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I was two years old when my father had his first bout with cancer, a basal cell carcinoma above his right ear. I can remember it because the doctor who removed the tumor coated it with Jensen's (gentian) violet. I don't know why, but it left a lasting impression for years to come. My dad fought various types of cancer for 51 years - throat, melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, prostate cancer, and parathyroid cancer. My mother, two aunts, a sister, brother, grandmother and grandfather, great grandparents, and cousin have all battled breast and/or cervical or prostate cancer. My family is no stranger to this disease.
After careers in the Navy and the electronics industry, I ran for (and lost) the position of town supervisor. I tried again and won the next two elections (persistence pays!), and I just might run for another 4-year term. For relaxation and therapy I garden, play golf (as the high-handicap team member), and enjoy time with my grandchildren. My wife and I love traveling and, thanks to the companies I have worked for, we lived in England for 4 years and in Australia for a year. Living abroad made travel to many other countries easier.
I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in early 2002. After reviewing the available options at the time, I chose surgical removal, a radical retropubic prostatectomy. I made the decision, then my urologist set the rules. That was our agreement! I have followed the rules and, fortunately, there have been no after-effects, no post-radiation, or chemotherapy. Every 6 months, my PSA level is checked along with a urological review every year unless the PSA comes back positive. So far, all have been "undetectable."
After my surgery, I was amazed at the number of men I knew and had worked with who told me they had had prostate cancer. These men seemed to "come out of the woodwork" once they knew I was one of them. Others who knew me started to ask questions that I could not answer. My urologist suggested that I contact the local branch of the American Cancer Society (ACS) and its Man to Man Program, and I have been involved with that group since 2002. I have also been actively involved in our local Relay for Life events.
The ACS recommended that I apply to the CDMRP as a Consumer Reviewer for the Prostate Cancer Research Program (PCRP), and I have been involved with the PCRP for the past 5 years, most recently as an ad hoc reviewer with the PCRP Integration Panel.
My training as a consumer reviewer came at a relatively easy pace and depth of research. Succeeding years brought me deeper into the scientific detail and leading edge of research. I began to find it more challenging and I started to research the subjects to a greater depth so I could be a more effective reviewer.
For the past two years I have been a mentor to newly appointed consumer reviewers, helping them conquer their doubts, and providing encouragement so that each one can contribute to the review process with their unique abilities and knowledge. Consumer reviewers have the opportunity to interact with some of the very best prostate cancer investigators and clinicians in the country. Consumers not only bring a face to the issue but to the reality of shared experiences with the disease. The review process provides increased knowledge of the research and the progress being made to eradicate prostate cancer. The promise of this research is mind-boggling - it brings hope to those in treatment, and to those yet to be diagnosed with the disease. It is both rewarding and life-changing to work alongside researchers to identify those scientific projects that will advance treatment options for patients afflicted with this physically and emotionally devastating disease.