Port Huron prostate cancer survivor and twin brother to sing national anthem at Tigers game

When Port Huron resident Brian Ake learned he had prostate cancer while on a family camping trip in August 2019, a flood of emotions washed over him and his family: shock , fear, nervousness.

“Anytime you hear a report that someone has the ‘C’ word, as we call it, it’s never good,” said Bruce Ake, Brian’s twin brother.

Today, after undergoing radiotherapy, Brian Ake celebrates his remission.

On Thursday, he opened up about his diagnosis as the two brothers practiced singing the national anthem at Colonial Woods Missionary Church, where they work as associate pastors, ahead of a performance at Comerica Park.

Brain Ake (left) and his twin brother Bruce Ake (right) sing the national anthem during a rehearsal at Colonial Woods Mission Church in Port Huron Thursday, July 21, 2022. The twin brothers will sing the anthem national at Tiger's Stadium on Monday night for the annual Prostate Cancer Awareness Night sponsored by McLaren Health Care and the Karmanos Cancer Institute.  Brian is a prostate cancer survivor.

Brian and Bruce Ake will sing the Prostate Cancer Awareness Night Anthem at Comerica Park before the Detroit Tigers game on Monday. The event is sponsored by the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and McLaren Health Care.

The Tigers will host hundreds of prostate cancer survivors for their game against the San Diego Padres. The survivors will be honored on the field in a pre-game ceremony, during which a Karmanos patient will throw the ceremonial first pitch, according to a press release from the Karmanos Cancer Institute.

Brain Ake (left) and his twin brother Bruce Ake (right) sing the national anthem during a rehearsal at Colonial Woods Mission Church in Port Huron Thursday, July 21, 2022. The twin brothers will sing the anthem national at Tiger's Stadium on Monday night for the annual Prostate Cancer Awareness Night sponsored by McLaren Health Care and the Karmanos Cancer Institute.  Brian is a prostate cancer survivor.

Comerica Park will be decorated with blue ribbons to raise awareness for prostate cancer. Three Karmanos patients will share their stories during the game, and disease and prevention information will be available throughout the park, the press release said.

Donations can be made to the Karmanos Cancer Institute when purchasing tickets at mlb.com/tigers. Donations will go to prostate cancer research in Detroit.

Early detection is the key to good results

Brian Ake was first diagnosed in August 2019 and underwent radiotherapy in February and March 2021.

The brothers’ father and uncle both died of prostate cancer and other family members were diagnosed with the disease. Brian Ake therefore knew that it was important to get checked every year.

Brian Ake’s cancer was detected in the early stages of the disease, which gave him a good prognosis.

“I’m really glad it was early detection, really grateful,” he said.

Dr. Matthew Johnson, a radiation oncologist at the Karmanos Institute in McLaren Port Huron, said annual screenings are an important prevention tool recommended for all men between the ages of 55 and 70. Some men should start screenings before age 55 if they are black or have a family history of the disease, or continue screenings after age 70 if they are healthy.

When caught early, the disease can usually be cured with radiation therapy or surgery to remove the prostate. However, if the disease is discovered at a later stage, it can spread to other areas of the body and is more likely to be fatal, Johnson said.

Brain Ake, 66, discusses surviving prostate cancer during an interview at Colonial Woods Mission Church in Port Huron Thursday, July 21, 2022. Ake, along with his twin brother Bruce, will sing the national anthem at the Tiger's Stadium on Monday night for the annual Prostate Cancer Awareness Night sponsored by McLaren Health Care and the Karmanos Cancer Institute.  Brian is a prostate cancer survivor.

“Annual screening is a good idea,” Johnson said. “I think it’s very safe and I think we have a lot of tools that, if a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer, helps us figure out who needs treatment, who can be observed and who may need intensification of treatment.”

Johnson said screenings typically consist of a blood test to measure a man’s prostate-specific antigen, a protein that’s elevated in men with prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men, affecting approximately 1 in 8 men during their lifetime. It is also the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, although only 1 in 41 die, according to the Karmanos Institute.

Visit karmanos.org/prostatefacts for more information on prostate cancer.

Contact Laura Fitzgerald at (810) 941-7072 or [email protected]

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