James Murphy's Story

Having a career as a professional athlete, I’m no stranger to tests of endurance, strength, and physical ability.

But fighting prostate cancer was a challenge I wasn’t expecting at all.

I was in the Canadian Football League (CFL) for eight years, playing for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers from 1982 to 1990. During that time, I played on three Grey Cup Championship teams, and was named the Most Outstanding Player in 1986. Twice I was a CFL All-Star, and in the year 2000 I was inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame.

Playing professional football means training and motivation, and having the knowledge to perform. Facing prostate cancer isn’t all that different – you have to be informed, you have to be mentally prepared to fight a battle, and you have to give it everything you’ve got.

My prostate cancer was caught early, and for that I am so thankful. I owe it all to my wife Loreen. If it hadn’t been for her encouragement to be more proactive about my health, I never would have gone to the doctor last year. After all, I was in good shape, and I took care of myself. There was no history of prostate cancer in my family. But the routine PSA test I received that day may have saved my life.

That test revealed that my PSA levels were way out of whack. It prompted my doctor to schedule more blood work, followed by a biopsy. Even then, I was sure my test results would be negative. I couldn’t believe it when I heard “the C word”. Nobody is ever truly prepared for that news – it can make you feel panicked
Like anybody else, I was unsure of what to do at first. But soon I came to grips with it. Because it was caught early, I had time to educate myself about the treatment options, and make an informed decision about how to proceed. It came down to a decision between radiation or surgery. Because I was only 54, and in good health, we decided that surgery was the route that we wanted to go.

I took a leave of absence for two months to undergo treatment, and I was back at work in February of this year. I’m doing well now. I still go for follow-up PSA tests every 3 months, but my levels are gradually coming down. I still have to be diligent, and we continue to monitor the situation.

It could have been far worse for me if my wife hadn’t encouraged me to check on my health. Men need to know that prostate cancer could be a ticking time bomb inside of them – it needs to be caught in time to take action.

When I was first diagnosed, I wasn’t sure I wanted to tell anybody that I had prostate cancer. But I think that everything happens for a reason, and if I can help other people overcome this disease, then I want to do everything I can to get the word out.

Men need to know that prostate cancer doesn’t affect them alone, but those around them too. It really affected my family as we faced this challenge together. I have two stepchildren with Loreen – my stepson Ryan who is 26, and my stepdaughter Chelsea who is 23. A big part of my motivation in beating prostate cancer is to be there for them – now and in the future.

Facing prostate cancer was tough, but in the end, it brought us closer together. I’m lucky that Loreen was so insistent that I take care of myself, because now I’ve been through this experience, and I’m still here to be with my family.

James Murphy

Posted: 2014-07-25 2:52:41 PM