Four years ago, Santa gave me the worst Christmas present I’d ever received. The day after the most joyous holiday of the year, my doctor called and delivered the news that I had prostate cancer.
Because my dad had prostate cancer decades before, I had been going to a urologist since I turned 40 to have a PSA [prostate-specific antigen test]. Recently, my PSA had shot up very high, to 29, and the following biopsy confirmed that I had a highly aggressive tumor. At 50 years old, I faced the biggest battle of my life.
I soon realized that I knew very little about the disease, so I turned to the Internet for answers. I may not have done the best search, but all the articles I read were discouraging — no stories of survivors, just facts and data that led me to believe that cancer would be the death of me. I also had two friends who had died of the disease, so my confidence was pretty shaken.
I contacted an old acquaintance who had walked this road before. Hamilton Jordan, three-time cancer survivor and former White House Chief of Staff under President Jimmy Carter, was a busy man. But he wasn’t too busy to cheer up a friend.
“Don’t worry,” Hamilton assured me. “They caught it early. You’re going to beat this.” He recommended that I visit his urologist at Emory Healthcare in Atlanta. And I did. Hamilton also dropped off a copy of his book, No Such Thing as a Bad Day, and in it he’d written a most moving personal letter which brings tears to my eyes every time I read it. After that, I was ready for a fight.