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by Peter Fisher, M.D.   |   August 2, 2020

Countering Cancer, Even During COVID-19

Throughout my medical career, one overarching goal has been to support and build community health. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I, like many Salt Lake City area residents, have seen my friends, family, and neighbors suffer. And while I’m glad Salt Lake County (and Utah) have taken responsible steps to encourage social distancing, hand hygiene, and other preventative measures, I’m concerned that the necessary and intense focus on COVID-19 resulted in the neglect of other medical conditions.

As a urologist, one of the most common conditions I treat is prostate cancer. This is no surprise. Nationwide, and in Utah, prostate cancer is the most diagnosed non-skin cancer amongst men. Because of this, since 2017, my workplace Granger Medical Clinic has partnered with the nation’s leading nonprofit in the fight against prostate cancer, ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer, to host annual Run/Walk events in Salt Lake City. The Run/Walk brings hundreds of area residents together each year to raise disease awareness, honor survivors and caregivers, and remember those we’ve lost to this disease.

Due to COVID-19, the event could not be held in person this year. Still, physicians, prostate cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, and other members of the prostate-cancer community felt it was important to continue to bring attention to the prostate cause, even during these trying times. That’s why we turned our annual in-person event into a Virtual Celebration that took place on June 20!  In a new digital setting, we came together for one day to raise awareness, have fun, make memories, and most importantly, help patients in need. Funds raised in support of this virtual event have an immediate and direct impact on local patients who are struggling during this COVID-19 crisis.

It’s especially important to help prostate cancer patients in this time of need, as cancer can weaken the immune system and make individuals more susceptible to potentially fatal viruses like COVID-19. But these physical impacts don’t account for the economic and societal impacts of the disease, which are increasingly difficult for patients and families facing prostate cancer.

In a survey conducted by ZERO earlier this spring, more than 50 percent of the prostate cancer community had fears of the financial impact of COVID-19. Many worry about losing their jobs and health insurance, making ends meet, and paying for costly treatments. Unfortunately, more and more patients are facing this harrowing dilemma. And sadly, many patients often have no one to talk to. More than 60 percent are anxious, overwhelmed, and in need of emotional support. Another 50 percent also fear for their health and ability to receive treatment during this time.

The Salt Lake City Virtual Celebration showed the love to patients during this trying time. Together, we shared a sense of community and connection, and helped raise awareness and funds to provide direct support for patients needing assistance during COVID-19. 

Watch the close of our virtual celebration where I celebrated all that made this event possible.

Prostate cancer does not stop because of COVID-19. Our communities’ efforts to educate and inform men of their disease risks and share preventative efforts must not stop either. We can come together online to keep fighting a disease that targets thousands of Utah men each year, while staying safe in our homes. We can be active physically and via media individually and as families to raise funds, awareness, and spirits.

Even though June 20th has passed, we’ve decided to keep open individual and team registrations for Salt Lake City’s Prostate Cancer Event. Funds raised from this event go back into the community to benefit prostate cancer patients and survivors. Help us have a ZERO-cancer generation by signing up or donating today!