Raising a Beer to Raise Prostate Cancer Awareness


After successful treatment for early-state prostate cancer, Rick Lyke decided to raise awareness of the disease among men by appealing to their interest in beer.

After successful treatment for early-state prostate cancer, Rick Lyke decided to raise awareness of the disease among men by appealing to their interest in beer.

Pints for Prostates, a nonprofit organization that helps raise prostate cancer awareness at events across the country dedicated to the enjoyment of beer, was started by Rick Lyke, a marketing executive and freelance beer writer, after he was treated for early-stage prostate cancer.

Lyke was convinced to receive the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test by a friend and coworker who had been diagnosed with the disease at a late stage.

“I was 47, I didn’t have any symptoms, any family history, anything that would normally cause you to be concerned at all,” Lyke told Pharmacy Times in a recent interview.

Despite Lyke’s statistically low risk for the disease, his PSA test indicated that something was wrong. He was referred for a biopsy and diagnosed with prostate cancer based on its results. Fortunately, the cancer was found at an early stage, and Lyke was successfully treated through surgery in April 2008.

After completing his treatment, Lyke told all his friends about prostate cancer and the importance of screening. But he wanted to spread the word even farther, and beer, he decided, was the way to do it. “I got to thinking about it and just felt like the beer connection would be an interesting way to get guys’ attention, sort of in a non-threatening way,” he said.

Lyke pitched the idea to some editors he has worked with as a freelancer, and they liked it. Lyke’s firm helped out with logo development and advertising design, and Pints for Prostates was born as a small campaign with a few ads in beer and wine magazines.

“When the ads hit, we started to get calls from around the country from other people who wanted to do events,” Lyke said. “And so, Pints for Prostates kind of accidently became what it is.”

Today, Pints for Prostates works nationwide to raise awareness about the importance of early detection for prostate cancer, attending beer festivals and events with the support of volunteers and brewers across the country. Among the events the organization takes part in each year are the Denver Rare Beer Tasting, the Raleigh Rare and Vintage Beer Tasting, and the Asheville Rare and Wild Beer Tasting. In addition, the organization supplies beer bars and other venues with kits that they can use to hold their own events.

“These events play off the fact that craft beer has become incredible popular in the last decade or so, and there are a number of larger events that take place,” Lyke said.

The Denver Rare Beer Tasting, for example, coincides with the Great American Beer Festival, and Pints for Prostates takes advantage of the large event by holding a rare beer tasting. This year, the organization sold 650 tickets to the tasting, selling out 3 months in advance, but Lyke says he’s less concerned with raising money than he is with raising awareness.

“We’re really happy that we sell tickets,” he said. “But what we’re really trying to do is reach guys through the universal language of beer and get them to stop and think for a moment about the importance of getting screened.”

Lyke delivers his prostate cancer message primarily to middle-aged men he meets at beer festivals. These men approach his booth, confused by the lack of beer on the table, and walk away with valuable information that could help save their lives. Lyke says that he often meets men with a family history of prostate cancer who are unaware they are at increased risk for the disease, and he takes particular care to ensure these men leave with informational materials.

Lyke hopes to help make men just as aware of prostate cancer as women are of breast cancer.

“I started this thing by saying that guys were about 30 years behind women when it came to their health,” he said. “And so what we hope to do is to get guys to wake up and take charge of their health.”

For more information on Pints for Prostates, visit http://www.pintsforprostates.org/.

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