City man Ray Baird knows what it’s like to receive devastating news that can turn a person’s world completely upside down.
Back in 1997, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer during a routine physical. He recalls not experiencing distinct symptoms that there was anything wrong.
But a PSA blood test showed there was a definite problem, and he was soon diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. “I was devastated, because it was so high,” he recalls of his initial feelings of the test results. Then came a series of consultations with oncologists and urologists, who told him they couldn’t really do a lot for him at that point. Surgery wasn’t an option as the cancer was too far gone.
“Radiation was my only option.” Even with those 39 treatments, Baird said the doctors predicted the cancer would be back within six months to a year.
So he began the radiation treatments, and also eventually chose to adopt a very healthy, holistic approach to his lifestyle in terms of eating and adding supplements to his diet. “I changed my diet and lifestyle completely. I started taking acupuncture, doing Tai Chi and doing meditation.”
It all turned out to wield powerful healing effects.
“It’s been 17 years now.” Baird looks terrific, and nowhere near his age of 80. “I feel great.
“Holistic means to nurture and nourish your body, your mind, your soul and your spirit. You have to put it all together. I eat pretty much anything as long as it’s wholesome food – no processed foods.” All kinds of fruits, vegetables and more moderate portions overall are also part of his approach to diet.
He added that overall, doctors say that his well-being is just one of those healing miracles that come along once in a while. PSA tests continue to show good results, he said.
According to the Movember web site, prostate cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer in Canadian men. An estimated 4,000 men will die from prostate cancer in 2014, accounting for 10% of all cancer deaths in men. One in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, and the risk of being diagnosed increases with age.
Prostate cancer occurs when some of the cells in the prostate reproduce far more rapidly than normal, resulting in a tumor. If left untreated, prostate cancer cells may eventually spread from the prostate and invade distant parts of the body, particularly the lymph nodes and bones, producing secondary tumours in a process known as metastasis.
One of the most worrying aspects of the disease is that most prostate cancers develop without men experiencing any symptoms in the early stages
Meanwhile, for those struggling with the disease, there is a group of men here in Red Deer who are ready to offer support.
The Red Deer Prostate Cancer Support Group (Prostate Cancer Canada Network – local chapter) has been lending a supportive hand for about 16 years now. It was first launched by Bill Martynes and Mike Eckenswiller, with help from Marg Scheyen of the Canadian Cancer Society.
The awareness and support group, which continues to meet every third Thursday of the month since 1997, 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.
The members of the group have a lot of information and even more personal stories to help men and their families gain insight into the different types of treatments and approaches. Anyone interested in more information about the group can contact Bert at 403-343-3808 or Bill at 403-342-0694.
“We only have four rules – we start on time, we end on time, things stay confidential and those in attendance have to laugh at least three times.”
Baird said belonging to the group has made an enormous difference in his life.
“There are so many different procedures for treating prostate cancer and everyone should explore all of them. Everyone is a little different, and a lot of it depends on how you feel about it. If you feel good about a certain (procedure), then you go with that.” The group provides an excellent setting to share one’s thoughts, fears, feelings and questions about dealing with the disease.
“It’s pretty lonely out there when you are diagnosed and you have no one to talk to,” he said. “These days, I’m not going so much that I need the support as I want to give support – to let people know there is life after cancer.”
Meanwhile, a concert presented by the Central Alberta Prostate Awareness & Support Group is slated for Nov. 7th at Festival Hall.
Singer/songwriter/artist Ben Crane will be featured at the event, which starts at 7 p.m. and also includes Lloyd Griffith, Ol’ Frisky, Ray Baird & Rod Soonias and Visions Country Gospel. Proceeds from the show will go to the David Thompson Health Trust in support of those affected by prostate cancer.
For more about the Awareness Musicale event, call Mac at 403-347-2191 or Ray Baird at 403-343-7332. Tickets are available by phone at 1-877-895-4430, online at www.davidthompsonhealthtrust.com or at 53rd Street Music.