Keith Hoffman took a businesslike approach to his diagnosis of prostate cancer. He immediately made an appointment for surgery, started searching the internet for information and spoke with men who had been through the procedure. He planned post-surgical activities, and admitted that if he suffered from intimacy issues following his surgery, he would be okay with those limitations.
Just one problem: Keith’s wife, Terri was not okay with it – and she had questions and concerns of her own.
"When she spoke up about it, I realized for the first time that this situation was not just about me – it was about our family,” Keith said. “It affects my health and my mortality, but at the time I was diagnosed, I had a wife and daughter, and Terri helped me realize there were more people involved with this.”
Diagnosed in May 2009, Keith’s prostatectomy – removal of the entire prostate – was scheduled for that July. Before then, however, he had another important, life-changing decision to make.
Acknowledging his wife for asking the questions he neglected to or had not thought about, Keith also gave her credit for reminding him of their hopes for adding to their family. The news regarding his cancer jeopardized Keith and Terri’s plans of having more children, but that apparent setback led to a joint decision that has a happy conclusion.
“Terri suggested we contact a local sperm bank, so we learned about it, went through the interview process, and I ended up making several deposits,” Keith said. “We knew that sometime after my surgery we would go through the in vitro process, and we had a little girl born November 16, 2010.”
In the months between his surgery and the birth of his daughter, Keith focused on his recovery – something he spent time thinking about, and planning, before his surgery.
“I knew that I had to do everything I could to come out of this the best way possible,” Keith said. “I did some physical therapy prior to my surgery, and used the biofeedback results to motivate me to reach those same levels of Kegel muscle strength after surgery.”
A competitive US Masters swimmer, Keith said his times in April 2010 were faster than his pre-surgical times.
Keith also started attending a support group sponsored by US TOO International. The local chapter leader, Mike Jones – a gritty, tough looking guy with a goatee and a shaved head, Keith recalled – offered some unique and succinct advice at their first meeting.
“Mike told me, ‘So you have cancer. Get over your pity party. It’s time to get hold of yourself and do something about it!’” Keith said. “I still attend chapter meetings, and try to help others who are going through the process, whether they are in the watchful waiting phase or if they were just diagnosed, or if they just need support. We all are members of a club we never thought we would be in, and these meetings help all of us.”
Through his experience with US TOO, Keith learned of the Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Research Program (PCRP), and after he expressed interest in serving as a peer reviewer, Keith did just that in 2010 and again in 2011.
“Peer review gave me what I was looking for, and gave me the opportunity to work with scientists who seek to eliminate prostate cancer,” Keith said. “I knew that I wanted to make a contribution at a higher level. Peer review gave me the feeling that I really was participating in the cause, and working with the CDMRP is exactly what I was called to do.”