Tom’s Story

Survivor Tom

My story:

I am 48 years old and a lifelong athlete and a lifelong non-smoker.  I do not have cancer in my immediate family.  On Nov. 19th 2015 I was diagnosed with “highly aggressive” later stage prostate cancer.  My life then became a whirlwind world tour of specialists and scans and tests and clinic visits.  It seemed like all there was is bad news.  Then came the horrible crash course information of what it actually means to have prostate cancer and its terrible impacts on a man as well as the further dangers of “metastasizing”.  You are at this point drug into an arena that you scarcely can even understand and yet time is against you to make some really, really, difficult calls.

Let me rewind just the last year leading up to this.

In my personal life I had just experienced a complete personal crash.  I had gotten a divorce and sold my house and was in a 10yr. long career that I no longer enjoyed at all.  My son had just enrolled in college and dad was alone.  It was a dark and severely difficult time for me.  I then (when I was least expecting it) met a wonderful woman on line through our bodybuilding and fitness interests.  As our relationship grew we knew one of us would have to relocate, and since everything about my surroundings was toxic at this point we decided it should be me (I was in Pittsburgh at this time).  So, I moved to Colorado in the summer of 2015.  Everything was instantly better by way of a loving relationship and I even found a great job right away and was really enjoying the new scenery and meeting new people.  It was only when I made a cold call out of the phone book to find a new Doctor out here and establish new care that I was about to be given a major curve –ball.  I went expecting a new physical just like you would always get and have the new doctor interview you.  During the interview as you get asked the personal questions about urination a flag seemed to be raised and the doctor said “let’s check your prostate PSA level”…I thought it was a gas, so I was like “Yeah, sure…go ahead”, and went on with my day after the appointment.  About a week later I got a call saying that I should so to a urologist because my PSA didn’t come back with a normal number.  Again, I was like “yeah, ok…sure” so I went and had another more granular test done and received yet another call saying that I should get a biopsy due to the results being less than stellar (my PSA was an 8).  So, on I go for a biopsy.  Let me tell you that there is not enough information out there to prepare you mentally or physically for what a biopsy of your prostate entails (there will be more on this on the website shortly) and the ramifications it has on you for several weeks.

I then had to wait a nail biting whole week for results to come back and the word cancer was mentioned as a possibility but also many other things can be reflecting those high numbers as well such as an infection.  When we went into the office there was a normal tone and some small talk and then the file was pulled out and the atom-bomb was dropped on me and my girlfriend. I was diagnosed with “highly aggressive” late stage prostate cancer! I sat with my jaw open and my eyes glazed over and the doctor said to take some time because he realizes he just hit me over the head with a 2×4.  Then began the whirlwind tour I mentioned earlier.

It was not time for option after option after option either (depending on your stage)… I only had 2 choices.  The chemo/radiation route or the surgical route.  In both scenarios they lower your testosterone levels to zero (or as close too) so that there is no “fuel” for the cancer during either route of treatment chosen.  The fact is that both do sterilize you forever and they also have “other” effects we won’t even discuss here….I had to toil over and over and over with what to do and which would be right for me.  Meanwhile, the clock is ticking and sooner or later you just gotta make the call.  I eventually chose the surgical route for the radical prostatectomy and they also removed 14 lymph nodes surrounding the area.  I did have the robotic procedure and they were able to do a “nerve sparing” type to try to give me the best chance to recover.  I will spare specifics for now but let’s just say there is a long recovery period and there are many “hidden costs” to doing business with cancer.  It was here during my journey that I had the idea and was so pissed, that I was determined to start this organization to do something bigger than myself and try to make a difference so that no other man would have to be SO blindsided by not only the diagnosis but the “cost” of it all.

**If you have had dealings with prostate cancer and would like to be featured as a StrongMember upload your story and pics to us on our “Tell Your Story Page” in doing so you will thus become a StrongMember!