Ken Kelly

Community leader opens up about prostate cancer

When your body doesn't feel right, it's a sign that something is wrong. That motto is something Ken Kelly is all too familiar with.

When your body doesn’t feel right, it’s a sign that something is wrong. That motto is something Ken Kelly is all too familiar with.

Kelly, a prominent member of the local community and general manager of the Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA), was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Two years ago, he went to his family doctor for an annual medical check up, which required routine blood tests.

However, the tests revealed his prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland, had increased significantly. He was eventually sent to a urologist for a biopsy. Though nothing was detected, Kelly’s PSA continued to rise and he was experiencing discomfort below the belt.

“I’m going ‘look, I’m concerned about this’,” Kelly said.

In November, after a third biopsy and the use of an advanced ultrasound that had just come to Vancouver Island, doctors were finally able to diagnose Kelly with prostate cancer.

“Because it had been spread over a long period of time, it was shock combined with relief,” Kelly said about the diagnosis. “I could feel there was something the matter with me.”

Earlier this year, Kelly left the DVBA for two months on medical leave to have a radical prostatectomy, in which the doctor removed his prostate and surrounding lymph nodes.

Though he’s not completely cancer free yet, Kelly is sharing his story in hopes it will encourage other men to get checked.

“Society is so much more open in so many respects than it ever has been and yet there is the cloak of mystery around serious illness and death. It’s so important that as we walk life’s road, we share that with each other and learn from each other,” he said, adding his wife Jo-Ann Roberts and their four children helped him get through the challenging journey.

“Cancer can be beaten . . . that requires being your own advocate and staying positive.”

Kelly is also taking part in the sixth annual Westcoast Motorcycle Ride to Live this weekend, where hundreds of men, friends and family who have been affected by prostate cancer, will ride from Odgen Point to the Viscount Aero Centre by the Victoria airport to raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer.

“Prostate cancer is still one of these diseases that not a lot of men are comfortable talking openly about, but it’s a disease that’s affecting a lot of men in our community,” said Leanne Kopp, executive director of the Island Prostate Centre, estimating more than 800 men on Vancouver Island were affected by a diagnosis of prostate cancer last year.

“By men sharing their own stories, it allows men to say ‘we’re good to talk about this, it’s nothing we should be afraid of’. Let’s start talking about it.”

Kopp expects between 300 to 400 men and families will participate in the ride. The goal is to raise $75,000.

The funds raised go towards local research initiatives and to the Island Prostate Centre to help fund support programs and Men’s Health Day, where they provide free PSA tests to men in the community.

The ride begins at 10 a.m. at Ogden Point on Sunday, May 29 and is follow by a barbecue lunch and live entertainment at the Viscount Aero Centre. For more information visit viridetolive.ca.