The Beginning …
During the summer of 2018, at the age of only 37 years old, I went in to visit my primary care physician, for my first official appointment since moving to Austin in 2017. Thanks to my wife whom I’ve been with for fifteen years, I have become accustomed to appreciating regular checkups. During this initial appointment, my PCP, Dr. Ann Hathcock, asked me a series of routine questions related to family history. My grandmother, at that time was suffering from stage 4 breast cancer and there were several members of my family on my father’s side who had experienced some sort of cancer. She entered that information and ran a series of blood tests when she did my panel. One of those tests was a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. Prior to meeting with my doctor, I had never heard of a PSA test, but based on the first meeting with Dr. Ann, as many of her patients affectionately call her, I never questioned any of her decisions, because it was evident from the beginning that she was a thorough and intentional doctor.
The Turning Point
When my tests came back, Dr. Ann noted that all of my bloodwork was great; however, she had concerns about my PSA levels and wanted to look into them further. She stated that she was going to immediately place me on a strong antibiotic for 30 days, because initially, she thought it could be Prostatitis, a prostate infection, and that surely the round of antibiotics would resolve my PSA levels. After 30 days, the PSA test was rerun, and my levels only came down a couple of points. My doctor wanted me to go through another 30-day round of antibiotics, which I did, but when the results came back, they’d gone up higher than they’d been initially. When I tell this story, I remain amazed that none of this ever rattled me, because I felt healthy as a horse, and my health had never indicated otherwise.
The Next Level
Dr. Ann made me aware that she was going to send me to a urologist so that they could perform a biopsy. She explained that usually truck drivers get prostate infections since these infections develop from sitting too much. This was applicable to me because I am an administrator for a school district and writer in my spare time, so traditionally, I spend a lot of time sitting. I was sent to Urology Austin, likely the largest urology practice in the Austin area. The urologist who performed my prostate biopsy was also the person that notified me that I had stage 1 prostate cancer. I feel that in many ways, I remained stuck in that moment, because up until being told by a board-certified urologist that I had cancer, I never once even considered it a possibility, and this was largely because of NO SYMPTOMS.
Listen, early detection saved my life. I thank GOD that my primary care physician had the wherewithal to test my PSA levels. Me being young has afforded me the ability to bounce back with ease. I don’t have many of the complications most men have, and I attribute most of that to early detection. Dr. Eric Giesler of Urology Austin performed my radical prostatectomy on June 13, 2019, and his hands are blessed. I’ve been told I am the youngest man diagnosed in Austin, TX. I am grateful to be alive and still have the quality of life which makes it possible for me to spread awareness related to the benefits of detecting prostate cancer early. Simply put, the earlier the better.
ZERO SUMMIT 2020
I’m more than excited to join the movement toward eradicating prostate cancer for good. This February I’ll be joining that fight in Washington, D.C. at the annual ZERO Prostate Cancer Summit, advocating for young men of all ethnicities, so that they understand this is not solely a disease targeting elderly men. In times when I could be down on myself for having endured such a frightening reality, I choose to hold my head up high, because as a result of such a reality, I am able to be a blessing to other men who need me the most.