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Robert McDowell

Prostate cancer - Stage I

This testimonial includes a description of this patient’s actual medical results. Those results may not be typical or expected for the particular disease type described in this testimonial. You should not expect to experience these results.

View CTCA treatment results for prostate cancer

Overview

My story

When I was 56 years old, a coworker in the police force in Jackson, Mississippi had a wellness physical required by our health insurance. He had great things to say about the physician he saw and he urged me to see her. I was hesitant because I was not sure I could afford the cost of a physical, but when he explained the examination was part of our insurance, I decided he was right. It was time for a physical.

The doctor asked me when I last had a physical, and I told her I’d never really had one. Whenever I had gone in for check-ups, I just had my reflexes, blood pressure and urine checked. She thought I should have a colonoscopy. Then she gave me blood tests, an eye exam, a kidney exam, and by the end of the physical, told me my PSA score was high and I needed to see an oncologist.

I had the colonoscopy and three weeks later went to see a local oncologist. The oncologist needed to do a biopsy in order to understand whether my PSA score was cause for alarm. I had the biopsy a few weeks later, and several days afterward, received a letter from the oncologist’s office telling me he wanted me to come in. A few days later, I sat in his office where he informed me I had prostate cancer and told me my options. He recommended surgery. If the cancer had spread, he’d continue treatment.

Refusing surgery

At first, I told no one about my diagnosis, only my wife and one friend. But as I started telling some friends at work, word spread and suddenly I was being given all kinds of information and support. All that information made me realize I did not want to have surgery. I wanted to take a different route.

I saw a commercial for Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) and decided to call, figuring it was a start at getting a second opinion. I called at 11 o’clock one night and was amazed when someone answered. Within a matter of days, my insurance OK’d for me to receive treatment at CTCA and I had a flight scheduled to Chicago to visit the CTCA hospital in the city’s northern suburbs.

When I met my doctor at CTCA, he asked me what I was looking for. I told him I wanted to be treated without surgery, and he told me that I’d come to the right place for comprehensive options. After we came up with my treatment plan, he gave me leuprolide injections to help stop the cancer from spreading.

Three months later, I returned to CTCA to undergo several weeks of radiation treatment. I also followed the suggestions made by the naturopathic clinician who was part of my care team. I tried to take advantage of all the services offered at CTCA, like acupuncture, massage and mind-body techniques. These don’t replace medical care, but I felt like they helped with side effects.

At CTCA, the treatments went well and did not cause pain, and I met so many people. I started hanging around the kitchen a lot, and Chef Julie took time to talk with me about cooking and even gave me a cookbook she’d written and some of her culinary books from when she was in school. And when I started to want to help other people facing a cancer diagnosis, Angela with the Cancer Fighters Care Net, took me under her wing to provide training about how to be there for others.

A changed outlook

Today I am in recovery and am no longer undergoing treatment for cancer. I try to eat healthy and exercise, and live life to the fullest. Going through treatment changed my outlook on life. I learned how much I enjoy speaking with other people as a way to give back. I feel like I’ve been given a chance to help others and I want to honor that.

When I speak with people, I always recommend considering adding a cancer policy to their health insurance and having an annual physical. And for people who are diagnosed with cancer, I always recommend getting a second and even a third opinion about their treatment.

My wife of 15 years, Katrina, has been my caregiver throughout my treatment. Now we are planning trips, thinking about where we can go cycling and enjoying life together more than ever. I also know when I retire, volunteering at CTCA for at least one month every year is something I definitely want to do.

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