There is a certain irony in being asked to share my prostate cancer story on Father’s Day. Growing up, my father had a major influence on all aspects of my life and an obvious impact on the man and father that I am today. My journey with prostate cancer also was initiated as a direct result of our family history and annual monitoring of my PSA levels became mandatory. My grandfather, father, uncle and my brother all had been treated for prostate cancer, and I was the next family member to experience the disease.
This past November, during a routine annual visit to my urologist, Dr. Metcalfe felt it appropriate, given an elevated PSA and an examination, to take the next step in diagnosis scheduling a biopsy of my prostate. At first, being relatively young at 57 and reasonably fit, this procedure did not alarm me.
What I didn’t realize at the time, was how a simple visit to Calgary’s Prostate Cancer Centre would alter my life in so many ways.
Upon arriving at the Prostate Cancer Centre for my biopsy, with my wife Margo there to lend me her amazing support and guidance, I found myself having a certain level of anxiety and fear that I had not experienced before. Until this time, the prospect of having Cancer was just that, a prospect. Now it could prove to be a reality.
Surrounded in the crowded waiting room with a significant number of other men, some with partners and some alone, my wife Margo and I were greeted by a very calm and pleasant volunteer offering us coffee and a smile. Perhaps sensing my feelings, this man preceded to sit with us and share in the most caring and friendly manner his knowledge of the biopsy experience, and even deeper, his personal reflections on his journey through prostate cancer. He stated in an encouraging way that he too had started just like me and was now a healthy example of a cancer survivor.
This was the first of many positive experiences we have had with some of the many amazing volunteers and staff at the Prostate Cancer Centre. From that day forward, I was infinitely more comfortable in dealing with my own diagnosis, fears and even in attending the Prostate Cancer Centre for treatment.
Shortly after my biopsy, I received a phone call from our family doctor who shared with me the results of my biopsy. Indeed I had prostate cancer with a Gleason score of 4+3. Treatment in some form would be necessary.
I am one of those individuals who turns inward at a time like this. However, through the support of my wife, I learned to look outward for answers and direction. This is, most certainly, one of the greatest resources of the Prostate Cancer Centre. They are a tremendous team of staff and volunteers there to assist individuals and families through this process.
After further consultations with my urologist, I chose to have a radical prostatectomy. I was greatly encouraged to learn through my research, that the Calgary Prostate Cancer Centre in association with the team of urologists, are considered to be the preeminent medical team in leading prostate cancer research and treatment in North America, if not the world. Again, this added to my comfort level heading into surgery.
Together, all of the fine folks that work and volunteer at Calgary’s Prostate Cancer Centre came together to help include me into what would become not a clinic, but rather, a family of support and caring. They each had an individual story and commitment. The Prostate Cancer Centre is an invaluable resource that I would encourage anyone else who receives a Prostate Cancer diagnosis to take advantage of. Reach outside your comfort level and ask questions. They do have the answers. The workshops and classes they have implemented will assist you through the process of dealing with a cancer diagnosis.
Sharing my diagnosis with my son was difficult. Given our family history I felt as though I was not only telling him about my cancer, but his long term outlook as well. Only time will tell how prostate cancer will carry on in our family. If nothing else, the importance of testing and monitoring has never been more evident, for all men.
It was for this reason that I was so proud of my son Sean when he chose to take a long term look at prostate cancer and pay forward his commitment to try and deal with it. Through his own initiative of shaving his head, he succeeded in raising $2,700 towards the Prostate Cancer Centre. We have many friends and family to thank!
It is too early in my post operative recovery to say I am now living cancer free, so further monitoring is required. I am extremely thankful for all of the assistance provided by the Prostate Cancer Centre and my dedicated and talented surgeon Dr. Charles Metcalfe. I do know that they will all be there moving forward. They are a caring and emphatic team.
Calgary’s Prostate Cancer Centre is only able to operate because of the generosity of their community. Please help support the incredible work that is done at the Centre every day so your grandfather, father and son will be looked after as well as we were.
Happy Father’s Day!
Every dollar helps!
Bob I had not heard, glad your doing well, thanks for sharing your story, look forward to seeing you and Margo, I am taking your advice and heading down to Austin music festival in the fall. Cheers for now. Gary