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Pints for prostates

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Rick Lyke found that beer is more than a social lubricant; it’s a lifesaver.

If you had something important to tell all of the men in the world, how would you do it?

That’s the question I struggled with earlier this year. As a marketer and a journalist, several ideas flooded my mind, but then it hit me like a line delivered by Homer Simpson: beer.

Last year, my friend was treated for prostate cancer, so when I had my routine physical, I asked for a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test, a simple blood test that detects potential markers for the disease. At the age of 47, with no symptoms and no family history of the disease, I didn’t think I had too much to worry about.

That PSA test, followed by two others and a biopsy in February, came back with the unsettling news that I did have prostate cancer. Right from the start I was extremely lucky: The disease had been caught early, so I had treatment options and a great chance of survival.

On April 7, I went to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago for surgery with Dr. William Catalona, one of the world’s top prostate surgeons, who performed a nerve-sparing procedure to remove my prostate. Two weeks later I was feeling well enough to go back to work, and a month after that I was back in Chicago for follow-up tests. My PSA was a perfect 0.0—and as a soccer and hockey goalie in my youth, I knew a shutout was worth celebrating.

But, I was still left to answer the question: How could I give other men the same heads-up I had received? I spoke with family and friends and urged guys around work to get tested. That felt good, but I realized there are millions of men who need to get the same message.

That’s when Homer popped into my head. The best way to reach men? Through the universal language of beer. From that idea, Pints for Prostates was born.

Pints for Prostates is a cooperative campaign among those who make, sell and promote beer as a healthy beverage. Through the help of the media, we are reaching millions of people with articles and ads. We are also involving brewers and beer retailers in the effort to spread the word through a beer coaster program and events at brewpubs and beer bars. All funds raised by Pints for Prostates are going directly to Us TOO International (www.ustoo.org), a group focused on supporting, educating and advocating for men with prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American males. Every year more than 230,000 men are diagnosed with the disease, which is on par with the number of newly diagnosed invasive breast cancer cases in women. One in six men are at risk of developing the disease in their lifetime, but if detected early enough, prostate cancer can be successfully treated. The sad truth is that while the PSA test and improved treatment options have cut the death rate dramatically, the continued silence about prostate cancer is costing men their lives.

Trust me, a PSA test can save your life. Because I had my PSA checked, I can plan on attending the Great American Beer Festival in Denver this year and for many years in the future. And because September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, do me a favor and pass the word on to a friend. You just might save his life.

 

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