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Thomas’ Story: Living with prostate cancer that has spread

When Thomas Maxwell had his prostate specific antigen (PSA) tested at 58, everything looked fine. At his next appointment three years later, his level had climbed - slightly. Four years later, his wife encouraged him to have another PSA test. This time, the numbers painted a chilling picture: he had prostate cancer.

“I felt disbelief, really,” he says.

“I still don’t believe I’m suffering from prostate cancer. There’s a big part of denial, that how can I be that ‘sick’ when I don’t feel sick at all? How do you equate those two realities?”

Thomas recently found out that the cancer spread outside his prostate. He now has advanced prostate cancer for which there is no cure. He’s started therapy to suppress male hormones like testosterone to slow the growth of the cancer and give him more time.

He recognizes that taking his health into his own hands earlier may have made a difference. “That was my failure in terms of maintaining my own health,” he says. “I would really suggest to people to have regular PSA tests, because had I had one in that four-year window between being 61 and 65, the disease probably wouldn’t have advanced to the stage that it was when they found it.”

He’s only recently started noticing the physical effects of his prostate cancer. As a result of the hormone therapy, he’s experiencing low energy and hot flashes, though he finds them manageable. “But, they are clear indications that you are different than you were before you got the call that said your PSA is 6.5,” he says.

Finding ways to give back                            

Despite his diagnosis, Thomas is giving back to the community supporting him. He recently volunteered for Prostate Cancer Canada as a community representative on a panel that decides which research projects to fund.

 “I felt like it was a small way to give a tiny bit back. It’s nice to see that the researchers are real people and that this is a big part of their life.”

After retiring 17 years ago, Thomas is keeping active and happy driving whale watching boats in Victoria. “I’ve been blessed with an environment of amazing natural beauty and a clientele of constant people that are having a good time. That positive energy has been very beneficial to me.” 

Thomas’ wife Linda is there for support throughout the journey, too.

“She’s a nutrition freak, she’s a caregiver, she’s an exercise nut,” Thomas laughs. “And she’s there. I really am blessed.”

His message to others?

“Education is the key to a lot of things in this world, and I guess we should start there. And if you’re lucky enough to be married to someone like my wife, take advantage of that advice and advocacy every chance you get.”

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Posted: 2019-05-31 1:06:44 PM


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