Backstory

Backstory 2018-06-13T16:23:53+00:00

One Easy Step to Paying It Forward and Helping Stop Prostate Cancer

I’m recruiting volunteers to give a bit of their time to help our prostate cancer awareness program this August – September, 2018, the 2018 Tour de USA® for Prostate Cancer. I will leave Los Angeles on August 15th and spend the next 36 days crossing the United States and back to raise awareness of the need for prostate cancer testing and early detection.

The Tour de USA Backstory

As many of you know, on May 3, 2018, I will be a 15-year prostate cancer survivor. I was diagnosed at age 58 when all of my prostate cancer test indictors were in the “normal” range: PSA blood test at 3.4; negative physical exam; no particular symptoms other than an occasional nocturnal visit to the bathroom.

In fact, though, I already had Stage II prostate cancer. My PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test results had been steadily rising over the preceding five years but I didn’t know to be watching it and I had gone through a series of family doctors and they hadn’t noticed the rise. The physical tests of my prostate were negative – doctors could not feel any abnormalities. It turns out this was the case because my tumors were located on the top of the prostate, just under the urethra, where they could not be felt during a physical exam.

A very fortuitous case of prostatitis – an inflammation of the prostate – caused my PSA to spike and led to my diagnosis. As a result, I think of myself as an “accidental” cancer survivor.

2014 – ProstateTracker App.com Arrives

After my diagnosis and treatment, I scoured my medical records for PSA tests results, plotted them in an Excel spreadsheet, and applied a trend line. Et violá, I clearly could see my PSA gently rising five years before my diagnosis, with a sharp rise during the final 24 months. Had I been tracking my PSA test results, I would have seen this upward trend and wouldn’t have had to rely on pure chance to survive my prostate cancer.

I created a simple Online tool that tracks PSA values and plots them on a graph with a trend line, making any rising trend clearly visible. The tool is free on the Internet at ProstateTrackerApp.com.

We have several thousand men currently using the App, but we need millions using it.

Prostate Cancer Symptoms and Statistics

  1. Prostate cancer is a silent killer. It usually presents no symptoms until it is advanced, at which point treatment options are limited.
  2. Prostate cancer is very treatable, but only if it is found early. I am now in my 14th year of prostate cancer survivorship and I’m only here because of my accidental early diagnosis.
  3. Roughly 240,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year.
  4. Almost 28,000 men die each year of the disease.
  5. The value of the PSA test has been debated hotly over the past decade, despite the fact that prostate cancer deaths declined after its introduction. A new 2017 study concludes that PSA screening is valuable and does save lives. Read a summary at the following link: New Study Offers Support for Prostate Testing.
  6. The Cancer Journeys Foundation ProstateTrackerApp is a simple and free tool that lets men personally track their prostate cancer risk.

How Smallpox Was Eradicated and We Can Do the Same for Prostate Cancer

The TED video by Dr. Larry Brilliant in the right sidebar describes how smallpox was eradicated. The cliff note is that it was accomplished through early detection and immediate treatment.

Using ProstateTrackerApp, we can do the same thing for prostate cancer. Well, we can’t eradicate it since we don’t know the causes, but we can ensure that every man (one in six will be diagnosed) finds his prostate cancer at the earliest stage when it is most treatable.

The Mission of the 2018 Tour de USA for Prostate Cancer

The route we’ve planned, from Los Angeles through Texas and the Gulf states to Atlanta, then up the east coast through the mid-west to Lincoln, Nebraska and Washington state, and finally down the coast to Los Angeles, covers roughly 51% of the total US population. If we can get enough people driving with us, we’ll generate lots of media attention for our testing and early detection message.

A number of our ’67 Brother Rats already have experienced this disease. I was diagnosed at age 58 any my cancer likely had begun when I was 48. We need to talk with our sons and grandsons about the need for testing and personally tracking their prostate cancer risk.

How You Can Help

We are a small non-profit with no paid staff. Just myself, my board, and an intern when I can find someone between jobs. Here are some of the tasks we need accomplished . . .

  1. People driving with us. Join us for a section of the route in your state, tell your network about the event, and point them to our website and Facebook page.
  2. Arrange a media event in your locale – if we come through. Short TV interviews or radio spots are a great way to get the message out. We have a donated press release service that can support you. I tried to arrange these sessions on the fly when I rode across the US in 2010, and it was super hard without a local connect.
  3. Reach out to your local Mazda dealership and see if they would like to have the convoy visit their location [again, it the route comes through your town.] This is a great opportunity for dealerships to support cancer awareness. I will be driving my personal MX-5 Miata that I “stickered” up for our autocross awareness program, so it will make good viewing.
  4. Be a route coordinator for your state. We want to drive some of the most fun and interesting roads in each state to encourage people to drive with us. Think “Tail of the Dragon” at Deals Gap in North Carolina.
  5. Help us find marshaling areas along the route where 50-100 cars could meet.
  6. Have a connection at Road Atlanta? We’d love to be able to take the convoy on a parade lap.
  7. Something we haven’t thought of:-)

This is a big undertaking and I can use any and all help.

Why This Rally Matters

Almost 28,000 American men die each year from prostate cancer. Imagine the impact to families if we can extend the lives of that cohort by 5, 10, or 20 years. I’m at 14 years and counting!

Our goal with the Tour de USA is to create an annual road rally that will prostate cancer and cancer survivors what the Rolling Thunder motorcycle ride to Washington, D.C. did for Vietnam POWs.

2018 is Year 1 of the Tour de USA and we are going for dual World Records: 1) longest charity road rally and 2) charity road rally with the most participants. I hope you will have time to be part of it in some way.

If you think you can help, please complete the contact form below. I commit to never sharing your email with any other organization. You won’t receive a stream of emails and you can opt out at any time. You can do the same if sign up to volunteer and something happens that you can’t.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and for considering our volunteer offer.

Warm regards,

Bob Hess

VMI Class of 1967
Prostate Cancer Class of 2003
Connect with me on LinkedIn: RobertWarrenHess

Be a Tour de USA Registered Driver and Help Stop Prostate Cancer!

Click this link to register for the 2018 Tour de USA

Robert Warren Hess at Justin Vineyard Paso Robles

Click the image below to see how smallpox was eradicated from the world. My goal is to do the same with prostate cancer.

Days Until We Start Engines!
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