Frank Leslie - Facing Prostate Cancer, Again, and Again

Storytelling

My family was in the newspaper business for three generations. My grandfather my father and I, at one time worked together at the family-owned Niagara Falls Review, purchased in 1904. Newspapers used to be at the heart of a community; its pages brought information, hope, and a sense of belonging to its readership. So I know the power of a good story.

There was a time when no one talked about cancer. It was known as the ‘Big C’. Everything surrounding the disease was very hush-hush. As a survivor, I see the importance in sharing my story, raising awareness, and changing attitudes towards the disease…so here is mine.

Facing Prostate Cancer, Again, and Again

I was diagnosed with prostate cancer when I was 60. A high PSA score suggested that something was wrong and a biopsy confirmed it was cancer. The news shocked and disappointed me. To my knowledge, there is no history of the disease in my family.  My first thought was “what am I going to do?”

I’m lucky – one of my close friends is a urologist.  He was an amazing resource as I decided on my next steps. With his counsel, and after speaking with a couple friends who had had surgery, I decided on a radical prostatectomy.  That was in 2002. After the surgery, I thought I was in the clear, but I still had PSA tests regularly. In 2009, my PSA number started rising again. The cancer was back. I opted for radiation. However in April 2012 the cancer had returned. After the radiation and the healing process that was required, my family and I thought my cancer was behind us. It was a blow to discover that it wasn’t.

This time I decided to undergo hormone therapy. To this day, I get an implant every three months, just under the skin. Though I experience hot flashes and periodic fatigue, my prognosis is good.

Giving Back

Once I retired, as part of my volunteer work, I also became a shuttle bus. I would drive cancer patients back and forth to the Hamilton cancer centre at least once a week. No hospital in Niagara had radiation treatment equipment, On the drive, I would do what I could to cheer them up. Later I would speak to other men, like me, dealing with prostate cancer.

Both my father and grandfather had similar tendencies for community involvement, so I guess work like this is part of my nature. When you’re in the newspaper business, you need to know what’s going on – you become a resource for the people of the community.  

It’s all a Bonus

My experience seems to have given me the ability to put things into proper perspective. I am not angry about my health. I’ve been very fortunate. I’m at a point in my life where I’m happy with the life I’ve lead – at this stage, everything else is a bonus. Today, I’m 75 and I feeling great. I have a loving family. I travel, I golf, and I’ve returned to my roots and started a digital newspaper.  

The message that I hope men will take away from my experience is to start getting regular PSA and Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) check-ups.  It’s foolhardy to not stay on top of your health issues. If you receive an early diagnosis, the survival rates are a lot higher.  Get your head out of the sand. It’s time to be proactive!

Frank Leslie




Relevant Links:
Get more information about the PSA test
Learn more about prostate cancer risk factors
Find out what's happening during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
Prostate Cancer Canada Releases New Recommendations


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