‘Awareness Musicale’ supports prostate cancer research and awareness

Red Deer Prostate Cancer Support Group has been lending a helping hand for many years

A concert presented by the Central Alberta Prostate Awareness & Support Group is slated for Sept. 28th at Festival Hall.

Awareness Musicale begins at 7 p.m. and will feature performances by Ray Baird, Maurice Paul, Gordon Ross, Lawrence Heck and Visions Country Gospel. There will also be a silent auction.

Tickets can be purchased at 53rd Street Music and the funds raised go to support prostate cancer research.

“In 2013, I was in for some routine blood work,” recalls Paul, who will be performing at the event and is a member of the support group.

“My doctors said that my PSA level was higher then it had been, and it’s always been monitored since I was about 40 or so. He said that we had better get that checked.”

So Paul was sent to a local urologist who ultimately made that diagnosis through a biopsy.

“It was advancing fairly rapidly,” he said. “By the time the biopsy was done, my PSA was at 20, and it should be under five.

“It’s really, really scary — the diagnosis of, ‘You have cancer’ makes you think it’s a death sentence,” he recalls of his first feelings on learning the news. Fortunately, almost right away he learned of the Central Alberta Prostate Awareness & Support Group and he knew he had to check it out.

“It mentioned that there was a monthly meeting at Gaetz United Church on the third Thursday of the month, and that was two days from then. There couldn’t have been better timing then that.”

Paul said meeting others on similar journeys was empowering and comforting.

“It was really enlightening to see that there were so many people who have been diagnosed with similar cases and they are coping. I’ve been a strong advocate for cancer support groups ever since.”

For his own treatment, doctors opted for a series of radiation treatments in Red Deer. Today, things are under control and his PSA readings are in normal ranges. “There is no sign of any cancer.”

According to Prostate Cancer Canada, one in seven Canadian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer within their lifetimes.

In 2017, an estimated 21,300 men were diagnosed, with 4,100 losing their lives to the disease as well. Prostate cancer is also the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Canadian men.

Meanwhile, support group meetings here in Red Deer run the third Thursday of every month from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Gaetz Memorial United Church (4758 Ross Street).

The group was first launched by Bill Martynes and Mike Eckenswiller more than 20 years ago, with help from Marg Scheyen of the Canadian Cancer Society.

It serves as an informal get-together, where men share stories about their experiences with prostate cancer. The meetings are open to anyone who is interested, and there is no expectation of commitment.

The wives or partners of the guys involved are welcome to come to all or any of the meetings. About every third meeting, they also arrange for the ladies to meet in a separate room so that they can discuss things that they might otherwise not feel free to bring up.

For those who are interested, they also have a ‘coffee group’ that meets every Wednesday at 10 a.m. in the back corner of the restaurant at the Black Knight Inn.

The guys meet informally for about an hour and have a great time of fellowship.

For Paul, it’s been fulfilling being able to share his story with others, and to also encourage them to check out the support group where there is such tremendous help available.

“I usually relate my story, and talk about the meetings. I’ll say that I have found a whole lot of comfort there, and that others would, too.”

For further information about Awareness Musicale, call Bill at 403-342-6257 or Ray at 403-343-7332.

The Central Alberta Prostate Awareness & Support Group is also connected to the Prostate Cancer Canada Network.

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