‘Awareness Musicale’ supports prostate cancer research and awareness

  • Oct. 5, 2016 3:34 p.m.

A concert presented by the Central Alberta Prostate Awareness & Support Group is slated for Oct. 14th at Festival Hall.

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

Tickets ($20 each) are available by calling 403-391-9022, or they can be purchased at 53rd Street Music.

“We have some really talented people in our group who have survived prostate cancer,” said Bert Lougheed, one of the event’s organizers, of several of the guys slated to perform. “We also have Visions Country Gospel which is wonderful – Visions supports us and they have for years.

“So it will be a really good program.”

The Red Deer Prostate Cancer Support Group (Prostate Cancer Canada Network – local chapter) has been lending a supportive hand for many years now.

“We have two goals with our group – the number one goal is to raise awareness,” he said, adding they also aim to raise funds for prostate cancer research and support for those fighting it via the Awareness Musicale.

“An awful lot of guys still don’t understand much about prostate cancer,” he said, adding that over the years, however, awareness has increased through initiatives like the global fundraising event dubbed ‘Movember’.

“Our goal is also to support guys who have been diagnosed – to help them out,” he said. “It’s a pretty tough thing when you go in and see the doctor and he says, ‘Well, your tests are positive – you have prostate cancer,’” he said.

Back in the late 1990s, Lougheed was himself diagnosed with prostate cancer.

“I was diagnosed in 1998. But two years before that, they did notice a bump on my prostate, but my PSA was not high. So they just watched it for two years.”

Eventually, a biopsy was done and cancer cells were found. “I was told that, and at that time – the fall of 1998 – I really only had two choices. Major surgery – a radical prostectomy and radiation. Or there was a new thing that had just come out called brachytherapy.”

Brachytherapy delivers radiation internally.

Low-dose seed implant brachytherapy is usually recommended to men with lower grade cancers that are contained within the prostate gland. Between 80 and 100 radioactive seeds are implanted into the prostate.

Each seed releases low-energy level radiation steadily over several months.

This is the route Lougheed chose to go. “I think I had about 98 of those little radioactive seeds put in,” he said. “They will only do brachytherapy if they are pretty sure they are catching it early. If your PSA is over such-and-such, they won’t do it – there are other treatments.”

For Lougheed, who is now 80, things have turned out well. “Every year I have a PSA test, and it’s staying right where it’s supposed to be.”

As for the support group, it was first launched by Bill Martynes and Mike Eckenswiller about 19 years ago, with help from Marg Scheyen of the Canadian Cancer Society.

“I came in on that group about a year after it got started,” said Lougheed, adding currently about five of the men coordinate the group’s events and meetings at Gaetz United Church. “We meet on the third Thursday of every month, and we meet during July and August as well because cancer never takes a rest.”

The group is 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.

“We say to the new guys, you are welcome to just listen. You can ask anybody any questions that you like or you can just listen – you don’t have to tell us a thing,” he said, adding most men opt to share their stories right off the bat. “It’s totally open.” Wives and partners of the men are also welcome at the meetings. About every third meeting, the women meet in a separate room to discuss things that might not otherwise come up in the regular meetings.

The men also have a coffee group that meets every Wednesday at 10 a.m. in the restaurant at the Black Knight Inn.

Anyone interested in more information about the group can contact Bert at 403-343-3808 or Bill at 403-342-0694.