For more than 36 years, the residents of Fort Wayne have watched newscaster Kent Hormann from the comfort of their homes. Through his upbeat personality and talent for conducting thoughtful interviews, he’s reached our community professionally for decades. But it was an unexpected health scare that helped him connect with the community on a more personal level. Here, he shares his experience with prostate cancer and why he’s made it his mission to help educate other men about the importance of the yearly checkup through his annual golf tournament, The Blue Ball Open.
I am a lifelong resident of Fort Wayne. I was actually born at Parkview Hospital Randallia. But I’ve never considered myself a public figure. I mean, a lot of people knew me growing up, and they know me now because, as a reporter, the television is the conduit through which I do my job and communicate with people. I’ve always just felt lucky to work in my hometown, in an exciting field like broadcast media, with its versatility. Every day is different, and sometimes we get it right.
One perk of this job is that we’re invited to a lot of events, including, in the spring and summer, a lot of golf tournaments. In 2010, I’d reached the point in my career where I wanted to give back. I thought maybe I could pull off my own golf tournament. So, seven years ago, I introduced The Blue Ball Open. Vera Bradley was doing so much for women’s health, and I wanted to support men. I’d heard that prostate cancer was one of the most easily detected, therefore easily treated cancers. They say if you see your 70s, you’ll likely get it. If you see your 80s, you’ll definitely get it. Many men make it to their later decades never knowing they had it, as they succumb to some other illness. But about 240,000 people will lose their life to prostate cancer and often, it could have been prevented.
Little did I know, all of this was about to hit a lot closer to home.
In 2011, I had a routine physical. I was in the best shape of life, training for my first half marathon. My physician told me, “You’re in great shape, but your PSA (prostate-specific antigen) is a little higher than I’d like. You’d make me feel better if you go to the urologist (Rhys Rudolph, MD, PPG–Urology) to do a biopsy.” So I did. I knew the drill. I knew that they had you set up a follow-up appointment to review the results but more often than not, they would call and cancel it when your results came back normal.
But that’s not what happened.
In September 2011, at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon, my phone rang. “Kent, we just wanted to let you know you need to keep your follow-up with Dr. Rudolph on Monday,” the nurse said. They’d found some positives. I was immediately in denial. I just couldn’t believe it. Finally, she said, “You have cancer.” The three words no one wants to hear.
They’d taken 12 samples and I had 3 positives. Dr. Rudolph told me we’d caught it as early as we could, and asked what I wanted to do. I decided to explore surgery, so I set up an appointment to talk to Donald Urban, MD, PPG–Urology. He put me on active surveillance, which meant I went back and they checked my PSA. When they did, it was up to 10. In March 2012, Dr. Urban did another biopsy, and now I had 6 positives. I elected for robotic surgery in mid-July of 2012. It’s really something when you think about everything the da Vinci robotic Surgical System can do and just how far medicine has come. Dr. Urban was sensational. He walked me through every step and it couldn’t have been better. The care I got at the hospital, the whole process. Dr. Urban removed my prostate and a week later, it came back that the cancer was confined to my prostate and my first PSA after surgery was less than 0.
I’m now 5 years cancer free.
When we started the Blue Ball Open, I was so general with the message. But that first year after I was diagnosed, it was different. Now we’re in year 8, and I use this, not only as a fundraiser, but also as a platform. I try to be an ambassador.
I tell everyone I know to get a yearly physical. Men are supposed to include a PSA check in their physical when they hit 40 and definitely at 50, and it amazes me when I tell people to go get the checkup, that they resist. We all think it won’t happen to us, or we feel great so nothing could be wrong. The truth is, prostate cancer doesn’t have any really symptoms until you start to have a problem.
As I knock on doors and shake hands for this outing, I’m always spreading the message of prevention. There are some people who say, “Oh, I’ve been meaning to do that,” but I know that they don’t. There’s always an excuse, but you have to get that yearly physical. It can happen to you.
I hope I live to my Papa’s age of 87 instead of losing my life in my 50s. And now I have that chance.