It was just another ordinary trip to the doctor’s office. It was time for my annual physical which included a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test to screen for prostate cancer. Dr. Borrelli told me the levels from my test were too high, and he suspected prostate cancer. He sent me to an urologist for a biopsy, who confirmed his suspicion. We had just celebrated our great granddaughter’s birthday when my wife Rose and I learned that I had prostate cancer.
The urologist referred me to Dr. Roth, a surgeon. I had recently lost 45 pounds through Weight Watchers ™ and was feeling pretty good, but because of my heart and vascular condition I could not have surgery. Dr. Roth said the chances of my getting off the operating table alive were 50 – 50, so he suggested I see an oncologist. When I heard that news, I said “I’m going to Goshen. From what I hear, it’s the best in the state.” So the appointment was made with Dr. Wheeler who said it was pretty serious since my Gleason score was 8. I started radiation treatments soon after that meeting.
During my visit with Dr. Wheeler, I mentioned to him that I had osteoporosis. Since radiation can damage bones, Dr. Wheeler sent me to The Women’s Retreat for a DEXA bone scan. When we arrived, the receptionist looked at Rose and asked “You’re here for a mammogram?” Rose replied “No, I do need one, but he’s here for a bone scan.” So after they registered me, the receptionist turned to Rose and said “We can get you in for a mammogram now.” Rose replied “Well, it’s been nine years so I might as well get one since I’m here.” We went home after our tests and didn’t think much of it. I continued to have radiation treatments for my prostate cancer. Then we got a phone call saying Rose needed another mammogram. The second mammogram was followed by a biopsy which revealed Rose had breast cancer. Our family doctor suggested we see an Elkhart surgeon, but I told him no, she would come to Goshen with me. We went home and our daughter Patti called the Goshen cancer center’s Oncology Information office and spoke with Robyn. Within two days, Rose had an appointment with Dr. Henry. We were amazed with the treatment we received at Goshen. After Rose’s surgery, Dr. Henry called our home to let us know that there was no cancer in Rose’s lymph nodes. How amazing is that? A surgeon who actually called us! He also said it was a good thing that Rose had that mammogram, because it was so deep in the tissue, that she never would have felt it.
One day at the cancer center, a nurse said she thought it was almost romantic, the two of us in treatment at the same time. I told her “Well, it’s not what we would have chosen to do together,” but as Rose said “We’ve been through a lot, and we can get through this.” I came from a small family and always wondered what it would be like to have a big family. Well at age 65, I found out. Everyone at the Goshen cancer center treated me like family. But there was one person who was unbelievable, Leah Sherman, my Naturopathic doctor. Dr. Leah’s recommendations were a great help to both of us. As a result, Rose and I had very few side effects. Leah was always there when we needed her, not only to help us get stronger physically, but also mentally. When I wanted to quit treatment, Leah talked with me so I could get past my discouragement.
Some of our most memorable life events have involved cancer. Our 45th wedding anniversary was July 8. We had six appointments at the cancer center that day. I suspect it was the most unusual anniversary that we will ever have together. September 1st, while we were at the cancer center, our home was robbed. We were devastated, but Leah encouraged us through another tough time. Shortly after the robbery, our daughters and grandchildren nominated Rose for a Hello Gorgeous makeover. On October 4, Rose was the surprise recipient of the Hello Gorgeous makeover at The Women’s Expo. It was a great day for all of us.
Through all the ups and downs, Rose and I both believed that The Man upstairs was watching over us. As we told the nurse that day, it’s not what we would have chosen, but somehow it came out okay.