Thomas James: My name is Tom James. I am from South Windsor, Connecticut. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in October 1999. That diagnosis just came after a simple doctor’s check up that I went for and my PSA was elevated. He suggested that I go see a urologist to have a biopsy done. The biopsy came back positive.
The urologist told me that ‘I have good news for you and I have bad news. The bad news is you have cancer; the good news is it’s inside the gland and has not traveled outside the gland’. Of course when I heard that news I cried. My wife cried. When I spoke to my urologist he was talking to me like I wasn’t human, like I wasn’t even real. His voice was so monotone, you know, there was no feeling there, you know and I am sitting there in pain, with this cancer diagnosis. I am hurting.
I did go see another doctor there and he confirmed the same thing. He offered me treatment options of surgery or radiation, he offered the options to me, and then what happened was I was telling to my sister Barbara about it who is an RN who lives in New Jersey, and we had a friend of ours who lived there and wasn’t happy with her treatment for breast cancer and had to go out to Midwestern Regional Medical Center.
So I told my sister Barbara the story and she said, “You have to go off to this place called Midwestern Regional Medical Center which is a part of Cancer Treatment Centers of America.” When I first called I spoke with a gentleman by the name of Doug White at Midwestern Regional in Zion, and Doug told me to send out my information, have my pathology reports sent out, have my insurance information sent out, and I had it sent out, and of course you know, it’s uncomfortable to leave your home and go to some place you don’t know. However, my wife and I did go out there.
When I first walked into CTCA I couldn’t believe it was a hospital. It didn’t look like a hospital; it didn’t smell like a hospital and everybody was friendly and they welcomed me and it was a nice experience to be there.
Nobody wants to have cancer – nobody, you know I think that when you hear that word ‘cancer’ it just hits you right in your gut but I was determined. My doctor at Midwestern said, “You known Tom, we are going to fight this aggressively because you have an aggressive form of prostate cancer”, and they did and that day was the day I began to fight it aggressively. I am so happy I did.
At Cancer Treatment Centers you just feel like a person and not just a disease there you know, and they are interested in the total you. I would say to people who asked me why did you go so far, and I always say, “How far would you go to save your life?”
And in the lobby of CTCA there is a gold leafed tree, it’s called the survivor’s tree, and I remember touching it and I said, “One day my name is going to be on that tree”, and my name is on that tree. And every time I go I touch and I just say ‘thank God’.