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A Second Chance

Cancer survivor spreads awareness of prostate cancer

Ken Parker was ready to start a new career after retiring in December 2010 as an Oakland County Sheriff’s deputy. But life suddenly threw him a curve after he was screened for prostate cancer with a simple Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test.

“I wanted to become a personal trainer,” says Parker, a 60-year-old Royal Oak resident. “Before I could enroll in a personal training certification program, I needed a physical. I didn’t think I had any health issues, but my doctor said my PSA levels were very high. After more tests, one year to the day after retiring, I learned I had a very aggressive form of prostate cancer.”

A surgical oncologist told Parker he needed immediate surgery to remove his prostate gland. He sought a second opinion and went to the Karmanos Cancer Center to meet with Jordan Maier, M.D., radiation oncologist and medical director of Karmanos’ Weisberg Cancer Treatment Center in Farmington Hills.

“Dr. Maier said I had options,” Parker says. “I went through 38 rounds of radiation, followed by 18 months of hormone treatments. My stamina went down, but thankfully, my PSAs returned to normal.”

Parker avoided surgery and is cancer-free today. In October 2012, he began pursuing his goal of becoming a personal trainer. After receiving his certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the National Personal Training Institute, he began working part-time as a certified personal trainer at the South Oakland YMCA in Royal Oak.

During his cancer journey, Parker learned about Karmanos’ Prostate Cancer Advocacy Program (P-CAP), coordinated through the Community Education Department. The organization, with volunteers from Karmanos, the Wayne State University Physicians Group and the American Cancer Society, trains prostate cancer survivors to be patient advocates.

“Cancer education and awareness programs save lives,” says P-CAP member Laura Zubeck, R.N., BSN, MBA/HCA, director of Patient and Community Education and Volunteer Services at Karmanos.  “Our patient advocates speak about prostate cancer screening and prevention at events like our annual Prostate Cancer Symposium. They also distribute educational materials at places like barbershops and churches. We’re spreading the message that prostate cancer can be cured if it’s detected at an early stage.”

Parker says he’s pleased to share his survivor story as a P-CAP patient advocate with newly-diagnosed prostate cancer patients.

“There are ways to work through the disease,” he says. “I’m proof there’s life after a prostate cancer diagnosis.”


Men at increased risk of prostate cancer are:

• African Americans.
• Age 50 or older (45 or older for African Americans).
• Those with a family history of prostate cancer.
• Those with a high-fat diet.

Talk with your physician about the benefits and risks of prostate cancer screening. Consider screening at age 45 if you are at an increased risk and/or African American. Consider screening at age 50 if you are at average risk.

For more information about a cancer diagnosis or treatment, call 1-800-KARMANOS (1-800-527-6266) or visit

© 2014 Karmanos Cancer Institute Pencil
The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Center is accredited by The Joint Commission.
If members of the public have any quality-of-care or safety concerns, they may notify The Joint Commission at 630-792-5800.