Darren Hamrick is a Team Leader in our [...]
According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men (after skin cancer), but it can often be treated successfully. More than 2 million men in the US count themselves as prostate cancer survivors. 1 in 6 men will get prostate cancer but it is very treatable if caught early.
On November 4, 2015, having shown no symptoms, my doctor told me I had prostate cancer. One would never know I had cancer growing in my body if my doctor had not caught the elevated levels of Protein Specific Antigen (PSA) through my routine bloodwork. At the time I was 54 and because of my age and early detection I had a number of options including radiation, surgery or “active surveillance” (doing nothing). I chose a laparoscopic surgical procedure done with a robot. The surgery was done on December 17th and I was back at work in three weeks. On January 28th I had a follow up appointment and all tests came back good; they were able to remove all the cancer. I had good pathology reports and my PSA score was ZERO.
I thought and prayed a lot about this and decided early on that I wanted to be open about having cancer. I wanted to ask others to pray for me and support me. And I received an overwhelming amount of support during that time. I intentionally tried to be vulnerable about what I learned.
I feel very blessed to have had to go through this process because it has taught me so much.
1. Prostate cancer is very common. 1 in 6 men will get prostate cancer. And it is a very treatable cancer if caught early.
2. We grow by being vulnerable. I really grew through this process and learned a lot about myself. I really connected with my family and my friends during this time because you get to a point where you realize you need prayers and support and help during the process. I’m glad I allowed myself to be vulnerable during the process.
3. I learned it means so much for people to pray for you. I had so many people telling me that they were praying for me. Calls and texts were so encouraging and really lifted my spirits. Because of the outpouring support, I went into surgery with a real positive frame of mind. Through everyone’s support, I learned that I want to do more for other people in that way. I want to encourage others and let them know I’m thinking and praying for them because that made such a difference for me. It was really interesting to me that we can truly be lifted up when we are facing adversity.
4. This verse took on special meaning for me during this time. “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18. It is no coincidence that this is the page I turned to that very next morning after my diagnosis and it was something I was constantly reminded of every day.
5. Lastly, I came away from this experience with a strong desire to give back because I feel so incredibly blessed. I want to talk to other men about prostate cancer and let them know I am supporting them.
Every situation is different. Luckily for me, all the common options were on the table. In my case at my age, I felt like I needed to deal with it because our goal (my wife and mine) was for me to be cancer-free.
After surgery, the pathology report showed that I had more cancer than originally thought. The doctor affirmed that I made the right decision. Since again there were no symptoms and no pain, I encourage everyone to go for their routine checkups because early detection is what saved my life.