Keith R.

Prostate Cancer - Stage 1


My experience was really positive because I sensed that everyone I interacted with truly cared about me. From the doctors, clinicians and nurses to the cafeteria workers, valet and custodial employees, I was treated with warmth and dignity. They knew I was as a patient, but they treated me like a family member. They wanted to see me get better; they wanted me to heal.

I grew up in Indiana and spent most of my years there. I am incredibly blessed to have the most amazing wife. One of my proudest days was when she obtained her doctorate in nursing. Together, we have six children: five boys and one girl. I earned my bachelor’s degree in business administration at Indiana University and obtained a master’s degree from Cleveland State University in public administration. More recently, I attended Grand Canyon University and earned two master’s degrees.

My cancer story started in 1992, when I was 32 years old. I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. It had metastasized, and I was told I may not survive or be able to have children again. However, I beat the odds. I fought the cancer, and I had more children. I spent the next two decades working and raising my family.

Then in 2014, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Six months later, I found out I had kidney cancer. My thyroid and part of one of my kidneys were removed. This time in my life was very tough because I was in treatment for so long and fought so hard.

I sought treatment from a large cancer center because I knew I needed expert care for everything I was dealing with. There were good days and bad, but my treatment seemed to be going well, and I was progressing as expected. During this time, I really leaned on God to walk beside me in my treatment journey. I sought to strengthen my relationship with him, and I prayed a lot.

I was focused on building my ministry during this time, and I attended a training session sponsored by Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA).* It is called Our Journey of Hope® (OJOH). The Cancer Care Leadership Training is an opportunity for pastors, ministers and Christian leaders to come together to learn about the need, the vision and the process for providing hope and encouragement to people living with cancer. It was a two-day immersion training for prayer, counsel and assistance, and is centered on bringing God's hope to patients and their caregivers, family and friends.

I had such a great experience at this training. I was excited to share my faith and encourage others. Then, at one of my check-ups, I found out I had prostate cancer. I was shocked because I fought so hard and thought I was moving forward. It didn’t take long for my wife and I to decide that I would seek treatment at CTCA®. I wanted personalized, whole-person care. I wanted to be treated as an individual and not just a number. At the OJOH training, I had learned about the unique care CTCA provided, and I was impressed from the start.

When I went to the CTCA hospital for my initial evaluation, I was scared, nervous and really struggling emotionally. I wondered how much one person could possibly handle. Each time I was diagnosed, I worried that this might be the last. I thought of the baseball analogy that after three strikes, you’re out. So, what would a fourth diagnosis bring? I leaned on God to provide me faith and hope. I prayed a lot. I remembered from my last bout with cancer that God told me it is He who keeps me alive. That’s when I decided I'm not going to worry about anything else. I’ll leave it in God’s hands.

Leaning on faith

On that first visit, I met with my care team to discuss treatment. The doctors and clinicians were so caring and supportive. I could feel God in the hospital as soon as my wife and I walked through the doors. We both felt safe and at peace. I underwent tests and scans so that we had a better assessment of my cancer. Then I met with a medical oncologist, radiation oncologist and urologic oncologist, who explained my diagnosis and offered me various options for treatment. I had the opportunity to ask a lot of questions, and I never felt rushed. My wife has worked in health care a long time, and my care team made sure she was included and comfortable in the decisions.

I chose to have a prostatectomy with robotic surgery. Using small holes, they removed my prostate. I preferred this option because it was minimally invasive, and my recovery time would be faster. The surgery went well.

My experience was really positive because I sensed that everyone I interacted with truly cared about me. From the doctors, clinicians and nurses to the cafeteria workers, valet and custodial employees, I was treated with warmth and dignity. At CTCA, they knew I was as a patient, but they treated me like a family member. They wanted to see me get better; they wanted me to heal. CTCA provides whole-person care because they know that your mind and spirit have to be strong so you can focus on fighting the cancer.

Supporting others

I am blessed that my amazing family and friends were by my side throughout cancer treatment. It is really important to surround yourself with good people who care. You need people you can talk to and pray with. At CTCA, I had an amazing care team of doctors and clinicians who were focused on personalizing my treatment. I have made it to where I am today because of these people in my life.

All my life, I have loved talking with people and helping them. I believe we were all put on this earth to help one another. I have made it my mission to try to make this world a better place.

After my cancer diagnosis, I really focused on my ministry. I’m not a pastor, so I don’t have a congregation. I tell others that my church is the streets. I lean on God to show me where he wants me to go and who he wants me to help. I have the ability to reach the people who need it most. Maybe they have lost their way or have strayed from God. I go and find them.

I teach at Grand Canyon University, and I love helping the students. I also focus on my marriage ministry. I help couples complete Christian premarital counseling, I preside over weddings, and I counsel married couples. I have a health ministry focused on helping those facing a major health crisis such as cancer. I try to do what I can to make other people’s lives better. God has made my life better because I am still here. I've had some struggles, but I'm here with a newfound purpose.

I often share my cancer story and experience at CTCA. I say to others who have been diagnosed with cancer to at least go and get a second opinion at CTCA. It is important that you find the right treatment for you. At CTCA, you focus not only on beating the cancer but also on maintaining a good quality of life. You never know how long your cancer journey will last, so it is important that you stay strong during it.

I express to others that in order to get through cancer treatment, you have to have hope. You must stay positive and push aside negative thoughts. If you believe in God, have faith in him and the path he has planned for you. I suggest people read the bible and study the scriptures, which really helped me.

I am at the point in my life that I know nothing is ever promised. Only God knows how long I will live. I take each day as it comes, and I want to live the best life I can. I hope I have done some good things, and I want to continue to make a difference. I focus on helping others because I believe that is what I am called to do. I get up each day focused on making an impact in the lives of others.

 * Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) is now City of Hope®, working together to expand patient access to personalized, comprehensive cancer care. Because this patient testimonial was written and published before CTCA® and City of Hope joined forces, mentions of legacy CTCA locations have not been updated in the interest of maintaining the patient’s original voice and story details.

September 2013
Treatment at:
Care team