A Survivor’s Story
At 62 years old, I still had the feelings of invincibility. I had first started working out with my dad at age 13 at the YMCA in downtown Boston. Then my best friend and I took up weight lifting at 14 years old. This program of working out has continued over the last 45 + years, and has included running, swimming, snow-skiing, and bike-riding along with trying some of the more dangerous sports. Throughout my life, as I was growing up and as an adult, I was always told that I ate more fruit than anyone else. We were told eating lots of fruit helped to prevent cancer, right?
As of June 2003, my PSA was 2.37 … great! Now, I don’t know if this is the reason, but 2004, 2005 and 2006 all became very stressful years. In January of 2007, my PSA went up to 4.3. Then, in August, my PSA jumped to 5.83. All this time, I was still exercising like crazy, pushing the limits of my body. At the recommendation of my Internist, I went to my Urologist on October 2nd 2007 for a PSA test, and prostate exam. My PSA was now 6.7; my wife of 40 years and I were both bewildered, yet we were both sure that there wasn’t a problem.
The urologist scheduled a biopsy of my prostate; I believe it was on November 6th, 2007. On November 8th, 2007, we were told that the results were in, and that we should come by. I can assure you that at the time, as we waited for the doctor to come in; my wife and I were not too concerned. You see, I was simply too healthy, and could still do anything at 62 that I had done at 30 or 35 years old.
A Turning Point
Well, I call November 8th, 2007 my “Life Altering Day,” as I was told I had cancer! Shock and disbelief do not begin to describe how we felt. The good news, I was told, was that the cancer was caught at an early stage, and there were many treatments available to me.
Before we left the urologists' office an appointment was set up to see an Oncologist, Dr. Tim Williams at the Lynn cancer Center in Boca Raton Florida. As we walked to our car, my wife and I looked at each other and cried. It was a sad day, a sad night, and a sad week for both of us. I could not tell my children (both grown) without crying. At this point, I felt I did not know how long I was going to be around, in spite of my urologist reassuring me I should be OK, as the cancer was caught early on.
There were many tests done to make sure the cancer had not spread, one of which was a bone scan. I also had an MRI ordered by my urologist, the results were very good. I was told that I was in great shape, and the cancer had not spread beyond my prostate. In fact, only half the prostate was Cancerous. I was given some choices as to how we could proceed. I had actually asked, “if only half the prostate has cancer, why must the whole prostate be treated?” However, my urologist wasted no time in telling me that my suggestion/question was not an option as far as he was concerned!
With my recommendation in hand, I went home and Googled the procedure, which was called the High Dose Rate (HDR) Prostate Implant Procedure. I chose to have this procedure, which was a combination of 25 radiation treatments and temporary radioactive seeds twice implanted in my prostate.
Meanwhile, the radiation treatments started on December 4th, 2007 and ended on January 10th, 2008; I now call this my “Last Traumatic Day of Radiation.” The first week of radiation, I was exhausted, or at least that’s what I thought. By the second week of radiation, I forced myself to work out with weights five days a week. The workouts got easier as the radiation continued.
The temporary seeding procedure was scheduled for January 30th-31st, 2008 and would require 35-40 hours in the hospital. The first dose of radioactive seeds was implanted in the early morning on Thursday, January 30th, 2008 while the second dose was implanted in the early morning on Friday, January 31st, 2008.
A Return To Normalcy
Well, I have to say ‘Thank God” for the morphine button! I did not feel much pain at all during my stay. I went home on Friday feeling OK. On February 5th, 2008, I had a visit with my oncologist. Everything looked fine, and I felt good. I was told I had no restrictions as to what exercises I could do. Five days after that visit, which was ten days after the operation, I rode my bike 10 miles. Was I crazy? No, just trying to get back to where I was with my bike and weights, before the radiation and the operation. I was also trying to forget the traumatic events that had occurred from 2000 through 2005. Which I was to find out years later, had led to PTSD.
Three months after my operation, my PSA went from 6.7 to 1.6. Six months after my operation, on July 24th, 2008, my PSA was 1.0! But while you’d think this could be the end of my story, it seems to be only the beginning!
During one of my visits with my oncologist, I asked: “What happens to the people who can’t afford to get screened?” The answer was very shocking! It was very sobering to hear about how many deaths occur each year from breast and prostate cancer, and how early detection is the key to saving many lives.
