Jeremy Godfrey - My Dad

My prostate cancer story involves my dad,  Albert. Dad is your typical man – stubborn, kind, loves his family and his children.

In 2007, my dad was in his late 50’s. As per the doctor’s recommendations, he was getting his prostate checked regularly; until he missed that one appointment.

Around that time, my parents had inherited a new pet dog. Dad started walking him 3-4 times a day and took great care of him. Dad started to lose weight,  and we all attributed the weight loss to walking the dog and thought nothing else of it. Looking back, I wished I had realized why he was losing it so quickly.

A year later, my dad woke up one morning with an eye problem. At first it looked like he had had a mild stroke, as he couldn’t control his left eye. If it weren’t for this incident, we never would have known that dad had cancer!

Off to the doctor my dad went. The eye problem had been caused by a virus; but while he was there, the physician happened to mention that he hadn’t had his prostate checked.

The doctor ordered some blood tests in addition to checking his prostate.  Then we received the news. My dad was diagnosed with stage 3 prostate cancer. His PSA score was very high. We were all very upset-  you believe that your parents will live forever! My dad wanted to make sure that we were okay. He told us early on, “Don't treat me like a sick person!” Even now, we're still keeping that promise.

The doctor started with hormone treatments. At first it helped; the PSA levels were reduced and we thought it would reign in the cancer. With this treatment, my dad was told that he would experience mood swings, hot flashes and other side effects. My dad took everything in stride and kept his positive attitude. His oncologist made a deal with him that every year they would get together for coffee. This doctor realized how sick dad was and, fortunately, they were able to keep that appointment.

After the hormone treatment, the doctors did their usual follow-up of bone scans and MRI’s and discovered that the cancer had moved into his pelvis. This was heartbreaking to us as a family. It was our worst nightmare!

Since the cancer was spreading, the doctors suggested trying chemotherapy to prevent it from spreading even more. Dad, who was in his 60’s, chose to have his chemo treatments in the morning and then go to work afterwards. Fortunately, with the new chemotherapy, he never vomited and only lost a little bit of hair.
However, the chemotherapy was only effective for a few months. Dad’s cancer was getting worse and so was the prognosis - he was now in stage 4. His doctors, who were never without options, decided to see if my dad would be a suitable candidate for a clinical trial -a new chemo drug. We decided to do the trial and see what effect it might have. The first drug he tried resulted in emergency surgery after a few months. After a few weeks in the ICU and a near-death experience, he was finally well enough to be discharged. When he regained his strength, he participated in another drug trial and after a few months, that also stopped working. The doctors had done all they could do for him.

Despite not being able to help Dad, we take comfort in his being a part of those trials. If the data collected can help one person, then his involvement will not have been in vain.

After four and a half years and availing of most of the options, there’s nothing more that can be done. All treatment has stopped. Now, only comfort measures are being taken. Since his initial diagnosis, two grandchildren were born whom he loves dearly. Still, he wants to make sure that they and the rest of us are all okay. He wants us to know how much he loves us and how much we mean to him.

Love you dad!

Jeremy Godfrey


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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