CALGARY – When wrestling legend Bret “the Hitman” Hart revealed his prostate cancer diagnosis online earlier this month, the phones at Calgary’s Prostate Cancer Centre started to ring.
“Men were calling and showing up at our office asking, ‘what do I have to do to get tested?’” Executive Director Pam Heard said.
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“We thought we’d take advantage of the demand because honestly the hardest thing we have to do is get men to take care of themselves and get checked.”
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In response to the demand, the centre held a special Valentine’s themed PSA testing blitz on Friday morning. A PSA test measures the blood level of prostate-specific antigens, with the theory being the higher the levels of PSAs in a man’s blood, the more likely it is that he has prostate cancer. Brian Fenske says he was inspired to get tested after reading about Hart.
“I guess it shows that it effects everybody from all walks of life and hopefully people will recognize that.”
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in Canada, impacting one out of every seven men. Each year, the disease kills 400 men in Alberta but according to Heard, PSA testing can help to bring those numbers down.”
“Early detection is so important with prostate cancer … it’s 99 per cent curable if caught early.”
Calgary-born Hart, 58, is widely thought to be one of the best wrestlers of all time, and revitalized the wrestling industry in the ’90s with his showmanship and ring presence.
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Hart began his wrestling career in 1976 as part of his father’s show, Stampede Wrestling. Hart was a champion in the WWE (then known as the WWF) in the ’80s and ’90s.
On Feb. 1, Hart revealed his diagnosis on social media.
“I’ve had a great lifelong dance and I’m a survivor of many hard battles,” he said. “I now face my toughest battle. With hesitation and fear, I openly declare myself in my fight against prostate cancer.”
On Thursday, Hart thanked fans for their support and said he had undergone surgery at Calgary’s Rockyview General Hospital.
“Things are looking up and I should be home in the next couple of days. In the words of Vince McMahon, ‘It’s onwards and upwards.’”
With files from Chris Jancelewicz