Real People, Real Stories

Prostate cancer survivor

David King

In the late Fall of 2006 (and age 66), I asked my doctor if a prostate PSA level that doubled in one year was a cause for concern, even though the new number was still well below the generally accepted threshold level for concern. He said, “Yep.” So the next step was a biopsy, then back to the urology department for a finding: I’ll never forget listening to that lady say, “Well, you have cancer.”

I don’t think I felt fear, just a sense of urgency to learn about the options for dealing with this new situation. The cancer cells were pronounced to be “early stage” – that’s good – and “aggressive” – that’s not so good. After extensive research and visiting with doctors who performed the various treatment options and considering the pros and cons with my wife and family, we rather easily came to a consensus: Let’s get it out! More research led to a decision to go for a “Da Vinci Robotic Radical Prostatectomy.” With a name like that, surely it was a good thing! We also found a surgeon who was one of the leading experts in the country in the use of this procedure. So, in December 2006, the deed was done.

All good news since then: The recovery period was trying, but relatively brief. My wife was a wonderful caregiver, even though I needed and asked for very little. (She might disagree with that..) The possible side effects have been minimal. No further treatment has been necessary since then. And now three years of very low PSA levels suggest that nothing untoward is going on.

All this while, I’d been doing some work for CanCare, and after listening for a couple of years to pressure from various folks in the office to sign up for a volunteer training session, I finally decided to go for it. Boy, was the Class #47 in the summer of 2009 an eye-opening experience for me! I quickly realized three things: One, the weekend training package was exquisitely well done by the CanCare training leaders. Pat Hogan and her team do an amazing job of transforming a bunch of cancer survivors and caregivers into skilled and informed agents of hope and support. Two, the range and diversity of people’s cancer experience is huge! And, three, I am incredibly lucky to have had a cancer experience that has been, relatively speaking, a walk in the park!

So, while I appreciated at the head level before the training class that what CanCare volunteers do for newly-diagnosed cancer patients is a great thing, after the class, I really got it! Deep down, at the gut level. Now I fully appreciate at all levels the power and beauty of the support that a CanCare volunteer (both in the hospital, and one-to-one) brings to anyone who is faced with accepting this disease as a part of their life.

CanCare has been serving people with cancer since 1990.  All services are confidential and free of charge.  To talk to someone surviving your diagnosis, click here.