My prostate cancer journey began October 13, 2014. It was the day after the Long Beach marathon, my 120th marathon overall. My PSA was 555. I waited ten days to retest and found it to be 633! It was time to see a urologist. He started me on Cipro and Flomax to no avail. 2015 revelations: my core biopsies came back malignant, a Gleason of GL7 and some GL8, PSA at 840. So I was off to oncology.
Nilesh Vora MD – The Bold Medical Oncologist Who Saved My Life
Dr. Vora started ADT (Lupron/Casodex) and then chemo, as the CHAARTED & STAMPEDE research showed an increase of 17 months overall survival. Five sessions in, PSA in the teens, Dr. Vora asked a Tumor Board for advice. No one would agree to more Taxotere so Dr. Vora told me “I’ll give you more chemo until the numbers plateau, or you tell me to stop.” I had nine more treatments, 15 total in 2015. In 2017, my PSA nadir of 0.1 was a predictor of treatment success.
Running from Cancer
Dr. Vora told me that I should take six months off from running. I had already signed up for the Surf City Marathon on Super Bowl Sunday 2015. I had actually done three marathons after Long Beach, but Surf City was the first under ADT (Androgen Deprivation Therapy). I had a race bib back!
I received so many “thumbs up”, “God Bless” or “Good Luck” comments at that race. And at those that followed, numerous individuals came up and spoke to me, sharing of their own battle or that of a spouse. By May’s Orange County Marathon I had Legacy status, meaning I had completed all of them. I wanted to keep my streak and I finished it, despite being three days post-chemo.
I’ve Been to the Mountaintop
September 2017, a Tehachapi patient and I summited Mount Whitney (14,505 feet), carrying this banner. It took twice as long to traverse the 11 miles up and back, as I was in the midst of ADT.
Running with ZERO
I ran the 2017 Los Angeles ZERO 5K race and placed third of the PCa survivors. ZERO’s West Coast director Vanessa Peterson emailed me and sent me my 3rd place prize. That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, a la Casablanca. I’ve completed three NYC marathons with Team ZERO, raising over $11K for education, research, and outreach.
Team Kam Ohana at the Inaugural Bakersfield 5K event in November 2018. 28 patients and staff showed up at the 46-degree start, 45 minutes from Tehachapi.
Running for the Fallen
May 5, 2019 will be the Orange County marathon, my fifth in a row since the diagnosis and my 150th marathon overall. There’s a #WalkWithRandy event for people to join me at mile 24 or earlier to walk, finish, and celebrate with me.
What Comes Next?
My mission had been to get men screened for prostate cancer. But now I also honor the men who were taken by PCa – wearing their names proudly on my back bib. I’ll wear a back bib like this at the Orange County marathon.
September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and October 2019 will be my five-year survival month. Old statistics stated a Stage IV PCa victim had a 28% chance of living five years. My son and I plan to walk the final 110km of The Camino (The Way) pilgrimage in Spain in September to celebrate both. I will place blue ribbons along the path.
What Men Need to Do
- Get health screenings! At age 57, I had no symptoms and thought a healthy lifestyle was protection against prostate cancer. I was wrong.
- Get informed! Go to www.zerocancer.org or check out ZERO’s Connect Facebook page and post queries, solicit opinions, share successes, and mourn those who’ve passed.
- Get involved! Sign up for a 5K event, support us survivors and get a free PSA test.
- Fight on! Keep healthy to stay in the game and always.