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Car show revs up awareness of prostate cancer

By SEAN BARRON

Correspondent

AUSTINTOWN — A routine physical exam followed by a series of proactive moves kicked Terry Baker’s recovery from cancer into high gear.

“I went to my doctor for my yearly physical, but my number was elevated, so he sent me to a urologist,” the 65-year-old Champion man said in outlining the first indication that he had prostate cancer.

Baker was diagnosed in 2016 after results from a prostate specific antigen test that measured the numerical reading. He also was among the nearly 100 car enthusiasts who took part in a Fuel the Fight Mega Car Show on Sunday at Austintown Intermediate School on Idaho Road.

Proceeds are to benefit ManUp Mahoning Valley, an organization funded by and under the umbrella of the Mercy Health Foundation that encourages men age 40 and older to be checked and undergo annual screenings for prostate cancer. It also seeks to educate Mahoning Valley men on the importance of early detection for the highly treatable and curable disease, noted Samantha Rivalsky, ManUp’s community-outreach liaison.

An estimated 1 in 6  men in the region are diagnosed with prostate cancer, which is above the state average, mainly because many of them are underinsured or have a lack of education regarding the disease, she said.

About six months after his diagnosis, Baker found himself at St. Joseph Warren Hospital because of difficulties with urination, which caused severe pain. From there, a biopsy revealed his prostate “was completely full of cancer,” he recalled.

In January 2017, Baker underwent surgery, followed by about seven weeks of radiation to get rid of a remaining cancerous speck, he continued.

“The best thing to do is to get your PSA (prostate specific antigen) checked like your doctor tells you to,” he advised.

Baker shared his story while next to his deep-blue 1972 Chevrolet Malibu, which he’s owned for about 25 years. The two-door classic car has about 66,600 miles, 15-inch tires he added, a new roof and a 383 Stroker engine, which is more typically found in hot rods.

“I was not out playing sports. I was always under the hood of a car when I was a kid,” recalled Baker, who came with his wife, Patty.

A sample of the nearly 100 classic, vintage and new vehicles included a blue 1978 Volkswagen Super Beetle with colorful flower prints on the driver’s- and passenger-side doors, a red 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air four-seater with a clock and an AM radio, a two-door butterscotch-colored 1979 Dodge Aspen, a black 1932 two-seat Ford Coupe with a low roof and numerous newer Corvette models courtesy of the 57-year-old Mahoning Valley Corvette Club.

The car show wasn’t exactly devoid of humor, as several spectators gathered around a 1949 Dodge Wayfarer, on both sides of which were paintings of a bikini-clad woman on a warhead with the caption “Weapons of mass distraction.”

Frankie Lea Sr. came from his Riceville, Tenn., home to enter his yellow 2004 Road Hawk Trike motorcycle, which also sported green and orange cactus stripes.

“It’s 12 ¢ feet long and has a motor that’s 2,333 cc’s [cubic centimeters], which is bigger than most Harley motors,” explained Lea, whose mother died in 2010 from lung cancer.

Lea also took pride in civilian work he performed as a safety officer and health, safety and environment inspector for numerous government entities, such as the Department of Defense, the Army, the State Department and the World Bank.

As a result of his work, which also included helping to get a law changed regarding the recognition of civilians doing military-related duties, Lea was the first nonmilitary person in Tennessee to have Iraq veteran tags affixed to his license plate. The plate is on the front of his motorcycle.

Like Rivalsky, Lea advocates getting tested early for prostate cancer, a passion he feels largely because of having lost his mother.

Those who took advantage of the free prostate screenings during the car show should get their confidential results in the mail in about two weeks. Participants who do not receive them by then are asked to call 330-480-3405, Mercy Health officials said.

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