A simple PSA test could lead to an addition to the Guinness Book of World Records
The Prostate Cancer Centre at the Rockyview General Hospital is challenging Calgary men over 40 - born in 1971 or earlier - to help them break a new world record on Wednesday, Sept. 21.
Dr. Bryan Donnelly poses with a pair of boxer shorts reading “Get Checked.” The first 500 men to show up to the event will receive a free pair of boxer shorts among other goodies.
Photo by: Matthew Hayhurst
Dr. Bryan Donnelly, an urologist, and a founding member of the Prostate Cancer Centre, says that early detection of prostate cancer lends itself to more options to treat the prostate with minimal damage to surrounding tissues.
“The Guinness Book of World Records staff has agreed that if we have more than 250 men show up to get screened for prostate cancer within an eight-hour window, they would add us to the book,” he said.
“But we have our sights set on a higher number. We would like to see over 1,000 men walk through those doors next Wednesday for a quick PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test, and help us get into the records book.”
A prostate-specific antigen is a protein produced by the prostate gland, and released into the bloodstream in small amounts. By drawing a small sample of blood, an urologist can run a few diagnostic tests and detect early forms of prostate cancer.
According to the Prostate Cancer Centre website (www.prostatecancercentre.ca), the PSA baseline testing will be free during the day of the world record attempt, but there is normally a charge of $27 to get the test done, unless prostate cancer is suspected prior to the test.
Alberta is one of three provinces in Canada that does not cover the cost of the PSA test, but Dr. Donnelly says that the Prostate Cancer Centre is pushing for the Alberta government to make PSA testing free.
Linda MacNaughton, manager of community initiatives for the Prostate Cancer Centre, is excited to attempting a new record.
“Prostate cancer is a big deal, and most men assume that it will never happen to them,” she said. “That’s why we’re challenging all men over the age of 40 to come down and help us get into the Guinness Book of World Records.”
MacNaughton said that 10 nurses will be on hand to conduct the PSA tests, and the results should be interpreted the next day.
Doug Driediger stands beside the painting that depicts the end of his fight with Prostate Cancer. As he reached the summit of the mountain, his cancer days were beneath him. The painting is on display in the Prostate Cancer Centre.
Photo by: Matthew Hayhurst
“We’ll notify people by phone once we have their results,” she said. “We’re prepared to see 1,000 men walk through our doors, and we really hope we can reach that number.”
Dr. Donnelly explained that prostate cancer is generally a disease of older men, but that doesn’t mean that the disease couldn’t show up sooner.
“More people who treat prostate cancer are starting to test for it around the age of 40 because that’s when early signs of the cancer may start showing up,” Dr. Donnelly said.
“What we hope to accomplish by doing this is to challenge other centres across Canada to beat our record. We want to raise awareness for prostate cancer and the importance of getting screened at the same time.”
The Prostate Cancer Centre, located on the upper level of the parking garage at the Rockyview General Hospital, will be open for the drop-in PSA test from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 21. Appointments are not accepted. The event is drop-in only.
Parking at the hospital will be reimbursed for participants of the world record attempt.
For more information on the PSA test, participation in the event or the world record attempt, visit www.prostatecancercentre.ca.
More than surviving
Doug Driediger, a 53-year-old graphic designer and artist, and Wayne Cornish, a 65-year-old engineer, were both diagnosed with an early stage of prostate cancer. Because the cancers were diagnosed early, they were both able to overcome the disease.
“Some people refer to themselves as prostate cancer survivors, but here the mantra is that you’re a graduate,” Driediger said. “It’s just a better way of thinking about the process you’ve just been through. You’re over and above the cancer now, and moving on with life. I can now say that I am a graduate of the program here at the Prostate Cancer Centre.”
Driediger was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2005. It has now been six years since he has been free of the cancer.
“My urologist told me just last month that statistically, there is almost no chance that I will ever get it again,” Driediger said with a smile. “So I consider myself to be more than a survivor for sure. The cancer is now past me, and I am living my life more now than I did before the cancer.”
To Driediger, overcoming the cancer inspired him to be more productive with his artistic abilities, and has since expressed his experience through a painting: a self-portrait that shows him reaching the summit of a mountain depicting the triumph of his struggle with cancer.
Cornish recalled the moment when he learned he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“When I was first diagnosed with prostate cancer, my whole body went numb,” Cornish said. “Just hearing the word cancer; it was the end of the world for me. I’m glad my wife was with me, because I didn’t hear a word that anyone said for an hour, I was in so much disbelief.”
Cornish, who was diagnosed in 2010, is now free of the cancer that threatened his life. He remembers the decision-making process, and how hard it was on him and his wife.
“We were never left in the dark when it came to decision making. My doctor told my wife and I everything we needed to know, and guided us every step of the way,” he explained. “We made the decision together, all three of us, to do a radical surgery to make sure the cancer was gone for good. Every step of the way, no matter how badly I felt, I was supported the entire way by my urologist and the whole staff here at the Centre.”
Cornish explained that when he was freed from the cancer, it was a life-changing event.
“I became healthier, I’m more into biking and hiking and I’ve been living a more active lifestyle. Most of all, I am enjoying life a lot more,” he exclaimed.
Editor note: Updated, September 20: Our original version of this story mistakenly misspelled Doug Driediger's last name as Priedigar. We have replaced all mentions with the correct spelling and apologize for the error.