In This Issue: Movember Things To Do ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ This is kind of personal but I am going to share it with you anyway. As you know, this month has been labelled 'Movember' over recent years in a world wide effort to draw attention to men's health and particularly to the issues surrounding prostate cancer. The idea is for men to grow a moustache and raise money for cancer research. I am not growing a moustache as the last time I tried it grew in red and thin - you could hardly see it. In short, it looked stupid. So, I am telling you this story instead. In early May, after extensive medical tests, an urologist told me that I had prostate cancer. I was the most surprised guy on earth as there had been no symptoms. None. The cancer had not advanced so far that dramatic action was required but it was serious enough that he recommended that I take one of two actions: radiation or radical prostate surgery. After some debate and discussion with loved ones, I decided that surgery was my best bet. On June 13th I went to Toronto East General hospital and was released two days later. Everyone seemed to want to know how long recovery would take. That is a hard one to answer as one person's 'recovery' is not the same as the next guy. If we use a golf swing, however bad in my case, as the litmus test for 'recovery' the answer is 6 to 8 weeks. I recovered right on schedule. I am a lucky one. Or a smart one, depending on how you look at it. Many people have slapped me on the back and exclaimed, "Good for you for going to the doctor and taking care of yourself." Like 'taking care of myself' is some kind of accomplishment. Well, I have hung around the men's change room at my local fitness club for over 30 years now and I actually understand what the back slapping is about: men hate talking about health issues. We would rather discuss recent sports scores and the weather than something as personal as our prostate. So going to the doctor is something that men often put off, as if delaying an 'annual' physical will somehow make the experience more joyful when it finally happens. But get an 'annual' physical I did. And here is the nut of the thing: my doctor said that my PSA (the common measure of prostate) was a very acceptable 2.1. Generally a number below 4 is acceptable. However, he added, "It is my job to make sure that you are healthy so I am sending you to an urologist. Three years ago your PSA was 1.0 and I don't like how it has moved up so quickly." Off I went to the urologist. And now you know the rest of the story. On July 25 I went to see the surgeon/urologist for my post-operation checkup. He looked me in the eye with a broad smile told me that my PSA was 0 and that the cancer had not 'marginalized'. In other words it had not moved beyond the tissue of the prostate itself or metastasized. It was contained. This, of course, was the good news that I was hoping to hear. I had a hard time wiping the smile off of my face. For many other men there is no smile and the news is not so good. Statistically, over 4,000 men die of prostate cancer in Canada each year. I have heard it said that most every man will develop prostate cancer at some point in his life. I have heard others say, "Well, you have to die from something." Both of these sentiments are dangerous as they can lead the procrastinators to only procrastinate more. I am 57 years old. I am young, according to my doctor. Had I left my situation for another 3 to 5 years it 'may not have been operable'. From his mouth to God's ears. I am a deeply grateful, fortunate and lucky cancer survivor. If you know a man who is putting off until tomorrow a decision to get checked out, please pass this message on to him. If just one guy sees his doctor and catches prostate cancer early I will have accomplished much more here than I would have by growing a no-see-um moustache. Affectionately yours, Mark ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Things To Do in Your Garden in Movember: With apologies to my western subscribers who have already experienced significant snowfall and cold temperatures. If the snow is not too deep you can get out there and perform some of these tasks. Or do nothing and hope for the best. Our 'winterizing' activities in the garden are an insurance policy against the worst possible weather. Put another way, NOT protecting your garden is a gamble that the almanac is wrong and that winter will never come. Not a typical 'Canadian' winter anyway. Here goes: - Wrap upright cedars, junipers and other upright growing evergreens with two layers of burlap. At Home Hardware we developed a unique method of wrapping evergreens using a method that is similar to that of wrapping a bandage on a broken limb. Look for the 'bandage burlap wrap' item # 5094-519. It is a Mark's Choice product. - Mound triple mix or clean top soil over the root zone of tender roses (not shrub roses as they are 'winter hardy'). Hybrid tea, floribunda, grandiflora and miniature roses all need this insulation to prevent damage due to the freeze/thaw cycles. - Wrap fruit tree trunks, including crabapples, with a plastic spiral wrap to prevent mice, rat and rabbit damage. When the girth of your trees is greater than a 8 cm or 3 inch diameter you no longer have to do this as the mature bark will have lost its appeal to neighbourhood rodents. - Apply Wiltpruf to all broadleafed evergreens including blue holly, mahonia, taxus yews), boxwood and especially rhododendrons. This invisible coating prevents desiccation of the moisture-bound leaves during our extremely dry winter weather. (Good news. My friends at Home Hardware tell me they will have WiltPruf available within the next couple of weeks. You can order it through your local Home Hardware store. They will need the item# 5097-806, 14oz size and 5097-815, 950ml size.) - If you still have un-raked leaves, be sure to put them on your garden and not in bags and out for pick up at the end of your driveway. Worms will pull the leaves into the soil and add much needed nutrition to the soil next spring. Oak leaves should be mulched with your lawn mower before you put them on the garden. - Cut down tall growing perennials that will blow down during the winter and leave your hydrangeas standing over the winter. Prune down come April. (Yea! Something NOT to do!) - Fertilize your lawn one more time. I leave the CIL Golfgreen Fall Lawn Fertilizer application as late as I can. It is the most important application of the year. - Change the oil in your power mower, clean the cutting deck and spray oil on it, disconnect the spark plug and wipe down the body before putting it away for the winter. - Put your Halloween pumpkin in the garden where Mother Nature will take good care of it: frost will 'melt' it into the soil. Or cut it up and turn it under the soil to get it out of site. Good for your soil. - Plant tulips. There are some great deals in the stores right now! - Breathe deep the last, moist, cool, crisp days of autumn. Hold the memory for 4 months. Maybe 5.