When Brian Germain (currently 63) turned 60, he figured he would finally go see a doctor to get a physical. “Yeah, I had been training on the mats since I was almost 13. I had fought on USA Judo’s national team several times in my 20’s and early 30’s. Then through my 40’s and 50’s I was banging on the BJJ [Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu] mat with guys 20 to 30 years younger than me. I stayed in shape and figured I was healthy. Wasn’t I?” It was that physical when Germain first discovered he might have prostate cancer.
“Through all my years of training, I had neglected my checkups. I mean, I didn’t know about PSA screenings and how simple they were, but that’s no excuse. I take full responsibility for being a dumba** in that regard. I should have known. If I had simply gone to a doc to get checked up I would have known.”
What complicated Germain’s problem was Covid. Shortly after Germain discovered his elevated PSA, everything started to shut down. “That kind of helped with my denial, too,” stated Germain. It was over a year before his clinic in Lakeland, FL, opened up, worked through their backlog, and got back to Germain’s case.
“Just before I turned 62, I finally got my follow-up appointment.” Another quick PSA still showed an elevated reading. Three months later, on April 12, 2021, Germain had his radical prostatectomy. “I trained for my surgery like I would have trained for a tournament. It helped me handle the stress and it got me in really good shape. I figured I’d be ready for anything that came my way. I even held out the carrot of a comeback to the mat at some point. I was determined not to let this procedure ultimately define me.”
Seven months later to the day, on November 12, Germain got his fairytale ending in Las Vegas at the 2021 World Masters BJJ Championships. “Training for a world event, at a black belt level, while recuperating from the aftermath of a prostatectomy wasn’t easy, but it made my double gold even more satisfying.” Germain was not just going to take that performance and retire, though. He returned to Las Vegas for the 2022 Championships and recently took gold there as well.
“Always ready” is one of Germain’s mottos. Germain’s cancer had spread beyond the prostate to the seminal vesicles. His Gleason scores were unfavorable, and his post-surgical pathology showed he did not have clear margins. “I must always be ready because, statistically, at least in my head, my cancer has a good chance of reoccurring. So, training for competitions helps me stay ready for any fight. I guess it’s the price I have to pay for being a dumba** and not getting checked out sooner, but Covid’s delay didn’t help either. That’s why I tell all the guys on the mat to know your PSA. Get it checked regularly starting as early as 40 but definitely by 50. You don’t want to be a dumba** like me and get surprised at 60.”
Germain is now over one year post op and his PSA remains at 0.02. “My checkups are now every 4 months instead of 3. My doctor (Dr. Peter Hinds, Hollis Cancer Center, Lakeland, FL) has been pleased so far, but makes sure I never lose sight of the long term fight I’m in. So, hence, I stay in shape, eat right, and remain always ready for whatever comes my way.”
Germain and his wife even recently bought a second home in the mountains of western North Carolina. “We just figured after the past couple years, if we didn’t get something like this now, when would we? It’s a neat handyman project to work on, too. Plus, I get some creek therapy right in our backyard. It really helps me manage my stress so I can remain always ready.”