Last week was Men’s Health Week, and Brent Rudler, Treasurer for the Liquor Stores Association of WA (LSA WA), shared his prostate cancer story with National Liquor News.
Rudler is a well-known figure in the liquor retail landscape of WA, owning two stores, and has previously served as the Mayor of Port Headland.
In 2014, Rudler was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Now in the clear, Rudler explained how he was diagnosed and reasserted the importance of getting regular health checks for all men, of all ages.
“I’ve got a blood disorder that requires me to have an iron infusion every four to five weeks. I’ve been doing that for years, and annually every September I get all my other checks done at the same time – all the normal stuff, skin checks…
“And then I get a call from the doctor, two or three days later and he said: ‘Your iron count’s low again, we have to do another set of blood tests on you, can you come in.’
In this round of testing, Rudler noticed that the doctor had included a PSA, or Prostate-specific Antigen blood test, which measures the amount of the antigen released into the blood. With other risk factors, a high PSA count can be a sign of prostate cancer.
“Lo and behold, I get a call a week or so later: ‘You need to come in and see me… we’ve got a reading on your PSA and it’s jumped from zero to hero, I’m sending you off to the urologist straight away.’
“The urologist got in, and sure enough, yeah it was [prostate cancer].”
Rudler spoke openly of the anxiety he felt at possibility of the cancer having metastasised – but also of the straightforward nature of the operation.
“The other bit to it all is going through the not knowing of whether its actually jumped, whether it’s out of the prostate. You go through all the blue dye through your system, the ultrasound scans to make sure the cancer hasn’t spread.
“I was lucky, we ticked that box, I suppose we got it early… They said: ‘Yep, we’ve got it, all contained, it looks good.’
“Anyway, they got it out. Two nights later when I was in hospital, the doctors came and saw me and said: ‘We’re lucky we got these, when we sliced it all up, the cancer was really just ready to jump onto the top end of your prostate’… That was lucky in itself.
“I had compounding issues, and it was only late last week, that I got the final clearance after nine years.”
The LSA WA Treasurer also sent a clear message to men in the industry: get checked.
“The thing that still gets me with it is the misunderstanding of men that: ‘I had it tested five years ago, a couple of years ago, and it’s all good.’
“That’s not good enough anymore. We need to be checking every year, at least once a year.
“So that’s what I say when I get an opportunity to tell people – it really is as simple as just getting a blood test done, when everyone should be going to the doctor once a year to get a checkup.”
Rudler also believes in the power of conversations to help change the stigma around prostate cancer testing.
“With a lot of my mates, once I got it, a topic of conversation out of me is that it’s not just an old man’s disease anymore.
“My urologist has done men as young as 30… It’s not an old man’s disease.
“You’ve got to get over that stigma – and that my grandfather didn’t die from it, my father’s healthy, so why should I have it.
“I think that’s the bit we need to get over and get people to recognise that when you go to the doctor, and you’re required to get some blood tests, ask them to put it in: ‘Can you check my PSA, can you check my prostate?’ That’s the message we’ve got to get out.
“Every man out there will know somebody along the line that has suffered from prostate cancer. Whether it’s a family that’s lost the partner, husband, grandfather, great grandfather.
“Every man out there needs to realise: you’re not Superman. There’s no boundaries on it. All the money in the world cannot save you if you go terminal with prostate cancer.
“I urge all men from 30 years onward to do an annual check up… All we want you to do is do a blood test,” Rudler stated.