Two-time prostate cancer survivor takes steps for 'ZERO'
Chris Meyer knows prostate cancer isn't something just old men need to think about.
The Woodbury resident had his first bout with the disease in 2010 at age 40, then had to deal with a recurrence in 2016.
The two-time survivor is on a mission to raise awareness about prostate cancer, especially among younger men. That includes participating in the ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk Saturday, Sept. 15 around Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis. Funds raised from the event go to support prostate cancer research, education and screening.
We asked Meyer about his prostate cancer experience and what it means to participate in this year's ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk.
How did you learn that your prostate cancer had returned?
I had been continuing with regular doctor visits and PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) blood tests since my surgery, more than eight years ago. My PSA results had normally been undetectable, but recently began "jumping around" a bit and causing some concern. My doctor decided to perform a DRE (digital rectal exam) to ascertain what may be causing the PSA spikes. He felt a nodule and decided to perform a biopsy. The biopsy results came back as positive for cancer.
Was fighting it any different the second time around?
I frankly never looked at it that way. It has felt like a continuation of the same fight, rather than a second fight. I think anyone who has had cancer can relate to the regular checkups after any major treatment. Those checkups cause some anxiety, because there is always that question in the back of your mind — "did it come back this time?" Every time the test results come back "undetectable" you feel like you won the lottery, at least until the checkup. Because of that constant reminder, I've never believed I was completely "out of the woods," particularly at my age. I was 40 years old when I was first diagnosed, so there was a lot of time for it to come back. And, frankly, I'm only 48 years old now so I'll likely be fighting it again in the future.
How does it feel to be participating in the ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk as a two-time survivor?
The ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk has been a great way for my family and me to remember how lucky we've been. It helps me remember not to take things for granted and certainly not to take things too seriously. It does feel a little different this time around though — with recurrent cancer and a chance I might be fighting this disease again in my lifetime — the money raised at events like this one could potentially fund research to save my own life someday. That's a sobering thought.
What message do you have to men who don't have prostate cancer on their radar?
I get it. I didn't have it on my radar at 40 years old either. Guys hate talking about this stuff and hate the thought of the exam. However, it really isn't a big deal at all. If you've had a physical for playing organized sports when you were younger, it's about the same thing. Had my doctor waited until I was 50 years old to check me, I can confidently say I wouldn't be here today. I would tell other men that you owe it to yourself and your family to get checked. I realize there are varying opinions around the PSA test — the age it should be done, treatment options, etc. But, I'm not even talking about a PSA test. Just talk to your doctor about a simple DRE and you can decide together if more testing makes sense based on the information you have, your family history, etc. Bottom line, don't be afraid talk with your doctor about it. Prostate cancer is not just an older man's disease and early detection is key to surviving it. You can't find it early if you don't get checked.