Acting governor Victor B. Hocog proclaimed September yesterday as the CNMI Prostate Cancer Awareness Month—an event highlighted by a prostate cancer survivor announcing his bid to participate in Ironman 70.3 Saipan next month.
Florence Antonio has survived stage 3 prostate cancer after surgery in late 2015 followed by four consecutive operations within the next three months.
“I was diagnosed in May 2015. I was told to [undergo other treatments] besides the surgery, but I chose to go with the surgery,” he said, adding that he has been cancer-free since his operation.
Antonio underwent two additional gall bladder surgeries within the first two weeks of January and soon after two additional surgeries for his abdominal hernia and another complication.
Antonio urges men who are at least 45 years old to undergo prostate cancer screening, contrary to the well-known suggested age of 55 years old.
“…I don’t believe in the [recommended age]. Earlier is better. At 45 years old, I think it is the best time,” he said, emphasizing the importance of screening, especially among families who have had histories with prostate cancer.
“I want to show to the world that after all the surgeries and after being a cancer survivor, …I can still do the half Ironman,” he said, adding that he also wishes to participate in the full Ironman after two years.
The proclamation Hocog signed yesterday noted that prostate cancer remains the most commonly diagnosed non-skin cancer among men across the nation, that about 230,000 men in the U.S. learned last year that they have prostate cancer.
About 30,000 men throughout the nation lost their lives to the disease in 2010, while one in six men in the nation are at risk of developing prostate cancer during their lifetime. About one-third of prostate cancer occurs in men under the age of 65 during their prime work years, and at any age, prostate cancer devastates families through loss of income, partnership, and support.