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Archive for Friday, April 4, 2008

Wellness fair may have saved life

April 4, 2008

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— A year ago, Dan Harris' life changed.

He was attending the annual Community Wellness Festival at Baker University, as he had for several years. One of the blood tests he took alerted Harris to call his doctor in Lawrence.

It was the prostate-specific antigen test.

"The PSA measures the changes in the prostate, especially for cancerous cells," said Harris, Baker University athletic director. "Men over 40 need to do that. Mine was normally around 1.8 or 2.1, which is pretty normal and pretty consistent. Then one lovely Saturday morning, a year ago, I got a prostate assessment of 7.4."

A cancer specialist in Lawrence ran further tests and then delivered the news.

"He looked me straight in the eye and said, 'Dan, you have cancer,'" Harris said. "I had a father who I watched wither away and die of lung cancer."

But Harris' story ends well because that routine blood work at the wellness festival could have saved his life.

Harris and a specialist at the Kansas University Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., decided Harris' prostate should be removed.

"I had the surgery and I've done a one-month, three-month and six-month checkup," he said. "All of those tests have been good."

Of course, Harris plans to attend this year's wellness fair, set for 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at Collins Center, Sixth and Fremont streets.

The event, which will feature about 65 exhibitors, is free and open to the public and will include the usual assortment of free health screenings: blood pressure, posture check, body fat, bone density, hearing, vision and lung volume.

The first 200 visitors will receive a T-shirt, and prizes will be awarded, including two children's bicycles and one adult bicycle. Children accompanied by an adult can receive a bicycle helmet.

- Jimmy Gillispie, Baldwin City Signal reporter, can be reached at (785) 594-7080.

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