Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. About 1 man in 7 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. About 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66. To learn first-hand about prostate cancer we visited with parishioner Mark Good.
Q. Mark, when did you learn of your prostate cancer?
A. I had a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test that came back elevated at 2.0 ng/ml (normal is 1 ng/ml for my age). Over a course of 2½ years I had four sets of biopsies and four PSA’s. On the last biopsy one of the 12 samples was positive for prostate cancer. Also, only 5% was positive for cancer. By the time I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in November 2013, I had two brothers with prostate cancer.
Q. What type of cancer do you have?
A. I was the 1 out of every 7 man who is diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Q. How did it affect your life?
A. When I was told of this cancer, I was actually relieved that the cancer was found. With my PSA continuing to climb and two brothers diagnosed with this cancer over 2½ years, I was sure I had it. Prostate cancer can be very hard to diagnose.
It has changed my life in a very positive direction. It has opened several new doors. I have talked to so many men & their spouses & many others have reached out to me.
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men. Yet, there is very little talk about it. I have had many opportunities to speak with groups such as the Knights of Columbus. This not only affects the men, but all those around them in so many ways.
I have partnered with Zero Cancer – The end to prostate cancer. They help to raise awareness about prostate cancer. They have been extremely supportive and organized a run/walk in Des Moines last September.
Q. What advice can you give others who may have cancer or have a love one with cancer?
A. Getting checked is the best advice; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of gold. When detected early it is nearly 100% survivable at five years, but when not, it is the second deadliest cancer in men. Men know a lot of numbers; horsepower, how much they can lift, weight, blood pressure, their favorite team’s record…but do they know their PSA? It’s a simple blood test.
Ask about the test. Seek counseling or a support group if you are diagnosed with cancer. Know your options. Don’t feel like there isn’t any hope. A cancer diagnosis does not always mean the worst. In my own case, I was glad that they finally found it, I could be treated and that life could move forward.
Give the person with cancer all the support they need. Have faith in God and put your trust in Him. A cancer diagnosis affects everyone around the cancer patient. Much like a pebble (or in some cases a BIG rock), the effects of the cancer diagnosis are felt by everyone. My wife and my grown children have been a great support system, and I hope at times I have been theirs as well. Be patient. It has truly brought a different dimension into our family. A weird thing is to have the common cancer bond with two of my brothers!
Q. Has it affected your religious life?
A. The cancer has really enriched my life. I feel after having been given this diagnosis that I look at many things much differently. So many things in life have taken on much deeper meaning. For some reason, Easter has taken on a greater significance. In one respect cancer can be a death sentence. I on the other hand, found it to be a new awakening.
A light came on that showed my just how short and precarious life can be. One minute you are living life and the next minute you are being told that your whole life will be shaken to the core and you are no longer in control. It is then that you realize that your faith plays a bigger part in your life than you realize. It is when you put everything in God’s hands and have faith that this has all happened for a reason.
I have found that reason. I have found that calling. I have found that my faith has gotten stronger over time with this diagnosis. The further I am from the diagnosis of the cancer, the stronger my faith becomes.
The Zero Prostate Cancer Run/Walk will be held Saturday, September 17th at Principal Park. To learn more go to the Zero Prostate Cancer website at: http://support.zerocancer.org/, click on Run’Walk Near You, and enter your zip code on the new page. Or, contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org