When Ted Roberts learned he had prostate cancer, he gave himself a good half hour to be upset. After that, he got on with his life.
“Naturally I was upset. I said, ‘oh why me?’” says Roberts. “But by the time I walked to my car I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself.”
Fortunately Roberts’s tumour is slow growing, or as his urologist put it, “the best kind.” The Colwood resident decided surgery wasn’t an option, but changing his lifestyle and attitude was.
After his diagnosis in December 2007, the now 73-year-old retired CN rail employee eats healthy and cut sugars and processed meats from his diet, and adopted a fitness regime that would make younger men wince.
He’s a frequent face at Bikram’s hot yoga in Langford and at Royal Roads University fitness centre, which is near his home in Aquattro. A regular cyclist in summer and skier and snowshoer in winter, Roberts isn’t ignoring prostate cancer, but it’s not dictating his life. “I don’t even think about it unless I get a call from the Prostate Centre. It doesn’t bother me or hold me back.”
He is under a care regime called active surveillance. His tumour is biopsied about every two years to monitor growth, complementing regular medical checkups. More aggressive forms of cancer would likely require surgery followed by radiation treatment.
“(Active surveillance) might change at some point, but I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing,” Roberts says. “Basically, I have a tumour that I will outlive, and I intend to.”
At prostate cancer support groups, Roberts said newly diagnosed men tend to want surgery quickly, without knowing all the options. He stresses that surgery isn’t always the automatic option.
“Men hear prostate cancer, and they want to get it out,” he says. “The main thing is keeping a good focus and attitude and not getting tied up in anxiety.”
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for men in Canada, but the vast majority survive if it is caught early enough.
The Prostate Centre was a key source of information after he was diagnosed, and due to his positive outlook and healthy lifestyle, he’s become something of a motivational speaker for the non-profit centre.
As part of his regular volunteering efforts, this weekend Roberts is helping at the Father’s Day Run/Walk at RRU, the main fundraising event for the Prostate Centre.
Leanne Kopp, executive director of the Prostate Centre, said the Father’s Day event is critical to the survival of the centre. Last year participants at the run/walk raised almost $100,000 — this year they’re aiming for $107,000. “We thought we’d up the ante a bit,” Kopp said.
The funds go toward programs to support men on Vancouver Island diagnosed with prostate cancer, their families and for those completing treatment.
Kopp noted the centre doesn’t get funding from the health authority or any other branch of the government.
“The Father’s Day event is such an incredibly important event for us,” Kopp said. “It gets wonderful community support and allows us to help men and their families.”
The Father’s Day run and walk is June 19, 10 a.m. at Royal Roads University, starting near the recreation centre. See wwwfathersdayrun.ca or www.theprostatecentre.org.