(Editor’s note: The Men’s Health Initiative, spearheaded by the local health-care charity Tomorrow’s Hope in connection with Fort HealthCare, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and other entities, is sharing men’s health stories with the public.)
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CAMBRIDGE — When Jim Jones was diagnosed with prostate cancer, it came as a complete surprise to him.
The Cambridge man only found out because he reminded his wife, Kim, about her annual checkup. Then she turned the tables on him and asked, “How about you? When’s your physical?”
If it hadn’t been for that nudge, Jones might have put off his physical and the dreaded prostate check. But he didn’t, and the check “wasn’t as bad as I thought,” he said.
The initial exam seemed to show it wouldn’t be an ongoing concern, said urologist Dr. Craig Kozler. However, follow-ups over time showed that Jones did, indeed, have prostate cancer.
It was just that he was virtually symptom free.
Sure, he’d been experiencing some nighttime trips to the bathroom and so forth, but doesn’t that happen to every man past a certain age?
Kim said she went through a stage of disbelief, and then became upset.
“You don’t know how bad it is and what’s going to happen next,” she said in a video made by Tomorrow’s Hope to educate people about the need for early detection.
Jones met with Chris Manakas from Fort HealthCare’s Urology Associates and they reviewed his options, which included surgery, hormone therapy and radiation.
Jones decided on surgery, which he said went really well, and he bounced back from that ordeal quickly.
However, a follow-up PSA test indicated the possibility that he still had some cancer located in his pelvis.
This spurred more sleepless nights before Jones decided on his next course of action: radiation therapy.
After radiation ended, his tests came back cancer-free.
And he owes it all to a “nagging wife.”
“If I’d ignored these tests, it would have shortened my life expectancy quite a bit,” Jones said.
And if he hadn’t gone on to follow up on the PSA, the outcome might have been entirely different.
Jim not being there would have left a big empty spot in Kim’s life and in the lives of their children and grandchildren.
Fortunately, he was proactive.
“Jim’s doing great,” Dr. Kozler said.
“I feel fantastic now,” Jones said. “I’m in a much better state of mind.”
Since then, Jones has made it his mission to reach out to as many men as he can to encourage them to take care of their health, through regular checkups and annual exams.
In discussion with his urologist at Fort HealthCare, Jones wondered why there was no big prevention campaign for prostate cancer like there is for breast cancer, which primarily affects women, or for other diseases such as muscular dystrophy.
In fact, he had been involved in Muscular Dystrophy Association fundraisers through his work at Bachmann Construction in the Madison area.
“Why is there not some sort of awareness campaign for prostate cancer?” he asked one of his doctors.
“It’s just not as popular,” the doctor reportedly replied. “Men don’t talk about it.”
Jones just couldn’t leave it there. He started looking around for organizations that might be able to create some type of campaign. Soon he was put in touch with Barb Endl, president of Tomorrow’s Hope, a Jefferson County-centered local health-care charity that supports research, education, prevention, treatment and care throughout the greater Jefferson County area.
Tomorrow’s Hope’s mantra is “All diseases — all communities.” That means the local nonprofit is committed to improving health-care outcomes throughout the area for people impacted by all life-limiting ailments, including, but not limited to, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Endl and Tomorrow’s Hope signed onto Jones’ vision of a Men’s Health Initiative to encourage men to take care of their health, for their own sake and the sake of their families and communities.
“I don’t know why it’s ingrained in men that they don’t want to see the doctor,” Kim Jones said.
Jones and the fellow organizers in the Men’s Health Initiative want to turn that around. The group officially organized as a nonprofit last year, held its first fundraiser last fall and is looking at ways to bring its message to the public in the coming months and years.
To become involved, people may contact Barb Endl at the Tomorrow’s Hope office at (920) 674-8967.