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Stillwater teacher battling cancer gets a Christmas surprise

Group of family and friends show up to sing carols outside a Stillwater educator's window, who is battling cancer.

Teacher Bill Howlett was sitting in his hospice room Sunday when the sound of carol singers floated through the window.

Despite the sub-zero temperatures, around 75 of the Stillwater Area High School assistant principal's family, friends and students came to serenade him with Christmas songs to support him during his battle with prostate cancer.

Their singing was captured on video in this Facebook post by Rob Ricci.

In August 2014, Howlett was diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer, according to his YouCaring page, and entered hospice care at St. Therese at St. Odilla in Shoreview after undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

KARE 11 also got some video of the carol singing, and reports that Howlett has been with the Stillwater schools system as an assistant principal, coach and teacher for 12 years.

"I always wanted to work with kids," he told the TV station, which reports that the caroling surprise was organized by his oldest sister, with Howlett and his family watching the scene from the window.

Howlett also received a warm message from the entire school system, via Facebook.

If you want to donate to Bill's medical fund, visit his YouCaring fund page, here.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men (after skin cancer,) according to the American Cancer Society, and although the cause is unknown, the ACS defines the three "risk factors" as age, family history, and race.

Symptoms of the cancer are mainly associated with painful, interrupted or weak, and frequent urination, according to the Center for Disease Control. The CDC says to contact your doctor right away if you have symptoms that worry you, although it is possible that these symptoms are a result of something else.

The CDC recommends making an informed decision on wether or not to test for prostate cancer. There are two ways to do so according to the center, a PSA screening or a digital rectal exam, and there are risks and benefits of both.

The US Preventative Services Task Force does NOT recommend a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) screening for men without symptoms because the test can be incorrect, which can cause emotional distress. But other organizations like the American Urological Association, say that the test can reveal important information and should be utilized.

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