TEN YEARS PROSTATE CANCER FREE!!!

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It’s early Thursday morning, December 28, 2006. The time is almost 5am. Me and the wife are up and preparing to gather our things, drop the kiddos off with friends, and then head out to UT Southwestern for me to experience God’s mercy in getting the cancer removed from my body. I’m a little anxious but not as much as I expected to myself to be. I’ve never had any type of major surgery in my life and never thought I would have to at 41 years old. The waiting room is approximately 50-60% filled with individuals waiting to be escorted to the OR like myself. Once my name is called we head to the back and I prepare. I kiss my bride and begin to be rolled to “command central.” I remember briefly seeing the blur of a huge, monstrosity of a machine (the daVinci) for about 2 seconds – then I’m out. What seemed like 5-10 minutes to me was in fact about 4 hours. As I remember coming to and hearing the voice of a nurse or two scurrying about doing their medical duties, my one and only thought comes to mind: “I guess they’re finished.” Then I drift off to sleep again.

Next thing I know I’m being rolled into my hospital room where family and friends await as I’m monitored by nurses and doctors, including my surgeon who visits me with an encouraging description of the procedure: “It was exquisite!”

From there I have my PSA checked a month later. Then 3 months. Then 6 months. Then once a year. Every year I get the same result – zero detection!

Today marks 10 years from having the surgery to remove the cancer. For 10 years it’s been zero, gone, nada, and zilch – so much so that when I first did the ultra-sensitive PSA (which tests to the thousandths, giving a more accurate reading), my surgeon was quite amazed!

It’s also been 10 years that I’ve been on the quest to raise awareness with this blog and have been available to talk with nearly 100 individual men who tested positive, answer their questions, and inform them on having the robotic surgery as I did. I’ve also been blessed to challenge many men to go and get screened, many of whom either have never been screened for prostate cancer or actively refuse to because they just don’t want to know. I’ve learned, as I’ve practiced, that we men like to operate under the notion that no news is good news. Or rather “what you don’t know can’t hurt you.” But I’ve been able to share with many brothers the truth that when it comes to your health, especially prostate health, “what you don’t know can kill you.” Not knowing isn’t a cure. The only death sentence is not getting screened and treated if necessary. I shutter when I think if I had not gotten screened when I did, I would either have had to receive radiation (which I didn’t need) and some further form of treatment, or worse – I wouldn’t be here. I’m only here by the sovereign grace and mercy of GOD, who does as He pleases (Psalm 115:3) and by Whom I was afflicted (or broken) so that I might learn His statutes (Psalm 119:71) and serve Him, which I know I don’t do very well. Man, He is patient!

It is a privilege to be here. I get to stay and take care of my family. I get to stay and help other brothers who go through the same and I’m able to walk with them as one who knows how they feel. And ultimately I get to learn more about the sovereignty, providence, grace, and mercy of the Lord who saved me and allows me to learn of Him from His Word and by experiencing His Truth in my life. I’m so thankful and I know I don’t show it enough. The Lord has been extremely merciful to me, especially in giving me the best Wife in the world! She’s better than any doctor! As I healed at home, she had everything in place to allow me to heal in comfort with no worries while still driving the kiddos to and from school. What a superwoman!

THANK YOU, LORD, for your amazing grace and mercy. I’m not worthy. Thank YOU for 10 years of me being a prostate cancer survivor! Thank YOU for each day because none of them are deserved or promised.

TEN YEARS parts 3, 4, and so on…

Ok, I’ve really been slacking on posting my 10-year progression with the events that lead up to the “day” (which is tomorrow). While I’ve been so busy working and doing family stuff, I’ve had many thoughts on what transpired 10 years ago, all lead by God’s providence. From going to the urologist and getting scheduled for a biopsy, then going back a week later to get the verdict that I tested positive. From there I watched my fear and grief turn to comfort and joy as the LORD provided great confidence in His grace and mercy and sending various people in my life – like the nurse who worked at UT Southwestern, whose 2 little girls attended my wife’s home daycare for about 3-4 weeks and upon learning of my situation recommended I pursue the robotic procedure (which we had never even heard of), even informing us of the exact surgeon to do the work – and he was the best! I’m still in awe of how God orchestrated it all!

I would have to say that before surgery, my greatest moment of comfort in God’s provision was with my job. Most of my fellow employees gathered together with me seated in the center and surrounded me in prayer. This was preceded by them presenting me with a gift bag filled with cash and various gift cards to grocery stores and restaurants so that my wifey wouldn’t have to bother cooking so much as she takes care of me and our kiddos while I heal at home. What a blessing for them to do that!!! We couldn’t help but shed tears of joy!

