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Two Super lifesavers will pay a visit

by Dave Johnson, Executive sports editor, Evansville Courier

June 4, 2006 - Stan Musial is a lifesaver. So are Bob Gibson, Richard and Kyle Petty and former Sen. Bob Dole.

As far as I know, none of them ever pulled a grandmother from a burning building, rescued a youngster who was drowning in a pool or performed CPR.

But they've all helped save lives, and they did it in the same way- by teaching people about prostate cancer.

Robin Lawrence is a lifesaver, too. She's the director of marketing for the Evansville Cancer Center and the person who puts together the annual Prostate Cancer Awareness Program.

In past years, Lawrence has brought in Musial, Gibson, the Pettys and Dole to talk about their experiences with the disease.

This year, she has landed a couple of legendary football players. "Tackling Prostrate Cancer with Len Dawson and Bart Starr" is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 24.

The location for Dawson's and Starr's appearance has not been determined. But it will start at 7 p.m. and, like in the past, will feature a silent auction of sports memorabilia and other items.

It's another nice coup for Lawrence. Dawson and Starr not only are pro football Hall of Famers, but they were the quarterbacks in the first Super Bowl. It was in January of 1967 that Starr led the Green Bay Packers to a 35-10 victory over Dawson and the Kansas City Chiefs.

The American Cancer Society estimates 234,460 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year, and 27,350 will die from it.

Dawson, 70, is a prostate cancer survivor. He can talk first-hand about the importance of being screened annually for the disease.

"That's the number one goal of this event," said Lawrence. "When prostate cancer is detected early, we can save lives."

With the support of local urologists and various corporate and individual sponsors and volunteers, the Evansville Cancer Center is able to offer free screenings.

"We screened 300 men last year," Lawrence said, "and 21 had PSAs of 4.0 or higher and required follow-up care."

Some 203 had failed to follow the guidelines of being screened ever year. Worse yet, 117 had never been screened.

"I had an uncle who died of prostate cancer," Lawrence said. "He had never been screened. My worry is how many men are walking around out there with the disease and do not know it. These are men with families, jobs and a life. If detected early, we can save them. But the key is early detection."

A second goal of the local awareness program is to raise money for Cancer Care Options, Inc.

"This is a not-for-profit organization that buys medications for people with cancer who cannot afford to buy them but are in pain or suffering," Lawrence said. "The services are available to any person in the Tri-State area."

Cancer Care Options Inc. was started in 1996 by Dr. Al Korba, the Evansville Cancer Center's medical director. Lawrence said the prostrate prevention program was his vision and that he "gave me permission to run with it."

The first event, with Gibson in 2002, drew more than 600 people.

"Afterward, Dr. Korba said, to me, 'You don't think small, do you?' " Lawrence recalled.

"No, I don't," she told him.

You can't - if you want to save lives.




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