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Video: Thomas James - Prostate Cancer SurvivorProstate Cancer Survivor
Cancer Prostate Cancer
CTCA Hospital Treating at
Care Team Includes
Treatments at CTCA
- Is a 12-year+ prostate cancer survivor
- Enjoys spending time with his young neighbor Luciano, who is fighting acute lymphoblastic leukemia
- Speaks with others fighting prostate cancer through the CTCA Patient-to-Patient Network
- Is an active member of CTCA Cancer Fighters® and has served on the CTCA Patient Advisory Council
"Friends and other family members have asked me, 'Why did you travel so far away from home?' My answer to them, 'How far would you go to save your life?'"
Thomas James, South Windsor, CT
The letters "C-A-N-C-E-R" by themselves mean nothing, however when they are connected together they form one of the most frightening words that an individual will hear. After hearing the words, “Tom, we found some cancer in your prostate,” I immediately assumed that my life was ending, which is probably the thinking of many people who have been diagnosed with cancer.
I went through a series of emotions, shock, denial, and finally acceptance, and with that a determination to fight. My fight began with spending hours on the computer searching for prostate cancer information. After exhausting that, I sought a second opinion. The next step was informing my family members.
My sister Barbara had accompanied a family friend who was being treated at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) at Midwestern Regional Medical Center (Midwestern). She was so impressed by the treatment our friend was getting at CTCA that she insisted, “Tom, that’s the place for you!” Of course I was hesitant about traveling to a place so far from home, but when it’s your life, you’ll go wherever it leads.
On January 6, 2000, my wife and I traveled to Midwestern for a consultation visit. We were very impressed. I decided to undergo treatment there and on January 26, 2000, I returned. It wasn’t easy to leave home, my family and familiar places, to go to a place where I knew no one. However, that would change during my five weeks of radiation treatment.
The staff at Midwestern treated me like a person, not a diagnosis. They not only took care of my medical needs, but were always available to answer questions and address concerns I might have. I made several friends from all over the U.S. during my five weeks at Midwestern. I am still in contact with them today. We became a support system for each other. We prayed together, ate meals together and at times we cried together.
One of the things I remember is that survivor’s tree in the lobby with the gold leaves bearing the names of survivors. I feel confident that I will add my name to that tree: Tom James–a survivor. Friends and other family members have asked me, “Why did you travel so far away from home?” My answer to them, “How far would you go to save your life?”
At CTCA, they go beyond the treatment. They care about the whole person—mind, body and spirit. Indeed they are Cancer Fighters!
July 16, 2010
It’s been more than 10 years since my original diagnosis, and today I am feeling wonderful. There have been two tough times I’ve gone through in recent years, but things overall are going good.
This April, my sister who encouraged me to go to CTCA passed away. I miss her every day. I try to think about the good times she and I shared. In 2008, I had a prostate cancer recurrence. My PSA level had gone up and my doctor at Midwestern had me undergo testing right away to look into it. The cancer had come back. It’s bad enough to be diagnosed with this stuff once, but twice! I just could not believe that after eight years of it being gone, all of a sudden this monster had returned.
Once my recurrence happened, I transferred my treatment from Midwestern to CTCA at Eastern Regional Medical Center (Eastern) in Philadelphia to be closer to my home in Connecticut. I underwent five weeks of radiation treatment at Eastern. Though I changed hospitals, the treatment I received from the staff at Eastern was equal to the treatment that I got at Midwestern. The ball was not dropped. It was hard to leave my doctor and friends at Midwestern, but I quickly became close with my new “family” at Eastern.
I still go back for checkups every four months. I always get “scanxiety” when I have to go back for tests. But, it’s something all cancer patients go through. They think, “Here we go again…another scan.”
I love speaking with others who are fighting cancer. One way I do this is by participating in the CTCA Patient-to-Patient Network, which connects people who are exploring their options and looking into treatment at CTCA with patients like myself. I think the network is a wonderful tool. I’ve made many friends from the Patient-to-Patient Network.
I also enjoy being a member of the CTCA Patient Advisory Council (PAC) and being involved in the Cancer Fighters® program. I had an opportunity last year to throw out the first pitch at a baseball game in upstate New York for Cancer Fighters.
Something else that’s been important to me is being there for my young neighbor Luciano. He is seven years old and fighting acute lymphoblastic leukemia. We inspire each other and look forward to our times together.