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by The Hoetgers   |   July 3, 2019

A Couple’s Journey: Our 10th Anniversary of Prostate Cancer

Ten years ago on June 19 our lives changed forever! We were at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base sitting in the doctor’s office and Ray’s urologist uttered the words no family ever wants to hear: “I am sorry to say you have prostate cancer, and it is an aggressive form.” Immediately came the tears, disbelief, anger, and fear. I literally felt like I hit a brick wall full force.

Ray had a prostatectomy on October 12, 2009, and after the surgery the doctor came out to give me an update. I was praying for good news, but that was not the case. The cancer had spread outside the prostate into the lymph-nodes. My heart sank again. That brick wall was back!

We both are dealing with changes in our lives and some people will understand what we are going through on this cancer journey. Prostate cancer is a couples’ disease. Every three months Ray gets his PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) test done. Until the results return undetectable, it’s stressful for both of us. Thankfully Ray has been in remission for a while now. I will not say he is cured as we know that cancer can return at anytime. The unknown scares me, but Ray and I know to take it one day at a time.

I could have chosen to sit back and say poor me, but I chose to be an advocate of prostate cancer awareness! They say there is a reason we were chosen for this mission in life, even though I don’t understand it right now, but one day I actually might! It has been said that God gives us what we can handle, and it can either make me stronger or make me weak. I have certainly felt both!

In 2012, I started advocating and raising prostate cancer awareness by working with ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer because it advances research, improves the lives of men and families, and inspires action. Working with ZERO has given me so many more opportunities to help raise awareness and to be part of ending prostate cancer.

Ray is a 20-year Air Force veteran. Veterans exposed to herbicides and chemicals, such as Agent Orange, are at an increased risk of developing prostate cancer and are also more likely to have an aggressive form of the disease. Now, on top of everything, we need to prove that the herbicides and chemicals that he was exposed to in the military contributed to his prostate cancer.

My husband, like countless other veterans, fought for our nation, our freedom, and our safety. It’s time that we return the favor and fight for him! We need to fight for all men in the hopes they will live prostate cancer free lives! It’s time we breakdown that brick wall and end prostate cancer!