So was born the United Cancer Foundation (UCF). Written by Steve Kaplan, June 21st, 2008.
Be on the alert for Part 2 of this true story, which will follow in the coming months.
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
This is to my Query letter that will possibly be followed by a book on how to survive Cancer and open heart surgery.
Well as you can see, it has taken more than a few months to write part two. During my fight with Cancer in 2007, I promised my Oncologist that if I made it through I would make a difference in the lives of people that were less fortunate. Fortunately, I made it through and kept my promise by starting the United Cancer Foundation!
My plan was to offer "Health & Hope" to those in need by offering FREE HEALTH CARE utilizing volunteers. We were going to provide the following medical assistance for 2000-3000 patients per weekend event for FREE: Cancer Screenings, Dental: (cleanings, fillings and extractions), Vision: (complete eye exams, prescription glasses made on site) Medical: (specialist exams and consults, podiatry, diabetes screening and education, skin care, skin rashes and screening for skin cancer) Women's health: (mammograms and breast exams) Men's health: PSA testing. Follow-up care was to be a major component of this event that was to be accomplished by volunteer Doctors. This event was to benefit, Children, Women, Men, Minorities and the Disabled. We were offering “Hope” by making follow-up care and “Health” education a major component of this event! Initially, the “HEALTH & HOPE” healthcare project started with 8 groups such as The Florida Department of Health (PBCHD), United Way of Palm Beach County, Susan G. Komen for the Cure South Florida, The Health District of Palm Beach County, the American Cancer Society and Remote Area Medical of Knoxville TN (RAM®). As the event drew closer, we had 30+ community nonprofit organizations that were ready to help the uninsured, the unemployed and those that could not pay for a Doctor! There has never been an event in Florida where this many community based organizations had come together to help 2,000- 3,000 families in one weekend event. We had 500+ non-medical and over 150 medical volunteers ready for our first event scheduled for November 21-22, 2009. The event was to be held at the Americraft Expo Center @ The South Florida Fairgrounds in Palm Beach County. 50,000 sq.’ were donated by the Expo Center and The Board of County Commissioners of Palm Beach County.
I started working on this project in January of 2008. To start thinking about part two, one might
say part two started on Friday, October 9th 2009. We were about two months away from the event. It was all coming together. Then the unexpected happened. I found myself sitting on the kitchen floor wondering what I was doing there because I had gone into the kitchen to make breakfast. My wife and I immediately went to the Delray Hospital to get checked out. I had been having episodes where I was short of breath for about six months. I had been given nasonex® and an Inhalation Aerosol multiple times to help with my breathing and what I thought was congestion. Four days before Friday, October 9th 2009, I was given a clean bill of health and a pat on the back by my EX primary care Doctor who said to me you should be ok with this medication. So when I went to the Delray Hospital on the 9th, I did not think there was any major problem.
Part two in currently being written, it will contain the good, the bad and the ugly of surviving Cancer and open heart surgery. A story about the Volunteers and the Non-Profits of Palm Beach County the ones that care about the less fortunate, along with those that could care less. About how some of our primary care Doctors in Palm Beach County who could care less about their patients and are more concerned about how many patients that they can see per day. You know the ones that do not have time to answer all your questions and have their hand on the door as they can’t wait to get to their next patient. This story will of course also include the many Doctors that do sincerely care about their patients. Five days later I found myself being wheeled into the operating room to have open heart surgery performed on an emergency bases. Yes, that was nine days after being given a clean bill of health and about six weeks away from Florida’s biggest free healthcare event ever held. I was not happy! The event was postponed till April of 2010 but never took place as I was still recuperating. The event, my main concern, turned from helping others to staying alive.
Below is the event that the UCF planned to do, unfortunately it was not to be.
1834 Beech Street · Knoxville, Tennessee 37920· www.ramusa.org
Remote Area Medical® (RAM)
FREE Medical, Dental, and Vision Care
November 21 – 22, 2009
Doors Open at 6:00AM daily and MUST CLOSE when we reach capacity!
FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED!!
