Winning the Prostate Cancer Battle
When WebMD community member Chuck Warren was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he turned to friends to find the strength to fight it.
Four years ago, Santa gave me the worst Christmas present I'd ever received.
The day after the most joyous holiday of the year, my doctor called and
delivered the news that I had prostate cancer.
Because my dad had prostate cancer decades before, I had been going to a
urologist since I turned 40 to have a PSA [prostate-specific antigen test].
Recently, my PSA had shot up very high, to 29, and the following biopsy
confirmed that I had a highly aggressive tumor. At 50 years old, I faced the
biggest battle of my life.
I soon realized that I knew very little about the disease, so I turned to
the Internet for answers. I may not have done the best search, but all the
articles I read were discouraging -- no stories of survivors, just facts and
data that led me to believe that cancer would be the death of me. I also had
two friends who had died of the disease, so my confidence was pretty
I contacted an old acquaintance who had walked this road before. Hamilton
Jordan, three-time cancer survivor and former White House Chief of Staff under
President Jimmy Carter, was a busy man. But he wasn't too busy to cheer up a
"Don't worry," Hamilton assured me. "They caught it early.
You're going to beat this." He recommended that I visit his urologist
at Emory Healthcare in Atlanta. And I did. Hamilton also dropped off a
copy of his book, No Such Thing as a Bad Day, and in it he’d written a
most moving personal letter which brings tears to my eyes every time I read it.
After that, I was ready for a fight.
My Emory physician, Dr. Fray Marshall, and his team of urologists echoed
Hamilton's optimism about my prognosis and advised me of my treatment options.
Because of my age, surgery was the best option, and I decided to have the tumor
removed. True, the downside of this choice is not so appealing. I tell men who
are fearful of surgery they have three options: death, impotence, and
incontinence -- pick two. This gets a chuckle, but it also allows me to explain
that there are ways of getting through incontinence and impotence.
Before my own operation, however, I got more bad news. Dr. Marshall found a
tumor in my kidney. When I heard this, I was devastated and probably scared for
the first time. I recall I asked the old question, “Why?” and knew I needed to
find the fight in my soul that I had when preparing for prostate surgery. A
part of the strength came from my wife, who is incredibly strong. She
comes from a family of doctors. She was kind when I needed a word of kindness
and she could also give me that kick I needed when it was time to fight.