Metro Vancouver: He has been a key organizer of the event for seventeen years, Len Gross, who battled prostate cancer and survived to fight another day! When doctors spelled it out for him in 1992, his life changed in a blink of an eye. Big plans had to be put on hold, largely because he was suffering psychologically. Then came the physical scars. The Burnaby husband and father had surgery that left him permanently impotent.
It also left him with a “stress incontinence issue” that requires him to wear protective pads because of leakage.
However, he did not let this horrible cancer defeat him. Out of this hardship grew a desire to help other men. He rolled up his sleeves and got to work. He was a founding member and is now a board member of the Prostate Cancer Foundation B.C. He is also one of the founders of the Canadian Prostate Cancer Network, leader of the Vancouver prostate cancer support group, chairman of its speakers group and, at 81, he still takes part in the annual Father’s Day walk/run around Burnaby Lake to raise funds for prostate cancer research and support.
Since the inception of the walk 17 years ago, Len Gorss has been heading the organization himself, but he will now pass on the torch to young Kevin Tam, a research scientist with the Vancouver Prostate Centre.
The walk/run has been able to raise a staggering $2 million over the years and brought many families together in the natural setting to celebrate the men in their lives. Gross said supporting other men facing the life-changing disease has helped him see the brighter side of his own life.
He always counts his blessings and fortunately, his cancer hasn’t recurred. Other men, particularly those with a late diagnosis, aren’t so lucky. Some become completely incontinent. And he has seen men who — on top of the physical scars — have had to deal with the emotional trauma of losing their wives because of their impotence.
He refers to his wife Lorna as “my confidante and my supporter,” as she stood by him through the toughest days of his life despite facing ups and downs.
Referrring to the issue of impotence that changed his marriage, he explained, “It certainly made life a bit of a problem initially to try and make adjustments for the condition I was in, but we were able to cope with that satisfactorily and we are happy together. We support each other and we rely on each other heavily for whatever. We do everything together.”