National Health Activist Gabe Canales '99 is Changing the Way we Fight Cancer
As a young man in college, Gabe Canales '99 ate junk food and had one too many beers regularly. He is the first to admit that he often showed up for classes with a hangover. With the help of International Studies Professor, the late Gustavo Wensjoe, Canales began to change his habits and behavior. Still, the compounded damage to his body from years of poor food choices, medications and repressed childhood trauma had already set in motion something no one wants to hear: "You have cancer."
When he learned at age 35 that he had prostate cancer, a diagnosis many men face around age 66, he was thunderstruck. How did a young guy end up with an "old man's disease?" This unexpected diagnosis was a wake-up call for Canales, who continues to beat cancer and became a national advocate with a missionary’s zeal for men's health.
Canales Publishes First Book: Unexpected Diagnosis
Prostate Cancer is one of the most common cancers in American men. September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. So Canales is back on the road again, going from city to city, talking about men's health on radio programs, TV shows, and newspaper reporters. He is also touting his new book, "Unexpected Diagnosis: Prostate Cancer and the Wake-Up Call to Live Healthier and Happier," published in July 2022 by Simon and Schuster and sold on Amazon. The book follows his journey to save his own life by improving his physical and mental health. He shares knowledge from top doctors, experts and professional athletes, while providing insights on how masculinity and healthy living aren't mutually exclusive.
“I have lived with prostate cancer for 12 years and am healthier today than when I was diagnosed in 2010,” Canales said. “How to beat cancer, is a major point of the book. The same habits that have slowed the progression of my early-stage prostate cancer have significantly reduced my risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension, and other chronic conditions that men in my family have died from.
It Starts with Lifestyle; micro-changes can save your Life
For Canales, his mission exemplified his education at UST. He turned his unexpected diagnosis into a way to serve others. He credits his liberal arts education and his experience studying theology and communications as significant factors defining his journey. With a talent for public relations and networking, he dedicated his life to inspiring and motivating men to save their own lives through improving mental and physical health. In 2010, Canales turned personal adversity into global goodness, starting the Blue Cure Foundation. The Mission of Blue Cure is to save men from premature death, by empowering men with the knowledge of how lifestyle can prevent and reduce the risk of leading causes of male death from lifestyle-driven chronic health conditions and cancers. Blue Cure wants to end the stigma that keeps men from taking control of their health to live healthier, happier lives.
In 2020, he set out to cross America, stopping in 40 cities and asking folks to sign a petition to establish a U.S. Office on Men's Health. He traveled 8,867 miles. KHOU, Channel 11, Houston ran a segment on his tour.
Canales says, “College men can benefit from adopting healthy lifestyle habits as well as becoming aware and dealing with mental health issues caused by trauma, which is held inside and needs to be released," Canales said. He is a proponent of micro-changes in lifestyle and diet that can lead to significant changes in health, cancer outcomes and lives saved.