London Community News
By Sean Meyer/London Community News/Twitter: Newswriter22
There is likely no better time of the year than Father’s Day to focus people’s attention on the battle against prostate cancer.
One of the biggest tools in focusing that attention is the 14th edition of what is now known as the Father’s Day Walk Run. Put on across the country by Prostate Cancer Canada, the London event — known as Do It For Dad for many years — takes place Sunday, June 17, at TD Waterhouse Stadium. The event includes five-, 2.5-, and one-kilometre courses, a tot run, a silent auction and other activities.
It is an event that has made a significant impact on the lives of many men. Three of those men are John Haasen, Harold Usher and Dr. Joseph Chin.
The interconnections between the three are hard to ignore. Chin operated on both Haasen and Usher during their personal cancer battles while Chin and Usher co-wrote the successful book, Prostate! Prostate! Prostate!, which was recently translated into Chinese.
This year will make Haasen’s second year taking part in the event, following his prostate surgery in 2011.
A marathon runner who has participated in the Boston Marathon, Haasen was just one month into his recovery from surgery when he volunteered at the walk/run. Now, he is a committee member for an event that has raised almost $600,000 since it began.
“The focus is to make it a really family-oriented event. Basically everyone is honouring their fathers, their grandfathers, for being a survivor or currently going through treatment, surgery or recovery,” Haasen said. “There are post-race, post-walk activities, a lot of family-oriented activities. It really is a special kind of event.”
For Usher, who faced his own diagnoses in 1998, the event is important on a number of levels. Of course, it is a tool for raising much-needed funds, it is a way of bringing friends and family together to support those battling the disease, and it also serves to create awareness around not only the prostate, but also a form of cancer that will afflict one-in-six men.
With statistics like that, Usher said awareness is perhaps the most important result of events such as the walk/run.
“In my experience, men try to be macho; they don’t look after themselves that well, they don’t want to hear anything about prostate cancer,” said Usher, who is also the city councillor for Ward 10.
“My philosophy is we need to help men take precautions, get tested on a regular basis and, when they find a problem, take action quickly,” Usher said. “Not like me, who went into denial for two years before I did something about it. I kept putting it off. For the first six months I did practically nothing, I was hiding from it.”
Haasen and Usher agreed it is important to build the awareness around prostate cancer. And to do that, they also agree prostate cancer needs to utilize the same kinds of awareness that something like breast cancer has benefited from.
It is a point Chin, chief surgical oncology at London Health Sciences Centre, agrees with. Chin, who helped start Do It For Dad back in 1999, said the growth of Prostate Cancer Canada has made a big difference in raising the profile of the disease.
“Breast Cancer Society, Canadian Cancer Society, they are very good at promoting awareness around breast cancer. They have been very successful at getting major corporate sponsors such as CIBC,” Chin said. “So Prostate Cancer Canada is trying to get similar support. They have some support nationally. It isn’t as wide spread, but they are getting there.”
While also saying awareness is vitally important, Chin points to the many financial needs that come with the fight against prostate cancer. The money that the event has raised over the years stays in London and is used to purchase equipment, sponsors research students, and pay for clinical trials.
Locally, Usher has also seen considerable growth. In particular, Usher praised how the Fathers’ Day Walk/Run has grown to the point where organizers are hoping for 1,000 participants and volunteers this year.
“This year, I feel we are well organized and the promotion is getting out there, getting the word out there,” Usher said. “We’re letting people know that if they are interested in the subject, there is an activity out there where they can make a contribution.”
For more information on the Father’s Day Walk/Run or Prostate Cancer Canada, visit www.fathersdayrun.ca. Another information opportunity takes place this weekend as Prostate Cancer Canada will have displays set up at White Oaks Mall (1105 Wellington Rd.).
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