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Community Spotlight: Jim

After a shocking diagnosis at the young age of 52, Jim Rathburn has spent the years post-treatment networking with cancer centers, talking to others, and finding creative ways to get the word out about early detection. Jim shares his story with the community, encouraging everyone to talk about prostate cancer with anyone who will listen - it could save a life.

I was 52 years old. I had a cold and my wife talked me into going to the doctor. The doctor suggested that I should have a prostate exam based strictly on my age. I had elevated PSA. Three months later it was higher. Referral to a urologist resulted in having biopsy and bone scan. 52 years old. 52 years old!

Treatment decisions

I elected to have a prostatectomy as opposed to radiation, watchful waiting, or radiation seeds implanted. The impact that I had was more from the surgery itself than from the cancer. The biggest impact is that I have erectile dysfunction as a direct result of the surgery. Additionally, four years after my initial surgery, due to rising PSA, I had radiation, which resulted in weakened bladder function. Presently, the only treatment is yearly PSA bloodwork.

Unawareness is the biggest obstacle

Unawareness is the biggest obstacle against early detection, in my opinion. “You don’t know what you don’t know.” At every turn there are commercials, t-shirts, etc reminding us about breast cancer and there are numerous ads now about colorectal detection kits to use at home. Yet, little is said, at all, about prostate cancer unless you specifically are looking for information on it.

Getting the word out in my community

My age was what prompted me to want to talk to other guys about the importance of early detection. I, most certainly, cannot imagine speaking before an audience large enough to fill the Nutter Center, but I do imagine going into break rooms at places like Lowe’s or church men’s groups or American Legion Posts, etc. I have a PowerPoint Presentation, that needs to be updated, that I have not even presented publicly yet. I’m thinking 20-40 guys at a time. This size audience might be more relaxed which might encourage questions.

Talk, it could save your life

The best advice that I could give a guy is to not be too concerned about the digital rectal exam (DRE). Get the PSA and go from there. Talk! Talk! Talk! Talk to your wife, girlfriend, pastor, doctor, dog, brick wall, even yourself. Don’t keep anything inside. Find answers to any and all questions that you have. This applies to after surgery too. Join a support group! TALK! Celebrities mean a lot to us. I list some well know men that had prostate cancer and survived and some that did not, most notably, Jerry Orbach, actor (Law and Order, Dirty Dancing) and Dan Fogelberg, Singer (Longer, Leader of the Band, Same Old Lang Syne)

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Many voices are stilled far too soon that might still be with us if they had only known sooner.

-Jim Rathburn

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