George Wright is taking part in the Do It For Dad Run and Walk Sunday.

George Wright is taking part in the Do It For Dad Run and Walk Sunday.

Tackling cancer head on

The Do it For Dad Run and Walk, presented by Interior Savings, takes place Sunday at Coldstream Ranch

How many times have you found yourself uttering that familiar lament, “If I knew then what I know now?”

For George Wright, it has been a haunting refrain for the past two years.

When the Edmonton firefighter retired to Vernon in 2005, he looked forward to an active lifestyle in the sunny Okanagan.  Like many men, prostate testing was the last thing on his mind.

“I never heard about a prostate test until I was 64.  When I asked my doctor for one, he said he wouldn’t test unless there were signs or symptoms,” he said.

Unfortunately, two years later, when the symptoms appeared for Wright, he was not only diagnosed with prostate cancer, but the cancer had metastasized to his lymph nodes.

“It was devastating to my wife and me.  Your life is totally turned upside down.”

When Wright called family members with the news, he was shocked to learn that his brother had been diagnosed with prostate cancer two years previously.

“Men don’t like to talk about it.  The doctor never even told my brother to tell other males in the family,” said Wright.

While there’s no turning back the clock to change his circumstances, Wright hopes to help others have a better future.

“Once you turn 50, I tell guys to get a PSA test.  It’s just a blood test to give you a benchmark.  It’s what you do afterwards that can have risks, but early diagnosis can save your life.”

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Canadian men and men with a father or brother who has had prostate cancer are two times more likely to develop prostate cancer than men with no family history of the disease.

Wright’s treatment includes radiation and hormone therapy.  He also visits a whole health clinic that helps with spiritual needs as well as nutrition, exercise and healthy food preparation.

“If you get focused on the illness, you can get pretty overwhelmed,” he said.  “All the specialists have been incredibly good.”

Wright is a member of the Vernon Prostate Support and Awareness Group (PSA Group).  The PSA Group meets the fourth Monday of each month from September to June at the People Place, providing men and their families with information and support.

The PSA Group also partners with Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation for the annual Do it For Dad Run and Walk to raise money for equipment to diagnose and treat prostate cancer in the North Okanagan.  Funds also pay for PSA screening vouchers.  PSA screenings are not covered by medical services unless a man has a history of prostate cancer.

“It’s great that we have events like Do it For Dad to help to get the word out and to raise money for treatment.”

The Do it For Dad Run and Walk, presented by Interior Savings, takes place Sunday at Coldstream Ranch. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and the race starts at 9:30 a.m.

To register or donate, visit www.vjhfoundation.org or call 250-558-1362.