After adopting a healthy lifestyle and losing over 50 pounds, Charlie Taylor was in the best shape of his life — but then he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. We chatted with Charlie to learn about his prostate cancer journey and his advice for others going through a similar experience.
Tell us a bit about yourself, your health journey, and your diagnosis.
I’m 58 years old and have been married to my wife Kelly for 34 years. We have two adult children and with their partners, we have three awesome grandsons. I’ve worked in the automotive industry for 40 years. I officiated basketball in Canada for 35 years. I love spending time outdoors and summers on Washademoak Lake.
When I was 49 years old, I was diagnosed with an elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA), and I was sent to a urologist by my family doctor. More testing was done and just after my 50th birthday, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Twelve months prior to my diagnosis, I worked hard on becoming healthier by changing my lifestyle through diet and exercise. I was in the best shape I had been in for a long time. I had dropped 50 pounds and had no symptoms. Two weeks after my diagnosis, I had a radical prostatectomy and was then sent to an oncologist for further treatment. My oncologist tested my PSA every six months and it was undetectable — and it still is. To this day, I have not needed further treatment.
I have one side effect from surgery, and I deal with this by taking medication. On a positive note, I’ve won the battle against prostate cancer and am now here celebrating with my family and friends.
The advice I’d give to men and their families would be, to listen to your doctors and do what they suggest.
What’s the biggest misconception about prostate cancer?
My father lost his battle with prostate cancer at the age of 68, only six weeks after his diagnosis back in 2000.
One thing I hear a lot is, “Well, if you’re going to get cancer, this is the one to get.” Cancer is cancer. If detected early, prostate cancer has a 90 percent survival rate, but I’ve known a lot of people who have lost the battle.
I’m a big believer in the PSA test. There’s a lot of controversy over a PSA test because an elevated PSA doesn’t mean that you have prostate cancer, but it does tell you that there’s something wrong and that more investigation is needed. As men, we only have two tests to detect prostate cancer. One is the PSA test and the other is the digital rectal exam.
What advice would you give to Canadians who have recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer or who have a loved one who has recently been diagnosed?
The advice I’d give to men and their families would be to listen to your doctors and do what they suggest. If I hadn’t listened to my doctors, I may not be here today. If you’re not comfortable with what your doctor tells you, seek a second opinion.
How did you get involved with the former Prostate Cancer Canada and the Canadian Cancer Society, and what role did they play in your experience?
I attended a prostate cancer support group in Moncton just after my surgery as it helped me in my recovery and a couple of years later, I took over the group as the leader. I found that for many, more personal one-on-one meetings with newly diagnosed men and their families were better received. That’s how and why I volunteer as a peer support person if needed.
Do you have any additional thoughts that you’d like to share?
I recommend that men over the age of 50 get tested for prostate cancer, and if there’s a history of the disease in your family, then start getting your PSA checked at the age of 40. I started at the age of 42 and if I hadn’t, I may not be here today to share my story. Early detection saves lives. It did in my case.
This article was brought to you by one of Canada’s leading research-based pharmaceutical companies.