DIAMONDS AND DENIM
The men’s cancer awareness organization – It’s in Your Jeans – was born out of tragic loss and sadness.
Cindy Czarnik lost her father to colon cancer. A colleague, Vonda Grant, lost her young male cousin to testicular cancer. Both types of cancer carry a high cure rate, if caught early, but neither man got the necessary screening.
In 2016 Czarnik and Grant helped found It’s in Your Jeans with the goal of raising awareness of men’s cancers, promoting screenings and helping men defray the costs of those screenings.
The main thrust was to start talking about what can be an embarrassing illness and get men the early information that can save lives.
“The (Susan G.) Komen Foundation has been around for about 20 years and it has done a great job of educating women about breast cancer,” said Czarnik. “We know about it, we talk about it, we get mammograms and no one has trouble talking about them.
“We are trying to do the same thing for these cancers.”
“These cancers” are colon, testicular and prostate cancers. Those three, along with lung cancer, are the most common killers of men.
Here is what It’s in Your Jeans would like you to know.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men.
It occurs in the prostate, a small walnut-shaped gland in men that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm. Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men.
Usually prostate cancer grows slowly and is initially confined to the prostate gland, where it may not cause serious harm. However, while some types of prostate cancer grow slowly and may need minimal or no treatment, other types are aggressive and can spread quickly.
When prostate cancer is found only within the prostate gland, it has the best chance of being cured. Signs and symptoms include trouble urinating, decreased force in the stream of urine, blood in semen, discomfort in the pelvic area, bone pain and erectile dysfunction.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women in the United States. It is estimated that more than half of all cases could be prevented by regular screenings.
Colorectal cancer nearly always starts with noncancerous growths called polyps, which would typically be identified and removed during a colonoscopy.
This important screening can actually prevent the development of cancer.
Beginning at age 50, both men and women should have a colonoscopy every 10 years, or even every 3-5 years if polyps are found. Screening may be earlier based on family history. While a colonoscopy is the recommended screening, your doctor may offer a simple take home test to look for hidden blood in the stool. If blood is found, then a colonoscopy would be recommended. Talk with your doctor about your history and schedule the colorectal cancer screening type that is best for you. Signs and symptoms include dark or bright red blood in stool, abdominal pain and unexpected weight loss.
Testicular cancer occurs in the testicles, which are located inside the scrotum. It is the most common cancer in American males between the ages of 15 and 35.
Those with a history of an undescended testicle have a higher risk. Compared with other types of cancer, testicular cancer is rare, but noted to be the most curable cancer with excellent survival rates.
Some doctors recommend regular testicular self-examinations to identify testicular cancer at its earliest stage. Discuss testicular self-examination with your doctor if you’re unsure about whether it’s right for you. Signs and symptoms include a lump or enlargement in either testicle, a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum, a dull ache in the abdomen or groin, a sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum, pain or discomfort in a testicle or the scrotum, enlargement or tenderness of the breasts and back pain.
There is no way to prevent testicular cancer. To determine whether a lump is testicular cancer, your doctor may recommend testing with an ultrasound, screening blood-work and possibly surgery.
Lung cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in men.
Naturally, active smokers are at highest risk as well as those who have been exposed to asbestos. Second-hand smoke can cause it and even non-smokers can develop lung cancer. Signs and symptoms include, new cough unrelated to infection, chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing up blood and unexpected weight loss with large smoking history.
To raise money, It’s in Your Jeans does community fundraising throughout the year, many of those are fun “guest bartender” events with local politicians, police and fire chiefs and business people manning the taps.
Last month the ground held its largest fundraiser of the year at Southgate’s Crystal Gardens. Called Diamonds and Denim, it was a dinner and dancing event with raffles and giveaways.
Czarnik said the event attracted 230 attendees and was the group’s most successful major fundraiser yet.
“Patricia Anderson and Christine Gorno did a phenomenal job of organizing things for us,” Czarnick said. “This is not an easy event to put on and they pulled it off beautifully.”
It’s in Your Jeans donates money to Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital, Trenton Beaumont Hospital and to the Downriver Community Clinic, formerly known as the Wyandotte Clinic for the Working Uninsured.
These organizations use the money for free screening and information events and now some is earmarked for Wyandotte Hospital’s Integrative Medicine/Acupuncture unit, which provides acupuncture relief therapy for men undergoing cancer treatment.
To date, the group has raised more than $150,000.
The Downriver Community Clinic will hold a Men’s Health Day – sponsored by It’s in Your Jeans – on Oct. 5 from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
The free event will provide a check-up with a physician, a prostate exam, discussion of symptoms related to urinary and sexual health and PSA lab work to be completed before the exam.
To participate, patients must make an appointment before Oct. 2. You can do so by calling the clinic at 734-365-3560 or emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The clinic also plans Men’s Wellness days in February and June, but those dates have not yet been solidified.
It’s in Your Jeans is also reaching out to Downriver For Veterans to make screening and information readily available to their clients.
It’s in Your Jeans’ leaders are Patricia Cook Anderson, chairman; Cindy Czarnik, president; Christina Gorno, executive vice president; Melissa Armatis, treasurer; Dana Uhse, secretary; and John McNally, trustee.
Organization members are, Dr. Dennis Lemanski, Frank Torti, Lisa Pinkowski, Peter Rose, Rachael Nicholson, Rob Bovitz, Vonda Grant, Marianne Malone, Kevin Rourke, Christine Stesney-Ridenour, Nona Estes, Dr. Jessica Schering and Karen Yacobucci.
“We have had a lot of support from the community and we are grateful,” said Czarnik.
If you or someone you know is battling cancer, reach out to It’s in Your Jeans for help. The group is willing to offer assistance toward non-insurance covered expenses including, but not limited to, transportation, childcare, deductibles, medication, and integrative medicine. Requests can be directed to: email@example.com.