Free annual health screening catches aggressive cancer in 58-year-old man

Holding a football, Bob Gardella, 58, wasn't being dramatic when he claimed he owed his life to it.

"This thing saved my life." he said.

Gardella is a lawyer in Brighton, married with two adult children, and has a family history of cancer.

He also has a history of not visiting the doctor's office.

"I wasn't one of those guys who go to the doctor unless I had illness. I didn't go unless I had a problem." Gardella said.

In 2017, Gardella was inspired to visit the doctor's office. Not to check on his health, but because he watched a FOX 2 report with doctors at Ford Field. Reporter Charlie Langton was covering the MIU Men's Health Event, which leverages Ford Field to attract men to receive free annual health screenings

After the screenings, the attendees had the opportunity to kick field goals.

Gardella became a regular attendee and made it a tradition to visit every year. He would complete the screenings and then try his hand at kicking more field goals each time.

In 2021, Gardella underwent a PSA blood test, a screening tool for prostate cancer. The results showed that his PSA levels had doubled, indicating a potential issue.

After a follow-up visit to his doctor, Gardella received news. He was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer. Among American men, only lung cancer kills more individuals than prostate cancer.

In March 2022, Gardella underwent robotic surgery through his abdomen to have his prostate removed.

 "If they wouldn't have diagnosed this cancer with early detection, I would have died," Gardella says. 

Dr. Michael Lutz, the president of MIU Men's Health Foundation, explains that watching trends when it comes to your health is key. 

"If you're in a high risk group [such as a] firefighter, pilot, [or of] African descent, you should get screened." Lutz said.