Up until recently, the fact that Don Crossley was living with prostate cancer had not changed his life much.
The Burlington-based business consultant, who also writes a weekly newspaper column on seniors’ issues, has for years been an advocate for the local seniors’ community. Knowing first-hand the importance of early detection, Don decided to use his column to share his experience and encourage others get screened for prostate cancer.
“I have been tremendously lucky and have always been quite healthy, so, for me, the most difficult thing was coming to grips with the fact that even though I felt totally fine I had a serious medical issue. I needed to talk about this and raise awareness, because too many men still are not getting checked.”
Don’s journey began when his family doctor noticed his prostate felt enlarged during his annual physical exam, and sent him to be screened for prostate cancer. Results of a PSA test, which measures the levels of certain blood proteins, and a subsequent biopsy confirmed the worst – it was prostate cancer.
Because Don’s cancer was caught early and was not aggressively growing, no immediate action was required, with the exception of regular monitoring.
“Every six months for five years my tests came back fine, then one day last December, I was told the cancer was growing and the time had come to deal with the problem. I had three choices; surgery, radiation or simply let it run its course.”
After weighing the options Don opted to go for radiation treatment and was referred to Dr. Patel at the Juravinski Cancer Centre. Before he could begin treatment though, Dr. Patel had him undergo a series of tests to ensure the cancer had not spread. Thankfully for Don, the tests were all negative, and he was cleared to start radiation treatment, something he was very nervous about.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect coming in, but everyone was so welcoming, which went a long way to easing my fears and gave me a lot of confidence.”
The staff made such an impression on Don that he knew they could help reassure his 13-year-old grandson, who was really worried about him.
“I asked if I could bring him in to one of my radiation sessions so he could see what I was going through and that I’d be OK. Not only did they let him come with me, but they showed him everything they were going to do and explained why. By the time the appointment was over, he said to me ‘you’re gonna be fine grandpa.’”
Don has now finished his radiation treatments and though he will require additional tests to determine that he is 100% cancer free, he is very grateful to the Cancer Centre staff, especially the radiation therapists.
“They have an unbelievable team here who really care about the patients,” he says. “There were 19 different radiation therapists involved in my treatment and each and every one of them delivered the same exceptional level of care. I would like to personally thank Janeen, Elhan, Jeremy, Sue, Jessica, Emilia, Alexis, Fiona, Stephanie, Shelley, Ashleigh, Keith, Rob, Diane, Jocelyne, Jessi, Julie, Bo and Mike for the difference they have made in my life.”
Prostate Cancer is the most common cancer among men and the most frequently diagnosed cancer in Ontario. As the regional centre of excellence in cancer care and the only facility in the south-central Ontario region equipped to deliver radiation therapy, Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre is one of the country’s leading prostate cancer treatment and research centres. Approximately 700 new prostate cancer cases are treated at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre each year.