It is a pleasure for me to write to you as a member of the University of Chicago cancer patient mentoring team. My story may be of particular interest to those of you who have had to deal with the terrible situation of having two cases in the same family, in this case my husband and son. My bout with the beast started about 10 years ago when Willie managed to score 124.6 on a PSA test. Anything over 4 is cause for concern. The diagnosis was prostate cancer and he opted for immediate surgery. For the next 8 months the PSA counts remained excellent at 0.1. Just as we had begun to feel a little relieved, the counts started to rise again reaching up to 14. A new treatment of hormone shots in the stomach was begun and lasted for 8 long years until his body became immune to them. In October of 2001, we were devastated when his PSA count went back up to over 200. He turned to another new oral treatment but it did not help at all. By this time we were feeling almost frantic as he embarked on what we feared was a last ditch effort with chemotherapy. He started a chemotherapy protocol of every three weeks for 7 treatments. By this time he was so worn out that the chemo really made him miserable and he became very discouraged.
Then a wonderful intervention occurred. A neighbor gave us a copy of Jerry White’s book, “Cancer Wars – MAARS Journey” and a copy of the guided imagery tape that accompanies it. Willie had actually known Jerry years ago in high school. He knew him to be a reliable guy and one not given to flights of fancy, hence we had no credibility problem with the book although we had never seen one that dealt with so many aspects of fighting the disease. Willie began to listen to the tapes immediately, sometimes as many as three times a night. He began to develop a feeling of well being and, after 4 months of focused imaging, his PSA is back down to 4, he is no longer on treatment and is feeling wonderful. We fully expect his PSA to be back at 0.0!
The above, as troublesome as it was, was only part of our families cancer fight. In February of 1997, our son Nick was diagnosed with Multiple Myloma which we were told was an incurable form of cancer. He was so very sick and we made every effort to build his body up for a bone marrow transplant using bone marrow. At our insistence, they harvested enough stem cells for a second transplant and stored them in cryofreeze. We really had to take a tough stance to have this happen but, as you will see, it was a life saving decision. It seems that our belief in the treatment was stronger than the onc docs. Ten months later, they did the transplant and he gradually made a good recovery. Cancer has a way of dashing hopes to the point where a person fears to ever trust happiness again. In February of this year, about 4 and one half years later, we were shattered by the return of the cancer. Thank God we had insisted on the extra harvesting as the stem cells were there waiting in cryofreeze. This time he wasn’t sick at the time of harvesting as there was no harvesting. Following 4 months of chemo, he was given the second transplant. We gave him a copy of Jerry’s tape about a week after he came home and he has been listening to it faithfully. We all had a joyful experience when Jerry was actually able to arrange a trip so that he could come by and get personally acquainted. That seemed to reinforce the credibility. In a very short time he has recovered enough to go back to work full time. So much for the “incurable disease”. People who pronounce such judgements, it seems to me, are themselves in need of a cure of sorts. Had Nick not been of such strong will, he would have been programmed to die.
With a son and husband both seemingly dying around me, I would continually find myself asking the age old question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”. I was to discover that the answer lies in the way the question is asked. A better way to ask that old question is “What do good people do when bad things happen to them?” One can find a lot of frustration seeking the answer to the first (so many of the authoritative books on coping with cancer are written by persons who have never had it). There is a store house full of wonderful stories of how people have given answer to the latter. Take advantage of the best medical help available and follow their advice, but test it at every opportunity along the way. This is what taking charge is all about. Never fear to ask questions and be forceful when your best judgment tells you to. Fill your days with productive activities. Constantly program your mind that you CAN and WILL overcome the cancer. Look forward to the future and trust that you are going to have a big part to play in it. Feel free to contact me if I can be of further help to you. God bless you and yours on your road to healing.