Former U.S. Rep. Mike Ross and his wife, Holly, are chairing this year's Blue Ribbon Bash for the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation for personal reasons.
Mike's father, Gene Ross of Prescott and Little Rock, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012. Now 80, Gene Ross has been cancer free for six years. Mike attributes that to early detection.
Holly's stepfather, Roby Farrar of Texarkana, also was diagnosed with prostate cancer and also beat it -- thanks again to early detection. She also has an uncle in Louisiana who successfully battled prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in Arkansas men. Lung cancer is the leading cause.
"The reason it is the second leading cause of death is those who don't get checked," Mike says.
Bill Johnson, director of development and media relations for the foundation, says the prostate cancer check is a simple blood test. But he says typical blood tests do not include testing for prostate cancer -- that's a test that must be requested.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 1,260 men in Arkansas will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year. And 280 Arkansas men are expected to die from it this year. Of these, more than two times as many black men will die as white men.
"Two hundred and eighty men will needlessly die in Arkansas this year just because they didn't take a test," Mike says.
Since he has a history of prostate cancer in his family, Mike says he has annual tests.
The Rosses owned a pharmacy in Prescott, which they sold in 2007. During her days at the pharmacy, Holly says, many men did not want to see a doctor much less go in for annual tests.
"They come to the pharmacy and want medical help and a lot of times, women will come in and say 'My husband has got this, this and this,'" she says. "They need to go to the emergency room if they are having chest pains. 'Oh, he will never go to the hospital.' Men do not want medical help. They do not seek medical help like women do."
"Men tend to not want to go to the doctor and they tend to wait until it's gotten to the point that it is more difficult to treat," he says. "If checked early, the survival rate is nearly 100 percent."
To increase awareness, the Rosses are co-sponsoring the foundation's Blue Ribbon Bash -- A Night of Blue Ribbons and Jazz fundraiser. It will be Thursday at Chenal Country Club. A VIP reception begins at 6 p.m. and the main event starts at 6:30. Individual tickets are $125. Prostate survivor individual tickets are $100. A few tickets and table packages are still available.
Joel Anderson, chancellor emeritus of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, is the night's honoree. Anderson, who retired as UALR chancellor in 2016, is a prostate cancer survivor.
"He has done so much for that university and for this entire community," says Mike, a UALR graduate.
"You look at what UA Little Rock looked like before he became chancellor -- it's night and day and it's really gone from being perceived as a junior college or community college or commuter school to a full-blown four year university right here in Little Rock," Mike adds.
Christina Munoz Madsen will serve as emcee. State Sen. Bruce Maloch of Magnolia will serve as the auctioneer.
The live auction includes an Arkansas River yacht cruise and dinner for 12; a 7-night stay at a three-bedroom condo on Grand Cayman Island; and a Costa Rica vacation at a five-bedroom mountain house with infinity pool.
A silent auction features eight "bucket list" trips including the Isle of Capri, the Greek Islands, Ireland, San Francisco, Tuscany and France. All trips are for two and include round-trip transportation. The silent-auction trips were supplied by the foundation's auction partner AmFund.
More information about the Blue Ribbon Bash or the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation can be found at arprostatecancer.org or by calling (501) 379-8027.
Holly and Mike Ross are co-chairmen of this week’s Blue Ribbon Bash for the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation. Both have family members who beat prostate cancer and want to spread the word about early detection.
High Profile on 09/02/2018
Print Headline: Bash benefits prostate cancer fund