Anglers for the Cure
Adriana Somberg learned firsthand how important it is for men to get tested for prostate cancer. She lost her husband, Reed, to the disease in 2014. That’s why she created a fishing tournament to help spread the word about early testing.
Anglers For The Cure not only educates the public, but also provides free prostate cancer blood testing for male participants. “I call myself a messenger,” says Somberg, who lives in Jupiter, Florida. “There’s a misconception that prostate cancer, you’re not going to die from it. I guarantee you can die and suffer really badly from it. Early detection is key to living a long life without worries, because if you get prostate cancer aggressively, you’re going to worry for the rest of your life.”
An attorney who was healthy and active — he loved to fish, scuba dive, and fly his own airplanes and helicopters — Reed Somberg was 54 when he had his prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, tested, “never thinking that it was going to come back elevated,” Somberg says. “There was no family history that we knew of, no symptoms that we knew of. Reed’s grandfather lived to be 96, and his father was 86. But his numbers were elevated and very aggressive.”
A biopsy revealed a Gleason Score of 9 on a scale of 2 to 10, with 10 being the most aggressive. (The Gleason Score is the grading system used to determine the aggressiveness of prostate cancer.) He underwent treatment and appeared to be in the clear, but about eight months later he was diagnosed with cancer in his bones. He died at age 59 in May 2014.
Somberg started Anglers For The Cure after attending Bluewater Babes Fish for a Cure, which benefits breast and ovarian cancer, in October 2014. The first Anglers For The Cure tournament, in 2015, had 33 boats and raised $45,000 with 80 sponsors. By 2016, the tournament had 45 boats and raised $65,000. In 2017, it jumped to 65 boats and $85,000.
Somberg says the 2018 tournament raised $87,000. It was held out of the Rybovich SuperYacht Marina in West Palm Beach, Florida, where 92 boats competed for kingfish, dolphin and wahoo, raising money for charities and donating fish to feed the hungry.
Some changes are in store for the coming year. In an attempt to reach more people, Somberg says she will focus on creating a local charity dedicated to prostate cancer awareness, rather than continue with the fishing tournament. She says she might organize a benefit sailfish tournament, perhaps a golf tournament, a walk/run event or maybe just a picnic with vendors and information about the disease. Free blood tests will be a part of each event.
“The mission and the cause of the charity needs to refocus itself on men who are in need of guidance, who are in need of counseling, even if they need some financial assistance,” Somberg says. “So I’m going to try to continue to raise funds for men who don’t have insurance or the funds for treatment.
“The mission is really to wake men and their families up so they know that this disease could happen to them,” she adds.
At the 2018 tournament, two doctors spoke about prostate cancer at the captains’ meeting, which had about 350 attendees. Then Somberg told her story. PSA tests were made available, with blood drawn from fishermen’s arms to check the level of PSA protein the prostate is producing. The tests are done by OneLab Walk-in Lab Testing, which brings its phlebotomists to the captains’ meetings and curtains off an area to draw blood.
That night, 77 men were tested for free. One man’s PSA was down to 0.09, after undergoing treatment for a PSA of 16.7 detected at the 2017 tournament. “It’s the only diagnostic that’s available to men other than waiting for a symptom,” Somberg says of the PSA test. “And once you have a symptom, it could be too late.”
When OneLab owner John Hanley found out what Somberg was doing, he donated PSA screenings for last year’s tournament. This year, OneLab provided a complete male panel, which costs $300 a piece. The tournament paid $100 for each test, with OneLab covering the balance. “If 100 men had gotten their blood tested, I would’ve written a check for $10,000 without a blink,” says Somberg, who also donates thousands of dollars in tournament proceeds to hospice and prostate charities.
John Adinolfe became a believer in testing after meeting Somberg several years ago. Adinolfe owns Finholder and More and AA Boat Tops & Canvas in West Palm Beach. Somberg approached his wife, Michele, about providing prizes for the tournament. As Adinolfe learned more about Somberg and prostate cancer, he became an advocate for testing — and for himself.
He had a PSA of 1.2 — anything below 4 is typically considered normal — although Adinolfe noted his younger brother had prostate cancer with a PSA below 4. And prostate cancer is believed to be hereditary. By early 2018, Adinolfe’s PSA had jumped to 12.4. He had a biopsy that showed his prostate had 5 percent cancer cells. “The doctor said it was a good thing I was proactive,” Adinolfe says. “Since we caught it early, we had all the treatment options.”
His most recent PSA was 1, but Adinolfe remains cautious. “Just because my PSA is low doesn’t mean I’m cancer-free,” he says.
That type of proactive screening is what Somberg wants all men to do. She works as a realtor and property manager, and does makeup and hair for weddings, but she made Anglers For The Cure her full-time job — at zero salary. Her dedication inspires countless participants and sponsors. “Adriana has this so well organized. It’s one of the best and for a great cause,” says Nick Perrone of Loxahatchee, Florida, who is president of the Fishing Club of the Palm Beaches and whose Team Heavy Hitters has fished the tournament all four years. “Everyone gets their blood checked and tested. Catching it quick is the main thing. This is a great event, great raffle prizes, great auction items, it’s just a great time all around.
“Even if I wasn’t able to fish, I would still donate to the cause,” he adds. “I put in my entry fee early every year, and if something came up and I didn’t fish, it’d still be fine because I know it’s going to a good cause.”
Tore Turney, a freelance captain and two-time winner of the Silver Sailfish Derby, also has fished Anglers For The Cure every year. “Anything that benefits finding a cure, anything like that, my customers get more excited,” says Turney, who led anglers to several big kingfish aboard Not 2 Naughty. “I give Adriana a 10. She does a great job.”
Carey Chen, who provided art for the tournament T-shirts and trophies, and donated his artwork for the tournament raffles, says he was just doing his part. “If you save one life, that’s just incredible,” Chen says. “Everybody has to pitch in.”
Somberg plans to continue doing her part. “When I started this, I was doing it, I think, as a healing process, healing from the loss of my husband,” she says. “Early detection is key to living a very long life.”