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Bill Spurgeon's Prostate Cancer Story

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Uploaded on Feb 1, 2012

Provided by Alta Bates Summit Medical Center's Oncology Center of Excellence located in the San Francisco East Bay Area with permission of the Department of Defense.

The CDMRP is a program that I was very surprised even existed. I was delighted to find out that the Department of Defense had this program that is directly supporting patients like myself.

I was probably highly genetically predisposed to prostate cancer. My dad was quite old when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer because he was of that class of rugged individuals who didn't like going to the doctor. He was a world war 2 veteran and being the rugged individual that he was he said, well Will, at least it wasn't gonorrhea.

I remember sitting there at his bedside basically saying goodbye to him and thinking to myself no matter what, I have got to avoid contracting this disease. I am young, I was about age 48, I am young, I have time, I watch my weight, I watch my diet, I will get DREs, I get PSAs. I vowed to myself that I wouldn't get in his shoes. But yet while I was saying goodbye to him my PSA was all ready rising, it was probably above 3.

So, after I was diagnosed with prostate cancer it became, it was a rather challenging several weeks for me trying to understand the impact of this diagnosis. And what the options for treatments were. I felt overwhelmed, saturated, totally directionless with regard to next steps.

And then it dawned on me that one of the best ways to get directions would be to reach out to support organizations like Alta Bates Summit Medical Center's Markstein Center. They specialize in dealing with overwhelmed newly diagnosed patients like me. So I walked in the door and an hour later I walked out with 3 or 4 good options for treatment and a couple of names of individuals to call who had been in my shoes.

As I progressed through my journey with examining the various options and educating myself, the hospital asked me if I would be interested in participating in peer review with this government sponsored organization called the CDMRP. I didn't know anything about it, so I just used the same resource skills that I had applied to understanding prostate cancer.

Found out about this CDMRP and the DOD's involvement in it. Gosh this sounds fascinating 'cause it took what I already had learned about this disease, the various options of this disease, and simply expanded on, would expand on that in doing peer review and in the process, something very important to me, I could help other men.

One of the things that really, excites me is to see the passion that the clinicians, the researchers, the bio-ethicists, and the bio-statisticians bring to their work. And something about being in the review panel rooms and palpably feeling the excitement passion and excitement that they feel in their research gives me increased hope that we really will be able to defeat this disease in the near term.

I am continuously reminded that there is another generation, the young generation of young men who are coming up and these are the guys that I hope and pray don't have to worry about prostate cancer as they grow older. And the PCRP is well positioned to help every one of them.

So somebody like my son, he knows that he is predisposed to this disease, starting at about age 35 it would be great if research could develop a non-invasive test for him to use to check his status. My participation means to me personally hope, and it's a message of hope that I want to bring back to my constituency of fellow survivors.

I run a couple of support groups at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center that is responsible for 250 -- 300 men. And any time that they receive a solid message of hope, that is a message that is so gratefully received. It was welling of compassion for my sick dad, kind of a frustration that I couldn't help him, that propelled me to want to do more in a support group.

Many of the men in the support group are 20 years older than me and are suffering. If I can add value to one of their lives, in a way they are kind of a surrogate for my father. You see that I can do something good for them that I couldn't do for my dad. And I figure that is not quite as good as helping my dad but it is pretty close.

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