July 8th, 2020

Living with cancer during COVID-19

Mo Bro Jim Cassin on the real-life impacts of COVID-19 on people with cancer
Men's Health | Staying Connected
1 MIN READ
 

My name is Jim Cassin. I am 63 years old and I’m currently battling prostate cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
Going to the doctor for an annual check-up was something that had always been on my radar, even before my cancer diagnosis. Prostate cancer runs in my family, so knew early on that it was something that could, and may very likely, impact me. It was a fact I didn’t take lightly - and for good reason.
 
I didn’t have any of the classic symptoms or warning signs for prostate cancer when I was diagnosed. Everything seemed to be running smoothly until my doctor warned me that my PSA reading had started to rise, albeit just a little bit. At the time we opted to monitor it closely but in 2017 it started to climb. Just one year later, I underwent a radical prostatectomy to remove the prostate gland and tissues surrounding it. If something’s broken, you get it fixed. If it’s really broken, tear it out. That was my philosophy.
 
After the surgery, I returned back to work while continuing to go to the doctor for maintenance and monitoring. Flash forward a year and a half, and my PSA reading started jumping up again. This time I was faced with another layer of challenges - the COVID-19 pandemic. Understanding that I was at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19 than most of the population, I decided to isolate and move to my cottage while travelling back and forth to the hospital for treatments. Now, I have nine treatments of radiation therapy left, and I’m pleased to say everything seems to be going well. I am starting to experience some of the side effects of radiation but trust they will be short lived.

 
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JIM CASSIN
 

I’m living isolated – yet, not socially isolated. I spend my time hand splitting firewood, going for long walks, and just enjoying the free time. I speak to my wife every day on the phone and touch base with my son and daughter often through FaceTime or phone calls.  I keep busy and I make sure to stay socially connected.

Men, I want you to know that a simple trip to the doctor can be life changing. I often think about what would have happened if I didn’t go for my annual check-ups. I didn’t show any of the classic symptoms usually associated with prostate cancer. Had I not gone for testing it may have gone undetected and been a silent killer. And for what? All because I was too proud? too embarrassed? It’s as simple as being proactive and getting checked. Just because you feel fine, doesn’t mean anything at all. A prostate cancer diagnoses is not a weakness; it can happen to anyone. Taking the time to prioritize yourself may very well give you more time. Period

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