Sunday, November 5, 2023

Prostate Cancer Journey: Mission Accomplished

 This isn’t going to be a long post, but I wanted to share that I passed a milestone recently. Actually, I passed a couple of them. 

First, I had my third PSA test since my surgery last February. The results were good in that my PSA levels were undetectable. As I explained in an earlier post, PSA is the prostate-specific antigen and is an indicator of possible cancer. There can be other causes for an elevated PSA level, but since I no longer have a prostate, my PSA level should be nil. Undetectable is a blessedly good thing, especially after the biopsy found traces of cancer in my lymph node.

Second, and of lesser importance but more fun, I ran my first race since my surgery. I’ve been running for a few years now and with regards to my skill, I can honestly say that I’m a member in good standing of the “Slow Runners Community” on Facebook.

I’ve actually picked up running again for a while now on a recreational basis. I logged my first post-op run on April 19, just under two months after surgery. It was an easy two-miler and I didn’t set any speed records, but it felt good. 

In one of my early posts about my cancer, I referenced a goal of returning to both the cockpit and running by the end of the year. I mentioned the possibility of doing a race with an “Outrunning Cancer” t-shirt. I didn’t know if such a product existed, but my parents found one. I didn’t feel like putting it on for a long time.

Fast-forward to the end of October. With the year drawing to a close, I was thinking about a comeback race to fulfill my goal. The Big Dog Howl 5K was coming up in about a week and I had the weekend off. It seemed like the right time to bring out the shirt. 

Let me tell you, folks, I surprised myself. Like Forest Gump, I just started running and my competitive streak kicked in as it normally does when I’m in a race. I always seem to run a little faster when I’m trying to pass someone or avoid getting passed. It never feels good when a mom blows by you pushing a stroller.

Competitiveness doesn’t usually make up for my age and lack of natural talent, but on that night, I ran my heart out and my official time was 27 minutes 26.76 seconds, which was my third-fastest 5K time on record. I finished fourth in my age group and was only six seconds behind the third-place finisher who later told me, “You should have tripped me.” (We won’t talk about the first two finishers in our age group, who were evidently some sort of cyborg.)

My finish line photo courtesy of the Columbus Road Runners Facebook page.

I have to mention a funny story that happened on the way to the finish line as well. This was a Halloween race so a lot of the runners were in costume. (If anyone is interested, race and costume photos are on the Columbus Road Runners Facebook page.) About midway through the race, I looked and there was a woman running beside me in a devil costume. 

I looked over at her and said, “I just have to say this: Get behind me, Satan,” as I put on a burst of speed.

She laughed and replied, “That’s a good one,” but alas, my burst of speed didn’t hold out and she finished just ahead of me. 

After the race, we also spoke with Bob Jeswald, a local weatherman and running aficionado. Bob congratulated me on my recovery and we discussed the possibility of future race benefitting prostate cancer research as well as him helping to plug me into local groups where I can help other prostate cancer sufferers. We’ll see what happens with that, but I’m excited about the possibility. I’ve already talked to several people who are on their own prostate cancer journies and I think such conversations have been good for both me and them. 

The next step is to get another PSA test in three months, which also coincides with a six-month visit with my doctor. I am extremely grateful to God and Dr. Sanda that things have turned out this well. 

October marked the anniversary of the beginning of my prostate cancer journey. It began with a routine physical in October 2022 that detected my elevated PSA level. After that, it took a bit to get referred to a urologist and get a biopsy. 

At this point, I think I’ve gotten past the worst of it. I am feeling pretty normal in both a physical and psychological sense. I can do most things that used to do (although some I’ll never do again, but that’s another story) and am probably running a little bit better than a year ago (at least on that one day). 

The fear and shock that gripped me for much of the spring has receded, but it’s still hard to forget that cancer is probably still in there somewhere. These days, rather than being at the forefront of my mind, it’s more like the cancer haunts me. It’s not all I think about, but it’s also never very far away. That’s progress, and I think that it will haunt me to some extent for the rest of my life. 

I do feel that I’ve grown closer to God throughout the ordeal. It has helped me learn to put my trust in him. In the end, there is absolutely nothing I can do to fight cancer. It’s in his hands.

Thank you for reading My Prostate Cancer Journey. This post is public so feel free to share it.


As a final thought, if you have a sedentary lifestyle, consider taking up running or walking. I think that running helped me in my journey by making me more physically fit when I was diagnosed than I would have been a few years earlier. I’ve never been fat, but I was thick around the middle. When I started running and hiking regularly, I watched the pounds melt away and went down two pants sizes in a few months. 

More than weight, I was concerned about my heart as I got older. Running, walking, and hiking have made my heart stronger and lowered my resting heart rate dramatically. Being more physically active can help to mitigate a wide variety of ailments. 

There are many forms of exercise, but what I love about running and walking are the low barriers to entry. All you really need is a decent pair of shoes and the discipline to get up off the couch and put one foot in front of the other. 

You can also do it pretty much anywhere. While on the road, I’m often able to walk outside the hotel and immediately start a run. If that’s not the case for you, check out AllTrails to find a good place to run nearby. 

The running community is very supportive of newbies. You don’t have to be a competitive runner to benefit and a lot of runners, me included, happily enter races knowing that winning is not an option. The purpose is to better yourself and just be able to finish. 

You win just by taking part.

My Prostate Cancer Journey is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

Please keep in mind that I am not a medical professional and this blog does not provide individualized medical advice. If you think you are sick, you should seek treatment from a real doctor.

My Prostate Cancer Journey is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

My Prostate Cancer Journey is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

From My Prostate Cancer Journey 

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