Washougal mayor fights prostate cancer

Sean Guard hopes other men will get their PSA levels checked

Washougal Mayor Sean Guard has been holding some city staff meetings at his house since he underwent prostate cancer surgery.

The operation, which took more than six hours, was conducted Feb. 17.

Since then, Guard has gone to City Hall for short meetings and paperwork.

“The timing of the surgery allowed for proper planning for it,” he said Monday.

Guard, 51, was diagnosed in October.

He said the cancer was not caught through simple digital exams as part of his annual physical.

“It was only caught with an additional PSA blood test,” Guard said. “I’m glad they do one each year on me. They have since age 40.

“Once the PSA was known to be elevated, I also had a biopsy done which revealed the cancer,” he added.

Guard said it will be at least a couple of months, with further PSA screenings, before his doctor knows whether the prostate cancer is gone.

“If all is well, my PSA should now be zero,” he said. “If it is any other number, that is an indication that they did not get all of the prostate or that [the cancer] had traveled outside of the prostate gland itself.”

Chemotherapy is not a treatment for prostate cancer, but the implanting of radioactive ‘seeds’ can be done in some cases, according to Guard.

His father, George Guard, was diagnosed and had his prostate removed in his 60’s.

The direct family history of prostate cancer is the reason Guard has had annual screenings. He has also had two skin cancers — a melanoma a decade ago and a basel cell cancer nine years ago.

Guard is hoping the media coverage about his surgery will encourage more men to get checked for prostate cancer.

“It is not about sympathy or ‘oh, poor me,’” he said. “I am fairly healthy with no symptoms, and I get checked every year. The ‘normal’ things men do to get checked showed that my prostate was fine as well. Without the PSA screening, it may have been caught much later and my entire outlook would be different.

“Medicine is not what men remember from a few years ago, and yet men seem to want to think these things are not to be talked about or shared,” Guard added.