John Sowik

John Sowik

Stepping out to help fight prostate cancer

Chilliwack is hosting its first Father's Day Walk/Run for Prostate Cancer on June 17 at Vedder Trail.

John Sowik credits his wife for saving his life.

Without her, he would never have requested a PSA test, would never have connected the hot poker pains in his calves to prostate cancer, would never have even thought he, a relatively young 46-year-old, could have prostate cancer.

Neither would his doctor.

“She saved my life,” Sowik said.

In 2010, Sowik had been riddled with excruciating calf pains. His doctor thought it could be a pinched nerve, and sent him to a neurologist. He was also sent for blood work to rule out any cholesterol or electrolyte issues.

But when his wife, Elaine, who was then his girlfriend, described the situation to her co-workers, one suggested Sowik get a PSA blood test.

PSA tests are prostate-specific antigen tests that uncover protein irregularities in the prostate gland.

Sowik wanted nothing to do with it.

“I immediately thought of the digital [rectal] exam; I did not want to be waiting for him to get the gloves on,” said Sowik. “I mean, come on, I was only 46.”

Prostate cancer is more commonly diagnosed in men over the age of 50.

But Elaine would not let it go. She harped on him everyday until he relented.

When Sowik finally requested the PSA, his doctor looked at him and said, “Why?”

It’s reactions like that, that have Sowik lacing up his shoes on June 17 for Chilliwack’s first Fathers’ Day Walk in support of prostate cancer.

“We’ve got to get the awareness out there,” Sowik said. “I tell everybody my story, and if I can get one guy to go and get tested, it’s worth it.”

In Canada, it’s estimated over one million men have prostate cancer, and approximately one in six men will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime, making it the second leading cause of cancer death in Canadian men.

While it’s believed approximately 90 per cent of cases can be cured with early detection, prostate cancer awareness is still lacking, and men are still shying away from getting pre-screened.

Sowik’s test results showed his PSA levels were at 11; normal range for a guy his age is 1.5. A digital rectal exam found a nodule on the right side of his prostate. The urologist was 75 per cent sure it was cancer.

“When you get that word, it’s cancer, everything stops,” said Sowik. “Your future, gone. All you can think of is the next couple months. What will the diagnosis be? What will the outcome of the surgery be?”

Still, it’s better than the alternative.

Sowik’s urologist asked him why he requested the PSA. When he told him it was to appease Elaine, the urologist flat out told him, “”Your girlfriend may have just saved your life.”

If Sowik had waited until he was 50 or 55 to get the test, “it may have been too late,” the cancer would likely have broken free of the prostate and spread to his bones and elsewhere.

Sowik had the prostate removed on April 19, 2010. Last July, he underwent radiation therapy when his PSA levels started creeping up again.

For the past year, he’s been getting PSA tests every three months to monitor his levels. Come July, if everything comes back clear, he’ll only need to get the PSA tests every six months for the next two years.

If no abnormalities show on the PSA for five years, he’ll be considered cure.

It’s no wonder he and Elaine were married a couple months after the prostate was removed.

“My wife saved my life. The PSA saved my life.”


The 5 km Fathers’ Day Walk/Run is on June 17 along the Vedder Trail starting at 9:30 a.m.

Registration is $35 and can be done online at, or on the day of the run at 8 a.m. at the ASU, located on Keith Wilson and Korea Road.

Registration fees will be waived for anyone who raises $125 or more.

Just Posted

Rachel is a six month old Labrador retriever cross who was found at large. She is seen here at the Chilliwack SPCA on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Find Me My Furever Home – Rachel at the Chilliwack SPCA

6-month-old puppy found at large, now at Chilliwack SPCA, needs special home

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Volunteers will gather at South Gate Shopping Centre on Fathers Day before fanning out to help clean up downtown Chilliwack. (Facebook photo)
Kindness Chain Chilliwack Association organizes Fathers Day cleanup

Volunteers will spend 90 minutes fanning out to gather trash in downtown Chilliwack

Folks look through some of the items for sale during the Voice of Hope giant garage sale at 7350 Barrow Rd. in Chilliwack on Saturday, June 19, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Giant garage sale today in Chilliwack supports Kenyan widows, orphans

Funds go to Chilliwack-based Voice of Hope charity to improve quality of life for impoverished Kenyans

Ben Holwerda of the Chilliwack Spartan Swim Club competes in a swim meet at the Landing Leisure Centre on Feb. 12, 2011. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Chilliwack Landing Leisure Centre to close temporarily for scheduled maintenance

Pools, steam room, and sauna at Landing Leisure Centre closing for maintenance July 19 to Sep. 4

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Surrey Fire Service battled a dock fire along the Fraser River late Friday night (June 18). It was on Musqueam Drive, near Industrial Road, around 10:45 p.m. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
VIDEO: Fire engulfs pier on Surrey side of the Fraser River

Dock has reportedly been unused for a long time

People in Metro Vancouver can expect to experience a short wave of heat just in time for Father’s Day, according to Environment Canada. (Black Press Media files)
Short-lived heatwave headed for Metro Vancouver this weekend

Temperatures are expected to be up to 10 degrees higher than average Sunday and Monday

Most Read