Hopkins Park Mayor Mark Hodge encourages prostate cancer screenings, which he says caught his cancer in time to be treated.

He is letting people know Presence St. Mary’s Hospital will offer free prostate cancer screenings from 2 to 5 p.m. Sept. 20 at 500 W. Court St., Kankakee.

“I want to educate my community and beyond,” Hodge said in an email to the Daily Journal. “I knew the likelihood I would get prostate cancer was very high because my father and other brother had it. I have been tracking my prostate specific antigen, or PSA, since my early 40s.

“In my late 40s, my PSA began to elevate but was not considered dangerously high. At the age of 54, I skipped testing. The following year, I was reminded to test when I saw the Presence St. Mary’s free screening flyer. I encouraged others to test and took the test myself. I was informed shortly thereafter my results were positive for the big C, cancer.”

The results of a biopsy showed he had an aggressive form of cancer, but it was caught in time to be treated, Hodge said.

He said he was scared, and he got several opinions.

“Why did I go public with such a personal health issue? Education is the key. If you get prostate cancer, it is not a death sentence if you catch it early, and the same for colon cancer. If I had not known my brother and father had it, I may not have been as conscientious about testing as I was. As a result, I will be undergoing a robotic procedure to treat my illness,” the mayor said.

African-Americans, in particular, suffer prostate cancer at higher rates, yet, they are the least likely to get treated.

“Do your family and friends a favor,” Hodge said. “Talk to them about illnesses that run in your family.”

Presence Medical Group urologist Dr. Kent Frye will be administering the screenings alongside Dr. Bipin Bhayani.

“Unfortunately, prostate cancer is a silent disease and doesn’t have any signs or symptoms, so you have to be vigilant to find it,” Frye said in a statement. “Being proactive, in the form of discussing prostate health with your primary care physician and having regularly screenings, is so important to help catch any underlining signs of prostate issues.

“Some men might be familiar with benign enlargement symptoms, which include a slow stream or frequent urination, but prostate cancer detection includes physical exams, PSA blood tests and the use of ultrasound technology. It is one of the most common cancers in men, but the good news is, men who are diagnosed early have a better chance of beating it, so we want to make sure we are catching this disease as early as possible.”

Hospital spokesman Chris Zurales said he appreciated Hodge’s help in getting the word out.

“Our prostate screening event has been one of our most successful initiatives throughout the years,” Zurales said. “The screening is quick, easy, painless, and could be lifesaving. We encourage everyone to have a conversation today with your loved one about the importance of this screening.”

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