My father died at 54 from prostate cancer, and his brother had prostate cancer at the same time. I have several cousins who also have this problem, so I knew that I needed to get screened since prostate cancer runs in my family. I was also having certain symptoms: incontinence, pain in my groin, and ED [erectile dysfunction].
I had a PSA test, and it came out negative. My doctor thought the symptoms might be stress, as I had many jobs, including taking care of my mother’s farm. But even though the doctors could not find anything, I knew something was wrong. I was 55, and there was no reason to have ED or problems going to the bathroom.
I was sent to another doctor, and he did 10 biopsies and found the cancer. In 2008, I had surgery, a radical prostatectomy. The surgeon removed my prostate, fatty tissue surrounding it that might be cancerous, and several lymph nodes.
The road to recovery after surgery was very hard. The incontinence was still there for a bit but then it abated. I was worried before the surgery about sexual issues, but even though I had a radical procedure, my surgeon saved my nerves, and eventually I didn’t have ED problems any more.
After my cancer, I changed my ways. I was just a regular guy in rural Texas. We eat a lot of meat, go to a lot of parties, drink a lot of beer, and that’s what I was doing. I wasn’t exercising. After my surgery, I quit smoking, and I cut back on drinking. I started going to the track to exercise for at least 35 to 40 minutes a day, even in bad weather. I started eating lots of vegetables and salads. Now I rarely eat meat, except occasionally at family barbecues.
Having cancer also made me rethink my life. I started working less and spending more time with my family. I’m a prose poet and wrote a book about my journey, talking about my fears and experience.
Today, I feel great. I still go every 6 months for checkups. Early detection saved my life. I feel very blessed.
Daryl’s Life Lessons
- “Be an advocate for your own health. If you feel something is wrong and your doctor doesn’t find anything, get another opinion.”
- “If you have symptoms, run, do not walk, to your doctor.”
- “I believe that men should get screened for prostate cancer, especially if they have a family history.”