One man's message to other men: 'Get screened'

A message to men to get screened regularly.

NAMPA - Reginald Epp has worked for Nampa-based nonprofit Mission Aviation Fellowship as a pilot/mechanic since 1985.

"You know, alleviating suffering in different ways, medically, sometimes with famine," said Epp.

In places around the world, including Botswana, Africa, he has flown supplies to missionaries, doctors to remote villages, and patients out of remote villages to hospitals. He has helped save a lot of lives.

"If I go back through my log books, I can find, this woman had labor complications, or this guy was gored by a buffalo," said Epp.

Now Epp, whom most people call "Reg," wants to save more lives by telling the very personal story of the challenge he now faces.

His most recent assignment was in Indonesia. He came back home for a visit last summer and had his yearly screening for prostate cancer. That led to a cancer diagnosis and the removal of his prostate.

"Unfortunately, later on we found it had moved into my pelvis," said Epp.

He says the prognosis isn't good.

"I don't ask a lot of questions, but I do a little reading and the prognosis is about three to five years, somewhere in there," said Epp.

Because of this, he has a straightforward message.

"I would just encourage any man to just get checked as often as you can, even, I don't know, maybe even more than once a year," said Epp.

Reg's urologist at Idaho Urologic Institute is Dr. John Greer. He says Reg did everything right by getting a yearly exam.

"Unfortunately, prostate cancer really can be quite aggressive," said Dr. Greer.

But Dr. Greer says, unlike Reg, many men are not getting screened since recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force came out several years ago. The task force found that the PSA blood test screenings often give false-positives leading to unnecessary follow-up tests and potential complications.

However, Dr. Greer believes the benefits outweigh the risks.

"We are definitely seeing an increase in the number of men that are diagnosed with later stage disease that's more advanced," said Dr. Greer.

Dr. Greer recommends that men should start getting both the PSA blood test and the physical prostate exam every year in their early 50s, and earlier than that if they have a family history of prostate cancer or are African American.

"It's not a big evaluation," said Dr. Greer. "And if we do that we can catch prostate cancer really quite early and the chance of death if prostate cancer is caught very early is very, very low."

Reg Epp is pushing forward. He found a network of support through Idaho2Fly. It is a nonprofit that provides a free weekend of fly fishing and fellowship to men fighting cancer.

"This was like, wow! All these guys, we're in the same sort of deal," said Epp. "And when we left we were kind of like a little family."

He also recently rode his motorcycle in the Blue Ribbon Rally prostate cancer awareness ride with a determination to drive home his message to men: Get screened.

"Yeah, it's not a big deal. Get over it. Do it," said Epp.

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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