September 5, 2003 at 8:03 PM CDT - Updated June 23 at 4:36 PM
Mens' Health Program By: Wendy Ray
CARBONDALE, IL --Prostate cancer is every bit as feared by men as breast cancer is by women
, but you don't see as many health programs for men.
That's why the Jackson County Health Department is gearing up for a new campaign to protect men's health. The department has kicked off the Screen for Life program. It's goal is to screen 500 men for prostate cancer over the next nine months. One Heartland man, who's a survivor of the disease, says early detection is the reason he's here today.
"I had no symptoms, none at all," prostate cancer survivor Larry Meyer says. Just because Larry didn't have symptoms of prostate cancer didn't mean he ignored the fact he could get the disease, his father had it. "I felt like it was such an easy way to do it," Larry's wife Sharon says. "The Carbondale Clinic was offering a low cost screening and I thought it was the thing to do." Larry says, "It was just a matter of yeah, it's $20 I could get it done and there it was, I had no idea."
It's a good thing Larry listened to his wife and had the screening done. He had been getting digital rectal exams since he turned 50, but that one particular screening was important. "Just like anybody when someone comes up and tells you you have cancer it changes your life, you don't sweat the small stuff anymore," he says. Larry caught his cancer early, it was only in his prostate which was a good thing. Doctors removed his prostate and he hasn't had any problems since, that was 11 years ago. Larry knows early detection saved his life. "It is the second leading killer of men," Larry says. That's why Larry's helping the Jackson County Health Department and Southern Illinois Healthcare kick off a program designed to protect men in southern Illinois. Angie Bailey with the Jackson County Health Department says, "The state thought we could use some funding." The state gave Jackson County $47,000 to provide free prostate specific antigen tests, which are just simple blood tests. Larry says it's a small thing to do to save your life. "People say well I don't want to go through a rectal exam, I don't want to get a blood test, but it's better than going through everything else if the cancer spreads."
African American men and men with a family history of the disease are more at risk of developing prostate cancer. The Jackson County Health Department will be doing PSA tests at different times next week at the Murphysboro Apple Festival.