After being diagnosed with prostate cancer at 40, John Mann spreads awareness and hope.
John Mann is a dedicated musician and avid bow hunter.
His contradictory passions are reflected in his music studio, which is
often described as hippie-meets-hunter. Known as the Dawg House, the studio
is outfitted with a bearskin rug and other pelts from animals John has
taken down with his bow.
On Friday nights, you can find him in the Dawg House playing music with
his friends. The longstanding jam session starts after work and continues
until no one is able hold their eyes open.
Married for 20 years, John also enjoys fishing, hiking, downhill skiing
and electric mountain bikes.
“If I have an hour off, I’m using it for something,”
John said. “No one has to tell a cancer survivor to use their days
While many men feel comfortable recounting the details of their latest
sporting accident or the last time they pulled a hook fishing, cancer
remains a taboo subject. Especially prostate cancer — the second
most common cancer among American men, and one of the most private.
Not John. Diagnosed with prostate cancer when he was 40-years-old, John
has made it his mission to spread awareness of the disease that strikes
at the heart of masculinity.
“Guys aren’t comfortable talking about health issues, let alone
a health issue that can steal your masculinity, “he said. “There
just doesn’t seem to be the awareness of prostate cancer.”
Prostate Cancer: When to See a Urologist
The prostate is a small gland that is part of the male reproductive system.
It is responsible for secreting prostate fluid, a component of seminal
fluid, and helps propel fluid into the urethra.
Located below the bladder, the walnut-sized gland also produces an enzyme
called prostate specific antigen (PSA), which can be used to detect prostate
cancer. PSA may be elevated in cases of prostate cancer, enlarged prostate
or inflamed or infected prostate.
Other symptoms of prostate cancer can include frequent urination, weak
or interrupted urine and blood in the urine.
John had none of those symptoms. After developing pain in his groin area,
John scheduled an appointment with Dr. Gary Gingrich, founder of Gorge
Urology, a clinic at Mid-Columbia Medical Center.
“I knew down deep that some-thing was wrong,” he said.
The pain proved to be due to a hernia, which was successfully repaired,
but during the evaluation, Dr. Gingrich became concerned that John may
have silent prostate cancer.
It was nearly 8 p.m. when John received the call that changed his life,
and possibly saved it.
“Gary called me at home,” John said. “He said, ‘John,
I don’t know why but I can’t get you off my mind. I think
you should come back for a biopsy.’”
The warning from Dr. Gingrich was clear: “If I can’t sleep
about this, you shouldn’t be able to sleep either.”
After Prostate Cancer: “Life has been very, very good to me”
During John’s biopsy, eight samples were removed from his prostate.
All eight samples came back positive for cancer, which was unusual in
a man John’s age. The risk of developing prostate cancer increases
with age, and the average age of diagnosis is about 66-years-old.
“I will never forget the day Dr. Gingrich called me,” John
said. “It was about 11 a.m. He cancelled his personal plans and
we met. We talked for two and a half or three hours.”
John was not comforted by their discussion. Married with a two-year-old
son, and faced with a life-threatening disease, it was impossible to find comfort.
But after leaving the doctor’s office, he was well informed about
his treatment options and felt very comfortable in his decision to have
Dr. Gingrich perform his surgery, a radical prostatectomy to remove his
“Doctors today are so busy, “John said. “When Dr. Gingrich
knew I needed time, he cancelled his personal plans just to talk to me.
It was phenomenal.”
John was out of work for about a month after the surgery. It was a difficult
process, physically and psychologically. In facing prostate cancer, especially
as a young man, he fought a painful battle.
But John is one of the lucky ones. He has been cancer free for 17 years
and has experienced nonnegative side effects from surgery.
Not all men get that lucky. But when a young man with prostate cancer wants
to discuss the diagnosis with someone who has been there, Dr. Gingrich
often places them in touch with John for a candid conversation.
“I spend an hour or two telling them how it went for me,” he
said. “Only good has happened to me since that surgery. Life has
been very, very good to me.”