For those of you who do not know me let me introduce myself: my name is Robert Doyon. I am Larry’s (Dr. Brkich’s) brother-in-law through marriage to Anne whose sister, Gaetana, is married to Larry.
My wife asked me if I would mind sharing my story in a newsletter this month since it is MOVEMBER, which focuses on sparking conversation and awareness about men’s health issues. At first, I was hesitant to say yes. Nine years ago, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I remember that day as though it was yesterday and perhaps deep-down, I may still be feeling a bit of shame regarding my manhood. If any of you know my wife, you probably could guess that saying “no” would not be an option and as loving as she is, there is no way that I would get away with the “I feel a little shy letting strangers now about it". She is genuinely passionate about helping others and felt that my story might help encourage perhaps another man to get screening early. Needless to say, the feisty Italian in her comes out when she wants something. Actually, this has been shown to be quite beneficial when we are at our doctor’s office asking for blood tests to be done. She always remains respectful but persistent, very persistent.
Getting back to my story, nine years ago we were having our traditional Sunday family dinner when Larry asked me when I was going to do his “routine” blood tests that he recommended years ago. Now if you know Larry well enough, he is all about “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Although I understood how important this is, I never seemed to have the time or felt an urgency to get them done. After all, life was good. I was physically active, led a healthy lifestyle overall and felt great. This particular Sunday, Anne looked at me and said, “We have been married for 20 years now, you’ve known Larry for 20 years and you were supposed to do these tests 10 years ago. The time is now, you are 50. I know you are healthy and this is about keeping you healthy for another 50 plus years. I am taking you to the lab tomorrow morning to get the tests done that your MD can’t do and will make an appointment with our family doctor to request those tests that can be covered by MSP (which included PSA and PSA ratio)”. As I mentioned earlier, Anne can be persistent, so off I went to LifeLabs. Our family Drs. Neary and Preston were very supportive and totally on board to do them.
In 48 hours I got a call to see Dr. Neary regarding the routine tests. My PSA was flagged high. She immediately sent me to see Dr. Hampole (local urologist) who was also superb and quickly referred me to Dr. Black, a surgeon in Vancouver specializing in prostate cancer. Dr. Black performed the biopsy which came back positive for prostate cancer. He said that we caught it in the early stages, which was great news.
The other tests done with Larry gave greater and more in-depth information as to why I may have been at a higher risk for developing prostate cancer. The journey to healing began. I followed a very precise protocol set out by Larry and was, and am, being monitored closely with the other health care professionals on my team. I am happy to report that I am doing very well today.
The point of me sharing this is not to get into the emotional roller coaster we went through as a family or the financial burden, since most of the tests and treatments done privately were not covered by my extended health or MSP. These challenges are insignificant when compared to the possibility of dying. Had it not been for Larry’s gentle reminder and Anne’s persistence to do the blood work (like good cop/bad cop scenario) I know that I would have procrastinated getting it done. I have tremendous gratitude for his help and for the outstanding support from my family, friends and other physicians on my team.
The most important thing is that all men should have the discussion of PSA testing with their doctor. If there is a family history of prostate cancer, have the discussion earlier rather than later. Our son, Jonathan, who is 22, has already done the private tests through Larry to get a good measure of his health status and will begin PSA testing in a few years.
The message, I hope, is clear:
EARLY DETECTION IS KEY.
The difference between early detection and late detection can be life or death.