Men can be stubborn about their health, says Sarpy County Board member Gary Mixan.

But he would like to see that change, especially when it comes to preventive care. He routinely gets physicals and talks to his doctor about concerns, which led to an early diagnosis of prostate cancer this year, even though he had no physical warnings.

“There are not signs,” he said. “I had no idea I had anything starting to go wrong.”

Early warning signs for prostate cancer aren’t common, according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Tumors in the walnut-sized organ don’t press against anything to cause pain. That’s why early screening is so important.

“If you catch this stuff early, you have a very good chance of just taking care of it and moving on and being cancer-free,” Mixan said.

He wants more men to follow his lead. It may be convenient to ignore one’s health if nothing feels off, Mixan said, but consistent medical care and communication with doctors is important for long-term health.

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Mixan, 61, began receiving tests for the disease about two years ago, but doctors first became concerned in the spring. His urologist offered two options for further exploration: a biopsy, an invasive procedure that involves taking tissue samples; or an MRI scan, which would be more expensive but would give his medical team better insight.

Mixan chose the MRI at his doctor’s encouragement. “He said, ‘I will have so much more information instead of just going in and doing the biopsy blind,’ ” Mixan said.

After his MRI in early summer, doctors performed a biopsy, using the results of the scan to determine the tissue that should be collected.

Surgeons at Methodist Hospital removed his prostate on a Monday morning in late September. He was out of the hospital by Tuesday afternoon. His recovery period, which included physical therapy, lasted about six weeks. During that time, he couldn’t lift more than a gallon of milk.

Getting his prostate removed and going through the healing process wasn’t easy, Mixan said, but it was preferable to the alternative.

“I would just tell people: Don’t procrastinate,” Mixan said. “Go in because what they do, whatever you have to go through … that’s really small potatoes compared to what can happen to you.”

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Reece covers Sarpy County for The World-Herald. He's a born-and-raised Nebraskan and UNL grad who spent time in Oklahoma and Virginia before returning home. Follow him on Twitter @reecereports. Phone: 402-444-1127

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