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Never mind cancer – he surfed, he skated

Man helped prostate cancer victims

Published: Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014 9:40 a.m. CDT
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(Photo provided)
Russ Gould died in December from prostate cancer, 15 years after his original diagnosis. He became active in causes to help prostate cancer victims.
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Nancy O'Brien

GRAYSLAKE – In 1997, Russ Gould was diagnosed with prostate cancer, informed that he had three years to live.

"He probably thought, 'I'll beat that. I'll show them,'" his daughter, Nancy O'Brien of Grayslake, said.

He did just that. He lived more than 15 years, until age 74.

After his death on Dec. 21, 2013, O'Brien found out about the three-year prognosis when looking through his papers. He kept that secret.

"I don't think he told us about the prognosis because of the person he was," O'Brien said. "He was very positive, had a good outlook on everything."

Gould, a Mount Prospect resident, co-founded the SEA Blue Prostate Cancer Walk/Run a decade ago. This year, it is planned for Sept. 14 in Chicago's Lincoln Park.

The annual event has raised nearly $3 million for prostate cancer awareness in its 10 years, O'Brien said. She has taken part in every one and plans to do so again this year with her two brothers, Scott and Russ, and other family.

Gould's work went much beyond that event.

"Nancy's father literally saved hundreds of lives due to his passion about educating people about prostate cancer," Eve Swire, one of the event's organizers, said in an email.

Until his health took a turn for the worst in 2013, Gould held the paid position of cancer specialist and counselor with Wellness Place in Palatine. He also volunteered for UStoo, an anti-prostate cancer group.

Gould, a plastics engineer, was active. A 2009 Wellness Place story noted that Gould liked to surf and mountain-bike, saying he had just done those things in California.

He also Rollerbladed into his last years.

His biggest goal, O'Brien said, was to support, educate and advocate for those suffering from prostate cancer.

"He always believed in learning as much as you can," his daughter said. "Find the best avenue of treatment for you. He would go through treatment options with men. He told men how they could take care of their lives and advised them on things to ask doctors. He strived to get the message out because men are so private."

The last year has been rough for the family. Less than six weeks before Gould's death, his wife of more than 50 years, Judy Gould, 72, died.

With her voice breaking, O'Brien noted that her father's birthday had just passed.

"He had always said he would do everything in his lifetime to find a cure for prostate cancer, so no one one he knew would die from it," she said.

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