All that was ten years ago. It all lead up to December 28, 2006 – the day of surgery. Tune in tomorrow…

TEN YEARS… part 2

Here is the second installment of my 10-year anniversary as a prostate cancer survivor. It was 10 years ago that my job provided a fun activity for the staff to take us all to the state fair. As I am preparing to board the bus with my department, my cell phone rings. It’s the manager for the hospital’s prostate screening program, which came to my church the previous weekend. He called to inform me that my PSA was high (7.47) which was a bit irregular especially for my age at the time (41). He called my wife first (who was a bit frantic to say the least) and she called me immediately after I finished talking with him. Being the loving, tenacious wife that she is, she wasted no time in calling him back to inquire about a good urologist and get further information. That lead to her calling me back with a same-day appointment (tenacious, isn’t she). She later called me while I was at the fair (trying to have fun with the thought of a high PSA on my brain) and said she was on her way to pick me up! We made it to the urologist’s office that afternoon and as he aggressively took a “feel” of my prostate (after I almost punched a whole in the wall), he then stated because of the high PSA I must schedule a biopsy. Oh joy :-/  We made an appointment with him for the following week. Stay tuned for part 3…

TEN YEARS… part 1

Today begins my 10-year celebration of being a prostate cancer survivor! (Wow! I can’t believe it.) It would be 10 years ago today on a Saturday morning when I would be encouraged by my sweet wife to attend a special monthly men’s fellowship at my church. Each year in the month of October there was a scheduled prostate cancer screening that would follow a men’s breakfast and Bible teaching led by our pastor. Nurses were stationed at various tables in a large meeting/classroom to take blood pressure and blood samples for PSA. Smaller classrooms were each occupied by a doctor to administer the “dreaded” digital rectal exam. Other than the weird sensation of the DRE (ugh!) I had no symptoms nor serious concerns about my health. The rest of the day was spent worry-free with my family doing the typical weekend activities at home. It seemed that all was well with my life — until the following week… (to be continued)

Thank you, NFL! Get screened!!!

I can’t believe it!!! Man, I am so pumped about this!!!!! I wonder did the #NFL get my message? I’m not sure and it doesn’t matter whether they got it from me or somewhere else. I’m sooooooooo glad they did this. Looks like they teamed up with Cancer Treatment Centers of America. What a great, great, great commercial!!! I only found this on YouTube. I haven’t seen this on tv yet and I hope it’s airing during the games. That’s the main point. Thank you, #NFL ! Great job on whoever created it. I will post this as many times as I can! #getscreened

It’s SEPTEMBER again

bluepin.jpgFor those who follow me on this blog (all 2 of you i bet), I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve been busier on my Twitter feed more than here. BUT, it’s September again. What does that mean? Well, it’s rarely known but September is PROSTATE CANCER AWARENESS MONTH! Though it’s not nearly as popular as October is with Breast Cancer Awareness, it is equally important as it is known that prostate cancer is the 2nd largest cause of death among men (2nd to heart disease), yet it is the leading type of cancer that men die from. At least that’s what I’m finding so far. So why do men leave this earth because of prostate cancer??? It’s mainly because of plain and simple ignorance, mostly by choice. Most men don’t care to know anything about their health, so not knowing is believed to be a cure. You know the old saying, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you?” Cancer doesn’t consult with you for permission to attack your body. A better saying is, “What you don’t know can kill you!” Prostate cancer grows slowly so annual screenings can catch it and the proper treatment, especially performed in the early stages, can save lives in a heart beat.

I have to jump on my soapbox again and question why the #NFL and other sports organizations (like #MLB) that run in September won’t help raise awareness for prostate cancer? Now I’m sure organizations like Susan G. Komen pay top dollar to have pink everywhere during October, especially on many football fields. But does it take a lot of money or a celebrity to do the same for men’s health with so many millions of men who are glued to their tubes every Sunday, Monday, and Thursday or any other day of the week? Or how about Saturdays with college football??? Millions upon millions of men watch from their sofas or tailgate parties enjoying every play (like myself) — that is the perfect time to have a commercial or any public service announcement about prostate cancer. Why is this not happening??? Too bad I’m not rich or popular to help make this happen. But that won’t stop me! I will do what I can in my own little sphere to raise awareness and spread the word. I just need more brothers to do the same, whether you’re a survivor or not. Here’s a challenge: If anybody knows the best way to send a message to leading sports organizations (NFL, MLB, NCAA, etc.) please let me know and let’s do it together!!! I attempted to contact the NFL a couple of years ago but didn’t have a good method of contact to even make a dent. I received no response. But it would be great to see some light blue on football fields and baseball diamonds, trimming football helmets and baseball caps, and even better on coaches’ apparel as they scream from the sidelines or dugouts. Until then, let’s talk to our neighbors, church members, co-workers, grocery shoppers, and so on. For fathers like me, we can also reach out to our kids’ schools to help raise awareness at the Friday night games! Let’s help save lives and raise awareness for more screenings, one brother at a time.