Tony Evans’ journey began at the age of 50, a pivotal point when he decided to prioritize his health and attend the MAN VAN® at a motorbike show for a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test.
Tony’s PSA levels were in the 4 range, not alarmingly high, but his vigilant personal doctor recommended ongoing monitoring. Over the years, the need for a digital rectal examination (DRE) arose, leading him to urologist Dr. Hyndman, who confirmed the presence of a lump. However, before further action could be taken, the world was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to an underlying heart condition, Dr. Hyndman referred Tony to a cardiologist as a precaution before his prostate biopsy. A routine checkup to the cardiologist quickly turned into a surgery, after the cardiologist informed Tony that he needed a stent put in immediately. The surgery was successful but also meant that Tony was unable to undergo a biopsy for one whole year after such a procedure. Tony had to navigate not only the uncertainty of prostate cancer but also the complexities of cardiac health. He credits Dr. Hyndman with “saving his life in more ways than one.” After a year of heart-related challenges, Tony finally underwent a biopsy in August 2021, with results confirming his fears – the presence of cancer.
The following months brought additional hardships. Tony’s mother passed away during the time he was awaiting the results of his biopsy, and the restrictions imposed by COVID-19 prevented him from returning to Nova Scotia for her funeral. Two days before receiving his biopsy results, his beloved dog also passed away, adding to the emotional toll. Looking back on it, he jokes “Its like a damn country song, one tragedy after another.”
Facing the daunting reality of prostate cancer, Tony and his wife, Liz, navigated the uncertainties caused by COVID-19 and opted for surgery due to the urgency. Despite several postponements, Tony finally underwent surgery in February 2022, marking this February his 2nd anniversary post-surgery. Tony acknowledged the impact on his relationship with Liz, describing the emotional balance they struck to lift each other up during moments of despair. Post-surgery, classes and support groups played a crucial role in his healing process, helping him cope with both physical and emotional challenges.
Throughout this challenging journey, Tony emphasized the importance of support groups at the Prostate Cancer Centre, particularly with professionals like nurses Jamie Dwyer and Candace Frey. He highlighted the dark place one can enter when overthinking and getting into their own head, emphasizing the role of positive conversations in overcoming these mental struggles.
Sharing his journey with others also proved a vital aspect of his coping mechanism. He realized the scarcity of conversations surrounding prostate cancer, especially from a couple’s perspective. He encourages men to talk about their experiences and emphasizes the importance of continuing to pursue one’s passions to maintain a positive outlook on life.
As Couple’s Cancer Month unfolds, Tony Evans stands as a testament to the strength and resilience that couples can muster in the face of prostate cancer. His journey reminds us that open communication, support, and a positive mindset are essential elements in triumphing over adversity.