Rick Ducharme: Living today with an eye on tomorrow

“I’m a lucky man,” reflected Rick Ducharme, 68, on a life he has both cherished and feels confident is far from over.

Having been raised as the youngest of six on a farm in southern Ontario, Rick lost his father to cancer at the age of three, forcing him and his grief-stricken siblings to take on much greater responsibility than most of the other kids their age. These responsibilities included supporting one another, their beloved mother, and the successful operation of the family farm.

Like many children who, due to unfortunate circumstances, have been left with little choice but to quickly mature beyond their years, Ducharme’s early introduction to adversity foretold of a promising future. After meeting the love of his life with whom he’s now been happily married for 44 years, Ducharme went on to become a dedicated father of four, an outspoken transit executive of over a decade, and a doting grandfather of five.

But, as Rick knows all too well, nothing in life, especially one’s health, is ever guaranteed. Like his father before them, Rick also lost two of his brothers far too young to cancer. Understanding the profound sense of loss that comes with losing a loved one before their time, Rick made the conscious decision early on to be diligent about his health in order to boost his chances of living as far into old age as possible.

And it’s a good thing he did. After a PSA test in 2013 revealed a concerning uptick, his doctor decided to refer him to an urologist to be on the safe side and monitor the situation more closely. Approximately a year later, after having undergone a biopsy, Ducharme, with his wife and best friend by his side, received a diagnosis of prostate cancer. Never having experienced so much as a single symptom, Ducharme, after careful consideration and discussion with his doctor, opted for and underwent brachytherapy followed by 15 external beam radiations to treat the disease.  

Today, as he and his family continue to adjust to what they euphemistically refer to as their ‘new normal’, Rick remains cautiously optimistic that his treatment was successful. Although he misses coffee and doesn’t look forward to the regular urologist visits, he’s happy to report that his PSA levels are way down. This means his chances of getting to spend more time with loved ones are way up, and, for Rick, that’s the most important thing in the world.

Grateful for the support he’s received along the way from family, friends, fellow prostate cancer survivors, and Prostate Cancer Canada’s (PCC) patient-focused resources and services, Rick felt it was incumbent upon himself to pay it forward. As such, he approached PCC and volunteered to sit on one of their research selection panels. Comprised of a number of top prostate cancer experts as well as two community representatives whose lives have been directly affected by prostate cancer, these panels review scientific research proposals to determine which are the most likely to improve outcomes for men with prostate cancer and, therefore, deserving of funding.

In addition to fulfilling his wish to give back, this experience opened Rick’s eyes to the incredibly promising prostate cancer research taking place right here in Canada. It also filled him with hope for a brighter future when his children, grandchildren, and their kids to follow will have access to better and better care, opening the door to longer, healthier and happier lives.

The road to get there, Rick learned, will require significant investments in the way of time, energy and funding. To that end, he has become a vocal champion of the importance of fundraising. He now makes it a point to spread the word, urging everyone he knows to band together to equip the brightest minds our country has to offer with the resources they need to make next great breakthroughs happen. “With so many men being diagnosed with prostate cancer,” Rick reasons, “chances are good that each of us is or will be helping someone dear to us.” Besides, according to Rick Ducharme, “if you can help just one man and his family, it’ll have been worth it.”
Posted: 2017-12-15 12:20:24 PM
Filed under: cancer, health, men's, prostate, PSA, survivor, test


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