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For Drew, the fight against cancer is a family battle. With a history of cancer in his family—his mother had breast cancer, his father had prostate cancer, and his brother passed away from metastasized bone cancer that began as prostate cancer—Drew knew the importance of vigilance. Yet, life has a way of throwing curveballs, and it was an unexpected event in 2008 that set off a chain reaction leading to his diagnosis.

In 2008, Drew suffered a severe accident, falling off his roof and breaking both legs. This mishap led to six surgeries over 48 months. Amid the flurry of medical procedures, Drew missed his routine physical in 2009, an oversight that he would later reflect upon with a mix of regret and gratitude.

Drew’s dedication to his health was unwavering. He had learned from his father, a military man who instilled the importance of annual physicals, to be diligent about health check-ups. Every year, Drew made it a point to get a physical on his birthday, which included a PSA test. However, in the chaos following his accident, this critical check-up slipped through the cracks.

In February 2010, during a medical exam, Drew’s elevated PSA levels raised alarm, and further tests confirmed the diagnosis: stage 3 prostate cancer. The news hit hard. Drew recalls the moment his urologist delivered the diagnosis, describing it as “a bit of a kick in the ass.” His doctor’s blunt words, “If you were my son or my brother, I’d operate on you tomorrow,” underscored the urgency.

He scheduled his surgery—a radical prostatectomy— followed by radiation therapy. Today, Drew’s PSA is at zero, a testament to catching the cancer just in time.

Drew’s experience with prostate cancer is a poignant reminder of the importance of early detection. His brother, a professional hockey player, had not been as vigilant. After Drew’s diagnosis, he urged his brother to get a PSA test. Unfortunately, his brother delayed follow-up medicals after his last one in 2008 for the next eight years. This led to a diagnosis of metastasized bone cancer that claimed his life after a four-year battle.

Drew emphasizes the critical role of being one’s own health advocate. His brother’s fate could have been different with earlier detection and treatment. This lesson is one Drew imparts to his children and grandchildren, urging them to be proactive, especially with a family history of cancer.

Despite his ordeal, Drew’s outlook remains positive. “Prostate cancer hasn’t changed who I am,” he asserts. His life, he says, feels largely the same, thanks to the support of his family and friends. Sharing his journey with others, especially a close friend who had a similar experience, provided comfort and strength.

This Father’s Day, Drew’s story stands as a powerful narrative of resilience, the importance of vigilance in health, and the enduring bonds of family. His message to others is clear: don’t ignore your health. Get tested early, develop a baseline, and be an advocate for your well-being. He remains thankful for the timely intervention that allows him to be there for his family, including his nine grandchildren, on this Father’s Day and many more to come.

Photo caption: Drew with his two sons and grandson. L-R (Gordon, Drew, Matthew, Tyson Schamehorn)