"I received the call on my way to catch a flight last June…"

I was in the airport parking lot when my doctor called to deliver the news that I feared the most – I had prostate cancer. I remember sitting there, stunned. Several things began running through my mind, over and over: My kids. My wife. My loved ones. And death. I was too young to die. I wanted to be there for my family. I wanted to see my children grow up.

I debated whether or not to call my wife, as I sat there. When I finally decided to call her, as soon as I heard her voice, I started to cry. It was a tough day. Later I went from fear, to disbelief. I thought: This can’t be right. I played in the NFL. I work out all the time. I’m in excellent shape. And I’m not even 40 yet. How can this be happening?
But it was true. Prostate cancer can affect anyone. And every man is susceptible – old or young, married or single – men from every walk of life have to know their risk for this disease, and they have to be accountable for it! That’s why I want to reach as many men as I can to encourage them to be proactive about their health. I want them to know that a simple PSA blood test can save their lives.
My father had prostate cancer many years ago, and knowing that critical piece of information made a huge difference – because I knew I had to be on guard. That meant I got regular PSA blood tests, even in my 30s.
Todd McMillon, his wife and 3 children

In January 2013, one of those PSA tests found an irregularity. It showed that my PSA levels were elevated, and prompted my doctor to keep an eye on them. He asked that I return in 6 months for a follow-up. When I did, the test revealed an even higher PSA level, and a biopsy was scheduled. The results of that biopsy confirmed that I had prostate cancer.
When I next spoke with my doctor to arrange a consultation, he suggested that I bring my wife, Erin, with me to the appointment. He said it was important that we come in together. Throughout the whole ordeal, she was there to support me. When I was down, she picked me up.
After careful consideration, we decided that surgery was the best way to go. And that was the only time I ever saw Erin cry, on the day of my surgery. When I asked her what was wrong, she said “we’re just finally here”. It made me realize how incredibly strong she had been – and just how tough prostate cancer is on the entire family.
I underwent surgery that required ten small incisions in my abdomen to remove the prostate. I was in the hospital only for a day, but it was difficult coming home, and seeing the look of concern on my children’s faces. I’d always been so strong in their eyes – and prostate cancer had temporarily sidelined me.
A few days after the surgery, we found out that the cancer had been contained entirely within the prostate. It had been a success. And we got through it together.
I think one of the biggest challenges for me was overcoming the embarrassment I initially felt when I was diagnosed. I didn’t want to tell anyone, and I didn’t want word to get around. I was afraid people would look at me differently; that now they weren’t going to see the man that I was – they would only see the prostate cancer.
Standing up and saying “I had prostate cancer, and I’m a survivor” was even tougher than playing in the NFL. There was no helmet – there was nothing to hide my face as I said those words to people.
But you know what? As I began to tell people, I realized just how unaware men are about this disease. People had so many misconceptions about prostate cancer – and about the PSA blood test. And the more I talked about it, the more men were going to the doctor and taking charge of their health.
I realized I could reach even more people if I worked with organizations like Prostate Cancer Canada (PCC) because donor support helps PCC to fund the most innovative prostate cancer research, so that new methods of diagnosis and treatment are always being developed. And it helps them spread the word about prostate cancer, so that men will get that critical PSA test.
Together, we’ll encourage all men to be proactive and to “own their health”. That means men everywhere – of all ages and backgrounds – can hear the message, face prostate cancer and overcome it. I applaud your dedication to fighting this disease, and I hope you’ll send in your generous gift to Prostate Cancer Canada today.

Todd McMillon

Prostate Cancer Canada's vision is to be a global leader in the fight against prostate cancer. Your support will help us achieve this ambitious goal.

Posted: 2014-08-29 12:41:46 PM