Competition in the “Beat the Dean” pushup competition at Mount Sinai Hospital was fierce yesterday. The event was part of Prostate Awareness Month.  Photo by Ugonma Ubani-Ebere

 

Dennis Charney, 64, was in a plank position, bending his arms and lowering his body over and over. It was a push up competition and he was the man to be beat. The crowd clapped, cheered and yelled for more. His legs shook and his arms quivered, but he pushed himself up once more before collapsing. The number to beat was 106 if you wanted to “Beat the Dean” the name of this unorthodox Prostate Cancer Awareness Month event yesterday at Mount Sinai Hospital on the Upper East Side.

Charney is the Dean of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, and while others tried to beat his number, faculty and students promoted awareness of the diseases.

“In men, prostate cancer is the most common cancer,” he said. “As you get older, the risk of developing prostate cancer is 1in 6. So one of the messages at this event is for men to get their prostate checked at the age of risk, to ensure they don’t have cancer.”

More than 30 men and women lined up to participate in the free competition to beat Charney. Some men flexed their muscles as they challenged their friends. Others just wanted to give it their best shot.

Torrence Wilson, 39, from the Bronx, was pushed by his coworkers to participate. The event was as an eye opener for him to get ready for prostate cancer testing.

“I haven’t been checked for prostate cancer yet”, said Wilson. “But trust me, my physician reminded me that I am turning 40 next year, and that the time is coming. Am I nervous? Yes, and I’m not looking forward to it.”

Faculty and volunteers smiled and mingled as they passed out fliers and gifts to guest and visitors. While some participated in the competition, others informed guests about prostate cancer, and what they or a loved one could do to prevent it.

Jillian Capodice, 38, a faculty member at the Department of Urology, stood by her table greeting and educating guests wanting more information on preventing prostate cancer.

Jillian Capodice, 38, a faculty member at the Department of Urology, stood by her table greeting guests and giving information on prostate cancer prevention. Capodice's goal was to educate men on keeping and maintaining a healthy life. Photo by Ugonma Ubani-Ebere

Jillian Capodice, 38, a faculty member at the Department of Urology, stood by her table greeting guests and giving information on prostate cancer prevention. Capodice’s goal was to educate men on keeping and maintaining a healthy life. Photo by Ugonma Ubani-Ebere

“For prevention, men should start getting screened with a PSA blood test,” she said.  “They should get a rectal exam about the age of 50. If they have a family history or are African American, they should get tested a little younger.”

According to the National Cancer Institute, African-American males are more likely to get prostate cancer, and die from it as well.
A few tables down, Shari Cave, 23, a New Zealand native now living in Manhattan, volunteered by passing out materials and cheering on the competitors. Cave, coming from New Zealand, stressed the importance of not only getting tested, but talking about the issue as well.

“New Zealand has high rates of prostate cancer and bowel cancer”, said Cave. “So I think that the same thing needs to be employed here, by making it a conversation piece so that men aren’t embarrassed to share their experiences, and won’t feel alone.”

As the event rounded up, Dr. Ash Tewari,55, the chairman at the Department of Urology was still lingering around and socializing. Tewari who specializes in researching and treating prostate cancer, stressed the importance of exercise, specifically the importance of pushups.
“Pushups are a symbolism for exercise,” he said. “It is an exercise that can be done anywhere and doesn’t require equipment. Pushups are a method used to increase muscle mass to make men healthy, and that’s why it was the exercise of choice today.”

No one beat Charney’s score, but lots of information was given to help beat prostrate cancer.

”If we don’t bring awareness to prostate cancer, we lose men”, said Tewari. “Every hour we lose about three to four men to prostate cancer.”