Americraft Expo Center - South Florida Fairgrounds
9067 Southern Blvd, West Palm Beach, Florida
VOLUNTEERS REGISTER NOW @ www.unitedcancerfoundation.org
Florida Licensed Medical Healthcare Professionals & Non-Medical volunteers needed!
FREE Medical, Vision, and Dental care will be provided
for the uninsured, underinsured unemployed, and those who cannot afford to pay!
All services are FREE and are provided by VOLUNTEERS.
Please arrive early, bring a snack, and be prepared to wait. Your wait could be long.
||Cleanings, fillings, and extractions
|VISION:||Vision exam and free prescription glasses made onsite. (NOTE: May not be able to make glasses for everyone.)
|Mammograms (if necessary will be done off site with vouchers), PSA test, Pediatric Exams and Adult Physicals, including Diabetes and Hypertension Services. This event is brought to you by Remote Area Medical® & the United Cancer Foundation for the uninsured, underinsured, unemployed, and those who cannot afford to pay. Services are provided by volunteer Doctors, Nurses, Dentists, Dental Hygienists, Dental Assistants, Ophthalmologists, Optometrists, Opticians, and other trained health professionals from Florida.|
Additional FREE Services Available:
- H1N1 & Seasonal Flu shots will be available from the Palm Beach County Health Department
- Ability to sign up for Medicaid & Food Stamps if eligible!
- FREE Legal aid!
- Veteran’s Benefit Assistance
The Department of Health will provide information on available public health services. Eligibility workers will be on site to screen for possible future services. Information will be available on Breast, Prostate and Skin Cancer.
Donations accepted at www.unitedcancerfoundation.org
HOW THIS EVENT IS MADE POSSIBLE….AND WHO TO THANK
30 + COMMUNITY BASED ORGANIZATIONS THAT CARE ABOUT YOUR HEALTHCARE
Remote Area Medical® (RAM) will be providing free healthcare to anyone who needs it without cost of any kind to the patient. There is no income test, no insurance requirement, and no restriction of any kind. Medical and non-medical personnel will all be volunteers; supplies and equipment will be donated or provided by RAM. The Americraft Expo Center at the South Florida Fairgrounds is providing the use of their west wing building (35,700 sq. ft.), through the generosity of their Board of Directors.
Additionally, the following Organizations, Non Profit Foundations, Government Agencies & Universities will either be at our event, or are helping us to bring this FREE HEALTHCARE to those in need!
American Cancer Society
American Heart Association
Americraft Expo Center at The South Florida Fairgrounds
Caridad Center Health Education & Outreach
Connor Moran Children's Cancer Foundation
Daily Bread and Food Bank
Florida Atlantic University (FAU) (Student Volunteers)
Families First Palm Beach County
Florida Dental Association
Florida Department of Children and Families
Florida Department of Health (Palm Beach County)
Florida Department of Health (Tallahassee)
Florida Public Health Institute
Habitat for Humanity of Palm Beach County
Healthy Mothers / Healthy Babies Coalition of Palm Beach County
I.A.T.S.E. Local 500 Stagehands Union
New Beginnings Community Development Center (NBCDC)
Diabetes Education and Research Center F.A.U. - P.B.A.C.C.
Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center, West Palm Beach
Lions Club of South Florida
Nova Southeastern University
Remote Area Medical (RAM USA)
Susan G. Komen for the Cure (South Florida)
Schmidt Family Foundation
The Florida Department of Health
The Health Care District of Palm beach County
The Jessie Trice Community Health Center
The Palm Beach County Medical Society
United Cancer Foundation
Wayne Barton Study Center
*Additional organizations will be added
WE WISH TO THANK THE FOLLOWING MAJOR DONORS:
The United Cancer Foundation extends a very special thank you to Governor Crist and his staff who have been assisting us in coordinating services with both the Florida Department of Health and The Palm Beach County Health Department.
It also brings us great pleasure to thank the following individuals and organizations for their assistance and guidance in our very important effort to help the people of the great State of Florida:
Dr. Ana M. Viamonte Ros, State Surgeon General of the Florida Department of Health.
Dr. Alina Alonso, Director of the Palm Beach County Health Department.
The Board of County Commissioners of Palm Beach County
"The Palm Beach County Oral Health Coalition supports the efforts of Project “Health & Hope” by the United Cancer Foundation and Remote Area Medical® to offer free healthcare to those in need"