Despite the weather, a large crowd gathered at Wolf Brewing Company for the Man Up to Cancer event to show their support for the Nanaimo Sea Wolves.
A panelist of five individuals, ranging from patients to medical professionals, took the stage to talk about their experiences and how the cancer diagnosis affects someone mentally.
Co-founder Greg Brown, who is also a cancer survivor, says the event keeps growing, and having people show up to the venue and show their support is heartwarming.
“The community for the second year in a row has risen, and this is all about giving back to the community,” Brown says. “We are thankful to the people and sponsors for their support.
“We couldn’t do this without them.”
Brown says his own journey with cancer was very difficult, and hit him hard, so having a group of individuals to talk to really allows those dealing with all aspects of cancer to open up.
Brown elaborated by mentioning personal interaction is the key to helping those diagnosed get through it and help remove depression.
“Personal interactions create the most impact, but we help through social media as well, but it is not the same,” he says. “When you talk to other people who have been touched by cancer they come out, people who are complete strangers.”
Sea Wolves vice-president Don Helgeson is also a two-time cancer survivor and says he got involved with Man Up to Cancer because of the background and how his own experiences related to the message the organization was sending out.
“This is something I really appreciated, maybe down the road if something else happened I would have this in my back pocket,” Helgeson says. “I could also help a cancer patient, or survivor down the road with my experience.”
Helgeson says the idea of communicating with other men gave him the ability to open up and heal quicker and that is why, along with Brown, they founded the non-profit.
“Men actually will heal better if they connect with other men who have gone through the same thing they’ve gone through.”
The Nanaimo chapter of Man Up to Cancer has been raising awareness and funds for cancer patients and, through their second annual event, has started the chemo backpacks. Both Helgeson and Brown agree the partnership with Wolf Brewing has been instrumental in providing community support.
Wolf Brewery owner Rob Regner says he didn’t hesitate when he was approached to help the local chapter promote their cause because so many have been impacted by cancer.
“I was really taken back by their story,” Regner says. “There aren’t many people who haven’t been impacted one way or another by cancer. For me, it wasn’t a matter of ‘if’ we were going to do something together, it was a question of ‘what’ we were going to do.”
This weekend was the second annual event and according to Regner this year, despite the weather, was even busier than last year.
According to BC Cancer, prostate cancer accounts for roughly 12 per cent of all cancer diagnosis in BC men, and approximately one in nine men are expected to develop prostate cancer during their lifetime.
Dr. Steve Kulla says early detection, and education, is the key to fighting prostate cancer and that a prostate-specific antigen test (PSA) is the best way to test for cancer.
“This is used as a screening test for prostate cancer, but the best treatment for cancer is to catch it early, perhaps even before they are truly cancerous,” Kulla says. “If we can screen early enough, they can be readily treated.”
Kulla says while the test is a good indication it is not always accurate but is a good indicator for physicians.
“Just because a PSA is elevated doesn’t mean you have cancer,” he says. “This allows us to open the door and provide further tests and assessments.
“It is fraught with false positives but is a good discussion starting point if you have a high PSA test.”
Man Up to Cancer, in Nanaimo, has given out 40 backpacks to men with cancer, and with the help of fundraising and Wolf Brewing, they are looking to expand that amount.
The organization was founded in 2020 by stage four colon cancer survivor Trevor Maxwell and currently has grown to 1,700 men connected around the world through social media.