Cancer Story

A number of people have asked me how I came to discover I had prostate cancer. This is my story….

I had a few subtle symptoms early in 2004. I went to our family physician on the urging of my wife. The doctor asked why I was there, and after telling him of the symptoms, we figured that the main problem was stress brought on by numerous other things going on at the time. Life went on as normal. Around June of 2004, after going for a long strenuous walk, I noticed blood in my urine. Again I went to the doctor. Tests showed that I had a bladder infection. Antibiotics and I felt fine. A few months later, after a good walk and a bike ride to work, I again had blood in my urine. On contacting the doctor, he immediately set me up with a urologist. The urologist wanted to investigate the cause of the blood. A kidney scan was done and showed no problems. The urologist then wanted to check my bladder. A cystoscopy was done and although the bladder itself looked okay, he noticed a spot near the neck of the bladder that looked suspicious. He took a biopsy of the suspicious area. On December 13th, 2004 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I was a few weeks away from my 47th birthday and a Firefighter/EMT-A for just over 20 years. I was sent for tests to see if the cancer had gone beyond the prostate. I had a bone scan, x-rays, a CT scan and an MRI. A short time later, after a lot of false negatives (negatives being what you want for these tests) I was told that the cancer had gone well beyond the prostate capsule. Tests did show that the cancer had probably not gone into the bone. An abdominal lymph node biopsy showed definite spread to the lymph nodes. At this point my education began. The doctors gave me a lot of information…. But they couldn’t tell me that they would or could cure me. I took in the information they could give me and started research on my own. I gathered information from the Canadian Cancer Society, the Lance Armstrong Foundation various internet sites and Prostate Cancer Centers. I got numerous “second opinions”. The more doctors I saw, the more serious things seemed to be. At one point I was told I would be lucky to survive 3-5 years and would definitely not make the retirement age of 55. Needless to say I refuse to accept that sentence. I was given a few options for treatment and started on Hormone Deprivation Therapy with Eligard and Flutamide. I went to the Tom Baker Cancer Center to see an oncologist to see if there was anything further that could be done. I was offered radiation therapy as the only option. I talked to numerous doctors and got conflicting opinions on whether or not to go ahead with radiation. I contacted numerous other ‘specialists’. They could not offer any alternatives. After further research on the side effects of radiation therapy, long talks with family and friends and a lot of prayer and soul searching I made a decision. Radiation therapy started on April 18th and ended on June 7th with a total of 36 treatments. I suffered a few ‘side effects’ during the treatments but thankfully no long term problems.

I have had incredible support from my family, my extended family at the Lethbridge Fire Department and friends throughout the tests and treatments. As a result of all the support from my Fire Department family and my love of cycling, I thought I would try to do something to show my appreciation. During my research I discovered a lot of information that others need to be aware of. A lot of this information was made available by the CCS and the LAF. The plans for a cross Canada bike ride started to develop. I felt the urge to share my story and the information that I have found with firefighters as well as others and at the same time, hopefully raise some money for the organizations that have helped me and continue to help millions of others.

The benefit of your contribution will insure that these organizations can continue to help other cancer patients and their families.

If you have any other questions feel free to ask.

John