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My Battle With Prostate Cancer: The Power of Being Proactive

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Published on February 18, 2015

Mike Skowronek, a prostate cancer survivor and CanCare volunteer, shares how annual checkups, healthy living and friends who mentor saved his life. After tests indicated elevated PSA levels, Mike chose surgery to improve his survival chances. Later, a bet with his daughter led him to CanCare where he now donates his time and energy to raise awareness and to mentor other cancer patients.

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Thanks so much for sharing this event online. I just started my third year of fighting advanced prostate cancer and the content of this event is really encouraging.

— Ken, on Facebook

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Transcript | My Battle with Prostate Cancer: The Power of Being Proactive

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That's how you’ll get care that's most appropriate for you.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Mike Skowronek:

I started having annual physicals when I was 50 years old, and I think maybe other than one year that I missed I had those all the way through.

I went in for my annual physical, had no medications, no medical issues at all, able to run and exercise and just lead a perfectly normal life and got the results of my physical back and noted that there was an elevated PSA. 

My primary care doctor recommended that I see a urologist. And so the first thing that I did after telling my wife that there might be something—some type of issue out there—I called a dear friend of mine, 30-plus-year friend, Bob, who had gone through the exact same thing about a year ago.  He was—a year earlier—he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, had elevated PSA, went through the—the whole process with the urologist and discovered that he had cancer.

Bob was working through that process and, you know, then through the surgery and after the surgery one of the things that kept coming back in the conversation was how much he really admired and loved working with this particular urologist. And I remembered and how happy he was with the hospital and the treatment that he received. And it just turned out that's who I went to go see.

And so he suggested that he perform a biopsy to see, find out more if there was a problem, which I scheduled as quickly as I could.  And so a couple weeks later, I went in to his office and the procedure was done, and I found out a few days later through a phone call from the doctor that I definitely had prostate cancer.

I decided that I wanted to have surgery performed and had a radical prostatectomy performed a couple months after the biopsy and went through the surgery, went through a couple of difficult weeks of recovery post-surgery. But probably within about a month to a month-and-a-half, I was starting to feel pretty much back to normal.  Took me a few months to get all my strength back, but I was able to—I experienced a full recovery.

When I went in for that physical in 2012, I had no symptoms, you know, the properly known symptoms of prostate issues.  I had none.  I would have guessed I had some other type of cancer rather than prostate cancer, because I didn't have any—any symptoms whatsoever.  So at a minimum, a good annual physical where you have got baselines established for different kinds of things including prostate cancer I think at a minimum is critical.

Absolutely.  You know, in my case don't know for sure, but had I not been getting to the doctor for those annual physicals and not finding out about that elevated PSA, you know, over—in a few years some of that stuff could have gotten loose in my body, and I would have really had a problem.

It was fate. It was, guess about four years ago, one of my daughters was training to run the half-marathon. And a couple months before the race, I challenged her, I said, “I haven't been training, but I bet I could run that race.” So she dared me, and I said, “I'm going to do it.”

Well, the entries had been closed, and the only way you could run the race was to sign up with a nonprofit that was associated with the race in Houston and agree to raise money on behalf of the nonprofit.  So I scrolled through the list and just happened across CanCare, didn't know anything about them.  Signed up with them on their team, and that year and the following year I was a member of the CanCare team, raised money on behalf of CanCare and ran the half-marathon.

And so when all this stuff happened to me I—there was—there had been a little bit of a gap in my life since I became self-employed 10 years ago or so, giving back to others, and I said, “You know, this might be a really good thing for me to do, and who knows maybe I can be a Bob to someone else that doesn't—that didn't have a Bob to turn to like I was fortunate to have.”  And so I've gone through the training, and hopefully I can help others the same way.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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