In the mid-2000s, I was busy with a growing family and a new business. There never seemed to be enough hours in the day. So I postponed what I thought at the time were a few non-essential activities, including my annual physical exam.
At 58, I felt fine. I had no known health issues so I thought I was okay holding off on my physical for the time being. Then, a one-year postponement turned into three. When I finally went in for a routine checkup in 2007, I was alarmed at what my doctor discovered: an elevated PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen).
I was in denial, thinking that couldn’t be right – that it must have been a false reading. But a referral to the urologist and a biopsy proved otherwise: I had prostate cancer.
I was scared as my mind started jumping to worst-case scenarios. I worried about my wife and my family, my colleagues and business obligations, finances, and of course, my own life. My urologist reassuringly walked my wife and me through the test results and available treatment options. He explained prostate cancer has nearly a 100 percent survival rate, when caught early. He pointed out information in my patient folder about prostate cancer support and mentoring information. But all of that was a blur. I was numb with fear. I couldn’t comprehend the shocking information coming at me.
When I got home, I scoured the internet for hours looking for every bit of information I could find on prostate cancer treatments, side effects and survival statistics. Two brave friends of mine who are prostate cancer survivors shared their experiences with me – greatly reducing my anxiety. While I was still scared, I was able to manage my fear and take control of my options. I realized I would need to adjust to a new normal filled with side effects of the disease. But there was one thing I knew for sure: I wasn’t going to die from prostate cancer anytime soon.
My wife and I decided together the safest plan was to undergo surgery in order to completely remove the cancer risk. I had my surgery on Feb. 14, 2008. This chance for a long life together was the sweetest Valentine’s Day gift of all.
Eleven years post-prostatectomy, I am happy to report that all my PSA tests have come back negative. Although I won’t be able to ever say that I’m cancer free, the odds are increasingly in my favor.
I have my annual physical already scheduled for April. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Don’t miss yours either.