08/07/2014 08:12 EDT | Updated 10/07/2014 05:59 EDT

How I Got Through My 16-Year Journey With Prostate Cancer

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I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the spring of 1998. My PSA levels were very low so I thought to myself, "well, maybe this isn't so bad." I worked with my doctor to monitor the progression of my condition and keep an eye on it as the years went by. Besides my regular check-ups, everything in my life remained the same.

Then, during one of my regular check-ups in 2010, I was told that my cancer had metastasized -- meaning it had spread to other places of my body. I was shocked. In a single visit, my cancer went from being something that was in the back of my mind, to becoming at the forefront of my life, with unanswered questions consuming my thoughts. Would I be well enough to continue doing the things I loved? Would I be able to still take my boat out fishing? Would I be around to see my grandchildren grow up? What was going to happen next? Despite all the questions and concerns that rumbled in my mind, one thing was for certain -- I wasn't going to let this beat me.

When you're faced with a diagnosis with something like advanced prostate cancer, it's important to identify your support system -- mine included my oncologist, wife and family.

Oncologist visits can often be overwhelming and daunting-- but mine are quite the contrary as my physician has this uncanny ability to make me feel good when I'm feeling down. She has been a source of positivity and hope, and I just knew that we would find a solution.

At the time of my diagnosis, chemotherapy was the only treatment option available to me. During this time, I couldn't walk because of my sore knees and joints, and I was fairly tired. What kept me going was my wife of 50 years, Lilly and my family. I wasn't ready to leave them yet and knew they were as shocked and frightened as I was. I had to keep going and knew that if I did, everything would be alright.

Unfortunately, after several rounds of chemotherapy, we found out that the treatment wasn't working for me and that the cancer was progressing. There was a sense of "what's next?" or even "what's left?" in terms of treatment options. My doctor then put me on an oral treatment, which helped to slow the progression of the cancer. I also felt less fatigued and was able regain some normalcy in my life by taking my boat out to go fishing, spending time watching my grandchildren play hockey and most importantly, being able to take Lilly out on our Sunday drives. We now refer to my cancer as "the sleeping giant." We know it's there but with this treatment it's dormant and hopefully won't wake up again for a long time.

One of my biggest takeaways from my 16-year journey with this disease is the power of a positive outlook. Facing a diagnosis with advanced prostate cancer can be extremely upsetting and I've been able to stay optimistic by having a strong support system by my side. With their help, I have been able to manage this disease for years and most importantly, continue to do the things I love. To learn more about advanced prostate cancer, people can visit Prostate Cancer Matters.


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