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September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month: Can ZERO count you in?

 

September 1, 2018

Photo provided

Vanessa Petersen, Director, West Coast Chapter of ZERO and Dr. Randy Kam at the LA Race in June 2018.

We recently caught up with Randy Kam, a Tehachapi dentist who was diagnosed with Stage IV prostate cancer in January 2015. He was a marathoner before his diagnosis, and he remains one even through treatment for his disease. He sports a sign on his back telling his tale and encouraging men to get screened – he's had dozens of runners come up to him during the 21 marathons he's completed since his diagnosis. They talk to him about his disease, his symptoms and his treatment pathways. He shares his story to encourage them to get screened. The earlier men catch their prostate cancer, the better chance they have at living cancer-free for a long time. In fact, when caught early, the survival rate is nearly 100 percent at five years. However, the survival rate drops down to nearly 30 percent when the cancer is caught in an advanced stage, like Randy's.

This November Randy will run his third marathon to raise money for Team ZERO and ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer. ZERO is a national nonprofit with the mission to end prostate cancer. This September during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month they, alongside Randy, are spreading awareness and the message of early detection with the #CountMeIn campaign. By the time he's finished the marathon, Randy will have raised over $10K for ZERO, funds that help the organization provide research for new treatments, free prostate cancer testing, patient support programs and educate men and families about prostate cancer. To support Randy's Team ZERO fundraising, visit ZERO at: http://www.tinyurl.com/randallkam.

When Randy was first diagnosed with prostate cancer, his PSA was 840 (under 4 is normal). He underwent ADT (androgen deprivation therapy) as well as 15 Taxotere chemotherapy sessions. Recently, Randy's PSA has risen to 5.7 (he had a low PSA of .1 in 2017 after his initial 840). In 2017 with the approval of his oncologist, Nilesh Vora, he discontinued use of the ADT after 30 months on the drug in order to keep his cancer from becoming castrate resistant. If his PSA doubles in one month, his treatment plan will change and he will restart ADT with some side effects: weight gain, muscle loss, mood swings and hot flashes among others. No matter what, he won't let that stop him.

Despite the hardship, Randy always keeps his positive attitude and healthy lifestyle. He abides by strict healthy eating habits, including low carb, lean proteins, and a plant-based diet. He's happy to share his success with any man who will listen, and also encourages all men – including his dental practice patients – to get active.

"If I was not fit enough in 2015 to undergo those 15 Taxotere sessions (two and a half times normal protocol), then I would not be here today," said Randy. "I hope that my successful battle so far with this prostate cancer is a cautionary tale for others to be aware of the disease and to get fit. Invest in your health as you would your retirement – the earlier the better. Do research, stay positive, join an online forum, be your own best advocate and fight on!"

Randy will also join ZERO in Bakersfield for the Inaugural ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk at California State University Bakersfield's Amphitheater on Nov. 10. The event features a 5K run/walk, 2K walk (1.2 miles), Kids' Superhero Dash for Dad and virtual Snooze for Dudes program. The goal is to create Generation ZERO – the first generation of men free of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer takes the life of a man every 18 minutes, with one in nine men being diagnosed with the disease. In California, more than 15,190 men will be diagnosed this year. Randy knows that if we all work together, we can end prostate cancer once and for all. Learn more and register for the race at http://www.zeroprostatecancerrun.org/bakersfield.

This September, ZERO is also working alongside men like Randy to get the word out about early detection and the importance of being aware of your risk and talking to your doctor about testing for the disease. Risk factors can include: increasing age, family history, ethnicity and diet. Recent recommendations encourage shared-decision making with one's doctor about when to begin testing based on risk, personal family history and lifestyle - it's a simple blood test that can save their lives if it catches their prostate cancer early.

Can Randy and ZERO count you in to help raise awareness during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month? You can visit http://www.zerocancer.org/countmein to find out how you can get involved.

 
 

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