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One-Year Update: A Beacon of Hope for Others

More than a year ago, Matt Fish kindly shared his remarkable story with PCF. A Veteran, Matt was diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 45. After a prostatectomy, his PSA remained high, and a PET scan showed that the cancer had spread to his hip. The cancer was advanced: Gleason 9, Stage 4. He started medications to lower his testosterone: a daily oral novel hormonal therapy, abiraterone, along with Lupron shots every three months. Matt experienced side effects, but coped by keeping life as normal as possible and staying busy with work, family, and outdoor activities.

Two and a half years after his initial diagnosis, Matt has wonderful news to share. Now off hormone therapy, his energy levels are improving and he’s feeling more like himself. His PSA remains undetectable. Most recently, a PSMA PET scan showed no spots of cancer, and he is in remission!

Matt and his wife, Penny, enjoy outdoor adventures and travel.

Matt is thankful for the new developments in prostate cancer care. He describes the medication as a “game changer – my doctors kept telling me how well I was responding.” The initial PET scan he received wasn’t specific for prostate cancer, so his doctors couldn’t be as certain which spots indicated metastatic disease. Today, PSMA PET scans target a protein called prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA) on the surface of prostate cancer cells, and can show smaller amounts of prostate cancer, with greater clarity.

Also important, Matt says, is attitude. “Sometimes, I wanted to be treated like a cancer patient. I wouldn’t be feeling well, and I wanted the sympathy. But that was rare. Mostly, I wanted to get on with my life and my daily routine­—working every day, playing sports, doing yard work.” While the side effects of hormone therapy were rough at times, he recognizes that “I had it easy, compared to some other men.”

Matt has a strong follow-up plan with his doctors. He’ll continue getting his PSA checked every 3 months, tracking his PSA doubling time. If needed, he can go back on hormone therapy, or consider other options. “They’re coming out with new discoveries all the time.”

He’s feeling optimistic about the future, with good reason: having just celebrated his 20th wedding anniversary, he’s embarking on an Alaskan cruise this summer. “I want to be a beacon of hope for others and help other men know they can get through this, too. I was Stage 4, Gleason 9 – and I am doing OK.”

Becky Campbell
Becky Campbell develops medical content at the Prostate Cancer Foundation. She has previously worked in outcomes research and in science education.