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Life in the Fast Lane: Our Cancer Journey

My husband David and I are prostate cancer survivors and ours is a story of resilience and triumph. Our story gives credence to the phrase "early detection saves lives." David was 49 when he had his first PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) test.
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My husband David and I are prostate cancer survivors and ours is a story of resilience and triumph. Our story gives credence to the phrase "early detection saves lives."

David was 49 when he had his first PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) test. He had gone in to see our doctor for his regular annual physical, a routine visit with one exception: In the week leading up to David's checkup I watched a news segment about prostate cancer and something about the story struck a chord with me. I couldn't get it out of my head, so on the day of David's appointment I wrote a note for our family doctor. It was succinct, and more of a demand than a request: "Dr. Burn, Please test David's PSA. Thank you Kelly." David was amused that I was sending him to the doctor with a note in hand but he assures me he found it endearing. When he presented my note to the doctor they both chuckled and the doctor reassured him there was no urgency. David was not exhibiting any symptoms, the prostate cancer screening process could wait until next year when he turned 50. "Dr. Burn, you and I both know that Kelly is not going to accept "next year" as an answer. We might as well do the test now so I don't have to come back next week!" David had the PSA test, and so began our prostate cancer journey.

A cancer diagnosis is overwhelming. Suddenly we were thrust into the medical system and often left feeling like insignificant cogs in a mighty wheel. We had so many questions and we wanted answers. An early stage prostate cancer diagnosis affords the patient several treatment options and it's critical that serious thought and consideration go into the final decision. We found comfort knowing that we had time to educate ourselves before deciding what treatment was the right treatment for David. Ultimately, we decided on brachytherapy, wherein a radioactive substance is placed directly into, or very close to the tumour.

I was amazed by David's swift recovery. He was admitted to the hospital in the morning, underwent the procedure and released later that day. Incredibly, he was back to work the very next day.David was fortunate-he experienced very few short term side effects and he experienced zero long term side effects. We discovered on this part of our journey that early detection does more than save lives, it preserves important body functions. All too often a cancer diagnosis is met with a knee-jerk reactions, but an early diagnosis gave us the gift of time. Time to consider our options, to decide what treatment option was right for us and ultimately, enjoy our future together.

In the years following David's cancer diagnosis my family and I have taken on the issue of men's health as a personal issue. We have used our high profile business as a platform to promote prostate cancer awareness and we have developed a strong alliance with PROSTAID Calgary. In fact, I am extremely proud to serve on their Board of Directors. I am also the facilitator of the PROSTAID Calgary Wives, Partners and Caregivers support group. We meet on the second Tuesday of every month at the Kerby Centre and on July 14th our guest speaker is Sarah Kerr. Sarah facilitates ceremonies that help participants integrate experiences of illness, death or loss. These rituals honour the spiritual significance of what is happening, and bring healing to individuals, families and communities. I hope you will join us!