The Prostate Cancer Club
John Arnold, Ottawa, ON
In my mid-fifties, I started to get my PSA test at my yearly medical. This created a baseline that allowed my doctor to monitor it. When I was 59, my PSA was elevated, which got me a date with my new best friend – my urologist. My journey with prostate cancer had begun.
In August, 2003, the day of the Ontario-wide blackout, I had my biopsy. Two weeks later the biopsy confirmed prostate cancer. The next few weeks were a blur, with dates with several doctors offering me everything from brachytherapy to radiation. During that time I visited our Ottawa prostate cancer support group, then called PCAO, Prostate Cancer Association Ottawa. After much reading and self-education, I along with my wife Judy decided that the best approach was to get the cancer out of my body.
My operation was slated for December 3, 2003. As many know, when you are diagnosed with cancer you think of many things – your relationship with your wife, your children, your not-yet-present grandchildren, your future. You also question your mortality.
The operation went as well as could be expected: four days in hospital, a bag strapped to my leg, a catheter… oh, what fun!
Christmas came and went with the highlight being the announcements of the expected arrival of two grandchildren the coming summer. This good news fortified my choice of treatment and the possibility of a long life enjoying future additions to my family.
Fortunately my cancer was contained in my prostate and hadn’t spread beyond it. In 2007, I retired. It was then that I decided to help other men and their families who were dealing with prostate cancer. I started to attend our support group meetings to see where I might help. It turned out that this experience was very therapeutic in helping me with my own cancer journey. I had the time to reflect and really understand my journey with prostate cancer.
Today I have progressed to a cancer-free life with a minimal if not zero PSA. But one never knows if and when the cancer may come back. It is always at the back of my mind. For now, I enjoy each day, and having five grandkids has made a terrific difference in my cancer journey.
Is my life with cancer over? I don’t know.
But for now I will enjoy life and contribute where I can. One of the best things that has happened is that I have met a great group of men who, with their support, have made this journey smoother.
You know, we belong to a club that none of us had ever wanted to join, but it has been a very supportive group that I am happy to say I belong to.