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Prostate cancer survivor volunteers with Man Van

The Man Van

The Man Van was in Fort Macleod on Thursday in conjunction with the Farmer’s Market at the curling rink.

Martin Nowakowski knows that a simple blood test helped save his life.
Now the Calgary resident volunteers with the Man Van, which travels across Alberta providing men the chance at an early diagnosis of prostate cancer.
“I go out as often as I can,” Nowakowski said. “It’s my way of paying back.”
The Man Van was in Fort Macleod on Thursday, parked outside the curling rink during the weekly Farmer’s Market.
A steady stream of men signed up for the PSA test — a blood test done in the Man Van — that helps in the early detection of prostate cancer.
PSA is a protein produced by the prostate and released in small amounts to the bloodstream.
The amount of PSA in the bloodstream can often predict a man’s risk of prostate cancer.
Nowakowski learned about the PSA test from a brochure he read in his doctor’s office while waiting for a check-up in 2004.
Nowakowski took the brochure into the exam room and had his doctor refer him for a PSA test.
“A week later I got a call and they said I had prostate cancer,” Nowakowski said.
Prostate cancer is the leading cancer in Alberta men, with one man in seven developing prostate cancer in his lifetime.
About 2,600 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in Alberta, and eight will die from it every week.
Nowakowski was sent to the Prostate Cancer Centre at the Rockyview General Hospital in Calgary where a rectal exam confirmed the diagnosis.
It was at the clinic that Nowakowski found out he had a PSA reading of 5.3.
“When they told me I had prostate cancer I wasn’t worried,” Nowakowski said. “Everybody gets cancer.”
Nowakowski was sent for more tests and when he got the call to come back to the doctor, that’s when he started getting worried.
“I got the phone call and he said one thing that scared the heck out of me,” Nowakowski said. “He said, ‘Bring your wife with you,’ so I knew it was bad. And it was.”
Nowakowski’s cancer was aggressive, so he didn’t have much time to act.
The doctor ruled out an operation to remove the cancer, as well as radiation and chemotherapy as options for treatment.
Of the remaining options it was determined to try cryoablation, in which the prostate is frozen to kill the cancer.
The procedure cleared up the cancer and Nowakowski remains cancer-free today.
A friend got Nowakowski involved as a Man Van volunteer, and he goes out as often as three times a week to handle registration.
“We travel all over Alberta,” said Nowakowski, who in addition to volunteering with the Man Van does fund-raising and awareness with his company, Sure Shot Golf Events.
In addition to the PSA test on Thursday, men from Fort Macleod and district could have their blood pressure, blood glucose and body mass index checked.