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As a civilian partner working for the Army for many years following his time in Vietnam, Jim didn’t suspect anything was amiss when he went for his annual health exam in 2006. However, during this appointment his doctor felt a lump during a digital rectal exam.
“I felt no symptoms at all that would indicate that something would be wrong, so for the doctors to find a lump – I was concerned,” says Jim.
His doctor performed additional tests: it turned out his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels were high and on the rise. A series of screening tests and biopsies were performed, and a formal diagnosis was made. Jim had prostate cancer. Jim was half expecting the diagnosis – but was unsure what to do next. He was just 65 years old.
“At the time of my diagnosis, I knew very little about prostate cancer,” says Jim. “I went online, I found a prostate cancer support group, and I read post after post of other people’s prostate cancer experiences, but I felt they didn’t offer the information I was looking for.”
Jim met with his primary care physician as well as a urologist to discuss his treatment options. He opted for surgery which was a success. He was an active father of five, who enjoyed playing golf, reading, going on walks, and watching new TV shows with his wife. And for the next decade, Jim’s prostate cancer remained in remission. But in 2016, he heard the devastating news: his cancer had returned.
After 36 radiation treatments, Jim felt like there was nothing more that could be done. He explains: “My wife and the rest of my family were such an important support system. We felt helpless.”
At this point, Jim’s treating physician made a referral to another physician. With this doctor, Jim learned he was eligible for a clinical study of a potential new treatment option.
“Signing up for the clinical trial was practically a no brainer,” says Jim, who is still participating in the clinical study under the watchful care of study investigators who are closely monitoring his cancer.
Today, Jim is a grandfather to 15 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren and is focused on doing what he loves, including being active in the Veteran community. He also is passionate about sharing his prostate cancer story with others to help them feel less lost like he did when he was first diagnosed.
“It’s so important for men to share their prostate cancer journey and to pass on advice. My tip - I encourage anyone starting a journey with prostate cancer to get a second opinion and learn about all the available treatment options,” says Jim. “My hope is that treatment options continue to evolve to help those impacted by prostate cancer.”
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