Race supports prostate cancer survivors

By: Robert Guttersohn | Royal Oak Review | Published June 11, 2013

 Walkers and runners start the Run for the Ribbon last year at the Detroit Zoo. Organizers expect 1,600 participants for this year’s event June 16.

Walkers and runners start the Run for the Ribbon last year at the Detroit Zoo. Organizers expect 1,600 participants for this year’s event June 16.

ROYAL OAK — Jerry Rumph used to be like most men — he hated visiting the doctor.

More than five years ago, he couldn’t stand even the thought. The idea of being picked and prodded scared him.

“I was always told, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’” the 58-year-old Shelby Township man said recently. “So, I never went to the doctor.”

But going in for a checkup after experiencing anxiety issues likely saved his life.

After having his blood drawn, doctors discovered his prostate-specific antigen — an enzyme created by the prostate — was a little high, meaning he was at a slight risk of having prostate cancer.

Rumph had an ultrasound and then a biopsy done on his prostate. When doctors discovered cancerous tumors, they told him surgery was needed to remove them.

“For me to choose surgery over other means, that was quite a leap of faith,” he said.

Doctors performed the surgery June 8, 2008, a date he will never forget.

“That number will stick in my mind forever,” he said of the date.

The life-saving surgery led Rumph to change the way he looks at hospital visits and preventative medicine.

And now he is one of thousands of survivors who participate in the annual Michigan Institute of Urology Run for the Ribbon 5k at the Detroit Zoo.

The event, in its fifth year, will take place at 8 a.m. on Father’s Day, June 16. Proceeds from it go toward MIU’s efforts to promote the awareness and treatment of prostate cancer and the development of prostate cancer survival teams.

The teams are support groups willing to assist prostate cancer survivors dealing with issues post-cancer treatment, said Michael Lutz, a urologist and board member for MIU’s Men’s Health Foundation. The teams help men who are underserved or uninsured with medical costs. So far, MIU has donated $30,000 this year to help men pay for their medical needs.

Despite the 30,000 annual prostate cancer deaths and 200,000 diagnoses, Lutz said men are horrible advocates for their own health. The MIU run encourages men to stand up for their wellness.

“We’re excited to see men and their significant others coming out to be advocates for their own health,” Lutz said of the race participants.

As for Rumph, he now visits the doctor once every three months to have his PSA score checked.

“The way I look at it, I’m only three months away from detecting possible cancer,” he said.

He now encourages friends who are at risk of having prostate cancer and tells them how to prepare before and after surgery. As for the surgery’s after-effects, he finds himself having to use the bathroom more often than he used to, but for him, that’s just a matter of planning ahead.

Relative to where he could be, “It’s a minor thing to put up with,” he said.

Registrations made before June 13 are $30 for adults and $20 for children. Race day registration is $35 for adults and $25 for children. Online registration at www.miurunfortheribbon.org is available until June 14. After June 14, participants must register on race day.