Sometimes personal life experiences can inspire big ideas. That’s definitely the case with Gabe Canales, whose own prostate cancer diagnosis led to the founding of his nonprofit organization Blue Cure, and ultimately his book, Unexpected Diagnosis: Prostate Cancer and the Wake-Up Call to Live Healthier and Happier (Simon & Schuster, 2022).
“In 2010, at age 35, I was diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer,” says Gabe, now a cancer awareness activist. “I had no symptoms and no family history of cancer.”
The diagnosis came as a surprise. However, Gabe’s family has a history of diet-related diseases, including obesity, heart disease and hypertension. He says he did have high cholesterol and high body fat leading up to his diagnosis, and his diet included lots of alcohol, fast food and red meat.
The good news for Gabe came when he saw a urologist who explained that making significant changes to his diet and lifestyle could slow the progression of his prostate cancer, which was in the early stages. But what struck Gabe about this news was that he saw four urologists before this appointment, and none of the other practitioners made the connection between cancer and lifestyle.
This was a pivot point for Gabe. It inspired him to seek out additional experts and continue to learn about the power of lifestyle interventions to slow, prevent, and in some cases, reverse disease.
Gabe Canales founded Blue Cure in 2010 to raise awareness of prostate cancer among younger men and educate the public on lifestyle choices to prevent and treat the disease. He has spent over a decade traveling the country to share his journey and the power of lifestyle changes. He recorded a TEDx talk, has been featured in Forbes and has presented his story at an AICR Conference, since his advice aligns with AICR’s Cancer Prevention Recommendations.
Gabe has lived with early-stage prostate cancer for 13 years and hopes the lifestyle changes he’s made continue to keep his prostate cancer at bay. Gabe is an advocate for:
- Eating plant-based foods
- Getting daily movement
- Managing stress
- Getting adequate sleep
- Following up with doctors
- Getting regular screenings
- Knowing your numbers for blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and body fat
Gabe says that getting emails and social media messages from strangers who have been positively impacted continues to keep him inspired. “Often, I have wondered whether I am helping people,” he says. “Receiving messages from men and their loved ones across America, and as far away as Australia, lifts me up and keeps me going.”
In addition to Blue Cure, Gabe also refers his followers to AICR’s website because “it is a credible and renowned organization that funds research focusing on how nutrition and lifestyle affect the prevention, treatment and survival of cancer.” Gabe is optimistic that organizations like AICR and Blue Cure are creating a sea change. He’s seen an evolution in public awareness around nutrition and lifestyle as they relate to cancer risk. “In 2010, none of the prostate cancer nonprofit organizations I researched had dietary and lifestyle recommendations on their websites,” says Gabe. “Their social media didn’t post information on diet and lifestyle.”
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If you share our passion for cancer prevention and quality survivorship, we would love to hear from you. Whatever your experience has been — whether you are a patient, caregiver, or loved one — AICR would be happy to add your story to this tapestry.