How I Beat Prostate Cancer

Jim Massie began volunteering with the Prevent Cancer Foundation because it was the right thing to do. He never would have predicted that the experience would give him the awareness he needed to save his own life.

Eight years ago, Jim and his wife, Camille, were key volunteers for the Hope Street Kids “Swinging for Caroline” annual golf and tennis benefit, the primary fundraiser for one of the Foundation’s children’s initiatives. He sat on the executive committee to advise on financial issues, and she co-chaired the event.

The connection to the Foundation was important to Jim. His mother had died of brain cancer — so he knew how quickly one’s health could take a turn for the worse. Those losses, combined with the responsibility he felt toward his wife and three young daughters, made him keenly aware of his need to take care of himself.

Two years ago, just like clockwork, Jim went to his doctor for a routine annual physical. And she didn’t like what she saw. “There was an uptick in my PSA,” he said, referring to the prostate-specific antigen test that can detect the presence of prostate cancer cells. “She said, ‘It’s time to take a closer look.’ ” The diagnosis? Prostate cancer.

After retreating to the comfort of his family while dealing with the shock, he began to learn as much as he could, asking friends and colleagues for information. For almost two months he collected a list of medical opinions — a process which convinced him that he had options. He decided to go after the cancer aggressively.

“It’s important to develop a strategy and figure out what you’re most comfortable with,” he said. “I was really blessed to have a loving wife who was right there with me through all of it. You learn to appreciate even more each day that God gives you.”

Now, two years later, at age 52, Jim is disease free — but he still keeps every regular appointment as he continues his recovery. He’s not taking anything for granted. “The best advice I could give anyone would be to get engaged in your own health and be your own advocate,” he says. “And if, God forbid, something does happen, do your research. Take a deep breath. Don’t hit the panic button. Make sure you’re making good decisions.”