About Thomas L.
I am a prostate cancer survivor only through the sacrifices made by my younger brother, Tom. Without his concern, care and guidance, I would not be here today. Sadly, the only reason I continue to live is because he died from prostate cancer. He was diagnosed with terminal metastasized prostate cancer in 2006 at the age of 41 and given nine months to live by his doctor in Chicago, being told there was nothing they could do. His first call was to tell me and urge me to immediately get tested, which at the time was negative. With a fighting spirit, he refused to accept the prognosis presented to him and seeking many other opinions finally found a caring, compassionate, wonderful doctor at the Mayo Clinic who befriended him to help fight this horrible disease. Throughout his battle he remained diligent in speaking with me, coaching me, and caring so much for me that he did not want me to face the same fate. We often talked together about life in general, our lives together, advice from his doctor, and the impacts of the cancer to our families. He steadfastly pushed me to get PSA labs done frequently and biopsies done regularly, offering support and guidance. It was as if he somehow knew that one day, I too would contract prostate cancer. In February 2013, I received the call to come to the doctor’s office and discuss my biopsy results; and, knew this was that day. At this point, Tom had time and again proven the original doctors wrong and had now gone 7 years living with an imminent terminal prognosis. When I called him to tell him that I had advanced prostate cancer, he immediately jumped into action making all the necessary contacts with his doctor and would not let me even contemplate addressing the issue with any other medical provider. In three weeks I visited Minnesota by myself for further testing and diagnostics; and who to my surprise was there, my brother Tom. And while he struggled with his own mortality because of this disease, his concern, compassion and care for me was omnipresent. Three weeks later in April I was back in Minnesota for a radical prostatectomy, again, Tom was there and supported me. Sadly, in June 2013, only 5 weeks after my surgery, Tom took a turn for the worse. He had fought so hard for so long, not only for himself and his family, but for me as well. I visited him twice more in Chicago over the next few months while he was first hospitalized and then finally at home under hospice care. These visits were hard and very different from all our previous interactions dealing with prostate cancer. It was as if he had succeeded in his mission to save me and now was ready for the cancer to take him. In September 2013, Tom passed. Inside I felt guilty that this great person, my brother, had died; and I was allowed to live only because of him. I am going on being cancer-free for five years now; and, I owe my life to my self-less, caring little brother.