about prostate cancer.

Sam’s urologist prescribed two rounds of antibiotics to bring his PSA level down, but the numbers went back up. A biopsy came back positive just before his 61st birthday in September. Sam is undergoing radiation treatment.

“I screamed when we were told Sam had cancer. This came out of nowhere. I was scared to death. I could cry right now,” said Pam in a telephone interview.

But because of early detection by the PSA test, Sam’s cancer was limited to his prostate.

“We don’t want to talk about this, but if talking about it will get one guy off his butt to get examined, it is worth it,” Pam said. “When my husband was diagnosed he had no symptoms whatsoever. I don’t want men to wait until they have symptoms and the cancer has spread. The answer is an annual physical.”

Repula and Wilson have discovered that social media is a good way to get their message to more people.

And also this year, Repula got three other auto dealerships involved in Movember — Apostolakis Honda and Mark Thomas Ford, both in Cortland, and Toyota of Warren — and he wants to recruit more next year.

Repula, with the help of his girlfriend, Sheryl Kroynovich of Youngstown, also got the women and the lone man at the West Side Merchants Bureau of Motor Vehicles Deputy Registrar office, 2950 Mahoning Ave., to bring attention to Movember by wearing fake mustaches.

While wearing a mustache is a humorous, and for some a little uncomfortable, way of joining the fight, there was also a serious side for the women.

Office manager Lynda Wauschek’s husband, Dale, had prostate cancer surgery several years ago and it has now spread to his bones. “His cancer is in remission, but we need some type of awareness,” said Wauschek, of Boardman.

“Wearing the mustache was for a good cause. Anything that helps other people is worth doing,” said June Penick of North Lima.

“I’m for anything that helps with any kind of cancer,” said Kim Smith of Youngstown, who lost her parents to the disease.

“I absolutely plan to continue with Movember and Manup Mahoning Valley. There is so much more work to be done to make men aware of what they have to do. I feel like I dodged a bullet, and I want to help others down the road,” said Wilson, 49, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer in December 2009.

Prostate cancer has devastated Wilson’s family.

His father, Thomas, died of prostate cancer in May 1996, and his father-in-law, Dr. Jerome Stanislaw, died of prostate cancer in July 1997. One of Wilson’s brothers was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008 and another brother was diagnosed with testicular cancer in his 20s.

“I look at my son Liam. He’s 9. We have to figure out a more-comprehensive treatment for prostate cancer,” Wilson said.

Repula and Wilson will get their wish for more local attention for prostate cancer in 2013.

The HMHP Foundation, which has focused on breast cancer awareness and screening for the last couple of years, will next year concentrate on prostate cancer, the No. 1 diagnosed cancer in the Mahoning Valley, Fauvie said.

“Humility of Mary Health Partners’ mission is to provide health care for the underserved, and my personal goal is to bring prostate cancer to light,” he said.

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