Rural Man Van helping to fight prostate cancer

Foothills: High River business top fundraiser in Alberta

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jun 05, 2013 06:00 am

Al Gaja of Crop Production Services in High River, left, accepts the Frank Murphy Memorial Trophy from Tony Overwater on May 29 in High River. Crop Production Services won the award for raising the most funds for the Rural Man Van.
Al Gaja of Crop Production Services in High River, left, accepts the Frank Murphy Memorial Trophy from Tony Overwater on May 29 in High River. Crop Production Services won the award for raising the most funds for the Rural Man Van.
Bruce Campbell/OWW

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Employees and customers at a foothills agricultural business knows sometimes farmers, ranchers and men in rural communities have too much on their mind to worry about getting checked for prostate cancer.

So it did something about it.

Crop Production Services out of High River was awarded the Frank Murphy Memorial Award on May 29 for pledging the most money and/or grain towards the Combines for Cures program which goes toward the purchase of a Rural Man Van. The van will visit communities in Alberta where men can have a PSA (prostate specific antigen) test which helps identify prostate cancer.

The Rural Man Van was unveiled May 29 at the Museum of the Highwood in High River.

“Myself and our sales group talked to our customers and asked if they wanted to contribute,” said Al Gaja of Crop Production Services in High River. “What they did was mostly give us dollars when their grain came back… This is great. I didn’t know until a little while ago that the High River area contributed the most for Combines for Cure.”

The 50-year-old Gaja is in tip-top shape having recently competed in a Spartan competition in Montana, however, he doesn’t take any chances with his prostate.

“I started getting checked when I was 40,” Gaja said. “Fortunately in High River it’s not like we are in the boonies and hundreds of miles from a doctor, but maybe there is an attitude of ‘everything is fine so I don’t need to do anything,’ but early detection can save you.”

When the van pulls into a community, a patient is asked some questions, and then his blood pressure is taken. Then a blood sample is taken for a PSA test. The rubber-glove treatment, which makes some men squeamish, is not done.

Art Bosch, who works at Sunshine Gas Co-op in Blackie, was glad his prostate cancer was detected early. He is a prostate cancer survivor of four years.

“I was diagnosed in 2009 through a routine physical exam,” Bosch said. “Any guy over 40 should have the baseline test and then get tested every year after.”

Bosch is a volunteer with the Urban Man Van, which is operated in Calgary.

“I have been to places where we have clinics, maybe at a motorcycle show or something, and someone will come to me and say: ‘Thanks to you I was diagnosed and I have been treated for prostate cancer.’”

The urban van has checked more than 9,000 men since starting to roll three years ago.

The Frank Murphy Award was sponsored by Tony and Sharon Overwater from Didsbury, who have lost relatives to prostate cancer.

“Farmers, if they cut their finger they will just get a rag get some black tape and say ‘I will deal with it tomorrow,’” said Tony. “It’s the same with medical testing. Too often they are waiting too long until there are symptoms and it is too late.”

The Man Van will be making a stop at Seaman Stadium for the annual Father’s Day game. The van will be at the stadium from noon to 3 p.m. The first 100 men to be tested will receive a free pair of Get Checked boxer shorts.

In addition, the Okotoks Dawgs and Western Wheel have partnered with the Prostate Cancer Centre to help promote the event. Go to www.westernwheel.com and enter the Get Checked contest for your chance to win a prize package for dad including four tickets to the Dawgs’ Father’s Day game on June 16.

Anyone wishing for more information for to www.getchecked.ca


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