Former Calgary police officer Mitch Freko moved to the mid-Island in 2009 to enjoy retirement, but it was nearly cut short by a 2013 diagnosis of prostate cancer.
“I get an annual physical, and I know to get PSA (prostate-specific antigen) testing,” said Freko. “Well, my PSA number was always three, but in 2013 it shot up to eight. For whatever reason, I had no symptoms, but my doctor found three of four lobes had aggressive cancer, and started my treatment the next day.”
These days, Freko is helping spread awareness and raise money for resources to help others who have been diagnosed — or are yet to be.
Freko is now in his third year on the committee for the Aug. 27 Blue Tie Golf Day at Morningstar Golf Club in Parksville. The scramble-format golf tournament is dedicated to raising money for the Island Prostate Centre in Victoria.
It was started four years ago by another prostate cancer survivor, George Kenno. He teamed up with a number of his golf buddies at Morningstar Golf Club to raise about $1,400 in a casual round of golf, then created a full-fledged, one-day scramble tourney in 2014.
“I met George Kenno and Larry (Kostyk) and Steve Boyle, who had started this idea,” said Freko. “I wanted to get on board.”
The first Blue Tie tourney raised $11,500; last year the figure leaped to $24,500.
While Freko did not personally utilize the support services of the Island Prostate Centre, which serves patients and families of patients across Vancouver Island, he does note the non-profit’s work is invaluable to those in need.
“I’m fortunate in that I had personal resources,” he said. “But I think a lot of people on the Island are not as fortunate as I am and those services are instrumental. It’s a terribly frightening experience.”
As important as raising money for the centre, Freko added, is simply getting the word out to men to get regular checkups and specifically test for PSA. After his own diagnosis he sent an email to 77 current and former members of his old police department in Calgary.
“I heard back from 11 who either had prostate cancer or who had it earlier and survived,” Freko said. “That pretty much backs up the statistics that one in seven men will suffer from this over the course of their life.”
And, as his own case demonstrated, prostate cancer can strike suddenly and without warning.
“We moved to this beautiful island to enjoy retirement,” he said. “It would be terrible to lose that to something that can be prevented.”
Registration for this month’s tourney is $170 per player, including 18 holes of golf, dinner, gifts, draws and a tax receipt.
Registration is ongoing and individual and team spots are available for the scramble.
To sign up or for more info, contact Kenno at 250-954-2265 or firstname.lastname@example.org.