Knitting Together Technology, Compassionate Care and Holiday Ornaments, Too

Michael is recently retired and is an active guy who loves to read, golf, play recreational hockey and enjoy brisk walks for exercise with his wife, Ellen, who is also retired and enjoys various interests, one of which is knitting.

Michael has always been conscientious about his annual physical exams but, three years ago, at age 58 and as a result of routine blood work, his doctor found that his prostate-specific antigens (PSAs) were elevated, which prompted a biopsy. He was diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer.

Michael described it as an eye-opening experience and was surprised to learn about how many men, even those in his own circles, didn’t know about the importance of a PSA test and weren’t aware of it being a recommended part of a regular physical.

“I’ve learned that prostate cancer is so common in men—and yet, we don’t seem willing to talk about it,” says Michael. “It’s personal, yes. But it’s only by being open, by encouraging those we love to get tested early on, that we can ensure they have the very best possible chance of catching prostate cancer before it spreads or becomes harder to treat.”

One of the most useful tools to diagnose early prostate cancer is an MRI Fusion Biopsy, which combines the high-resolution imagery of an MRI with the localized diagnostic capabilities of an ultrasound to improve the visibility of suspicious lesions or markings on the prostate. Using an MRI Fusion-guided biopsy is quickly becoming the new standard of care for prostate cancer. It’s now recommended by Cancer Care Ontario because it greatly reduces the number of unnecessary biopsies and surgeries while improving the detection of high-risk cancers.

“Having the capacity to conduct MRI fusion-guided biopsy here at St. Joseph’s is significant. It will allow our care team to see exactly where a patient’s cancer may be. Not only does this technology help pinpoint the tumours in the body, the imaging is so precise that it also helps to identify spots that may be benign from those that are cancerous. All of this leads to better outcomes and fewer invasive tests for the people we serve,” says Dr. Bobby Shayegan, a leading urologist and robotic surgeon at St. Joe’s who also happens to be Michael’s specialist.

Right now, MRI Fusion Biopsy isn’t available anywhere in Hamilton. That’s why St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation is working with our community to raise $300,000 to purchase this technology for our Hospital. After learning about the need for the MRI Fusion Biopsy, Michael and Ellen decided to make a $10,000 donation to support the fundraising campaign.

“It’s not until you’re in a crisis situation or facing a serious medical issue that you understand and appreciate the need for this type of equipment to support early detection,” says Michael. “I feel fortunate to be under the care of a compassionate and knowledgeable provider like Dr. Shayegan, and we view this donation as a way to equip St. Joe’s with the latest technology so Dr. Shayegan and his colleagues can help more patients facing a prostate cancer diagnosis.”

Wanting to do even more to help St. Joe’s, Ellen is putting her formidable knitting talents to work by creating and selling a holiday ornament that honours the memory of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The ornaments sell for $30 each, and Ellen donates the proceeds to charity. Last holiday season, Ellen raised $800 in just seven weeks and donated the funds to several local causes on Christmas Day. This year, she’s raising funds to support prostate cancer care at St. Joe’s and has already generated $1,000. To purchase an ornament and support St. Joe’s this holiday season, visit