Tuesday, September 23, 2008

12 Week Update - Athletes for a Cure Triathlon

Its hard to believe that 12 weeks have passed since my surgery, it seems like years ago. I am doing very well now and traveled to Atlanta last week on business. That was my first trip since my surgery and it was great seeing some of my team and the folks I have worked with for years in Atlanta. The support was overwhelming and I am so thankful for my team and all the folks at work that gave me encouragement while I was there. I am traveling to Denver, CO next week and look forward to seeing the remainder of the team while I am there. My incontinence is nearly gone and I am using less that one pad per day. Staying persistent with my kegal exercises has helped improve my results dramatically. My male functions are improving and I am ahead of schedule. Prayer and patience is the key here.

This past weekend Peggy and I traveled to Orlando, FL to volunteer at the "Athletes for a Cure Triathlon" (Prostate Cancer Foundation) at Walt Disney World, Fort Wilderness. First, let me say how awesome it was to have Peggy with my for support. She has been my rock through this experience and I really appreciate her. She is my best friend and I love her with all my heart! It was great weather for the event and we met a lot a great people. As you have read in my previous blogs, Lori and Michael Bredemeier were to compete in the triathlon to raise money and awareness for this disease. Due to an injury Lori was unable to compete in the event so she made Michael go at it alone. He did a great job finishing the event and I am not sure how he was still standing after the 1 mile swim, 28 mile bike ride and 6.2 mile run. I really appreciate Michael and Lori taking donations for the foundation in support of me. I wish there were more people like them in this world. I also want to thank once again all those people who donated money to the foundation in my honor. It means a lot and will go for a great cause. We met some really inspiring people this weekend. There was a man who was 64 years old who has survived 6 different types of cancer including prostate cancer 2 years ago that completed the triathlon. What an inspiration he was. There was also 9 year old Winter Vinecki, (pictured below) her father Michael was diagnosed with a rare form of prostate cancer at age 40 and was heading in for his 9th surgery after the event. I had a chance to meet him over the weekend and all I can remember is his upbeat attitude and constant smiling, he was a true inspiration. His wife also competed and completed the triathlon as well. His daughter Winter raised over $31,000 of the $100,000 raised from the event to for the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Winter competed in the children's duathlon on Saturday and competed and completed the Triathlon on Sunday. She is an amazing kid. I also met several other guys who were in there late 30's and early 40's that are survivors. These guys had robotic surgery like me and it was great to hear that all of their functions are now normal. We all have the same goal: How can we change the face of this disease? It's not an "older man" disease anymore. This weekend was so inspiring, talking to the survivors and seeing all the athletes compete. I was truly touched and have committed to competing in a sprint Triathlon next year so I can raise money as well. I will leave you with one assignment, take time today to hug your family members and tell them how much you love them, Life is Good!

Pictures from the Event:

Michael & Lori Bredemeier

Michael just completed the triathlon, their team raised $3,000 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation

Winter Vinecki (9years old)

She raised over $31,000 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation and completed the childrens duathlon and triathlon (1 mile swim, 28 bike, 6.2 run), amazing!

Athletes for a Cure Booth

The Volunteer Crew (Left to Right)
Emily, Bobbi (event coordinator), Peggy (wife) and Jan (fellow AT&T employee)

Darren, not seen...taking the picture

Also not pictured is Ryan Link, he was the Project Manager (Athletes for a Cure) for the event and I appreciate his support, the event was great!

Darren (Me) and Lori Bredemeier

Lori is my fellow co-worker who helped raise money in support of me when she found out I was diagnosed.

We are patiently waiting for Michael to finish the event.

Monday, September 8, 2008

PSA Results

I received great news today, my PSA test was less than 0.1 which confirms that I am cancer free (AWESOME) after my surgery. I thank God for each day and especially today. I will continue my close screening in the next 3 months and in the coming years, but I am thankful for my healing. It has been an incredible journey but I am a much stronger person as a result. My continued mission is to help others who may have just found out they have this disease and also educate men on the importance of proactive screening, because it could save your life!

My wife and I will be in Orlando, FL in two weeks volunteering at the "Athletes for a Cure" Triathlon (Prostate Cancer Foundation) Event. I will be taking pictures and will blog my experience. It's great to see the athletes working hard to raise money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation. If you would like to help in the fight against Prostate Cancer, please go to the link below. Your help is greatly appreciated! I am seriously considering training for this event for next year..."If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right"...Henry Ford

Keep the faith and don't ever give up!


Sunday, September 7, 2008

10 Week Update - "First PSA, Ocala Magazine"

Its hard to believe it but tomorrow will be 10 weeks since my surgery. I am a little nervous for Monday to come because I should get the results of my first PSA test since my surgery. I do feel very confident that the results will come back negative especially since I got a good report on the final pathology report, but there is something about waiting for that first confirmation. Its like having a small monkey on your back, its not to heavy but you can feel it there. I'm thankful I am on the backside of this journey and look forward to a long life ahead. I will post the results as soon as I find out. Thanks again for all emails, thoughts, and prayers, I am truly blessed to have such great support, it has been a source of strength for me throughout this journey.

I also wanted everyone to know that the September issue of "Ocala Magazine" has printed an article on my blog. The article turned out great and they also included some other great information as well. If you would like to view the article online go to www.ocalamagazine.com and click on "This Months Features" and scroll down to "Pulse". Please share with others, its my mission to educate others about proactive screening for early detection.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

9 Week Update "Life is Good"

It's hard to believe that 9 weeks have passed since my surgery. In fact, it doesn't seem like I went through the surgery and all the stress associated with prostate cancer. My life is almost completely normal at this point. I am exercising on a regular basis without any pain (other than sore muscles) and I am back to work full force and have 4 business trips out of state scheduled in September and October. I have also been having some fun. I hired a fishing guide (Captain Rick Muldrow, out of Yankeetown, FL) about 3 weeks ago and my son and I went saltwater fishing on the flats in Crystal River (Gulf of Mexico). We had a blast and caught about 30 + fish in 4 hours and Tyler caught the biggest fish of the day, a 24" 5lb Red Fish (Shown in picture with Captain Rick), but I caught the most fish and we also caught 4 sting rays. We took the motorhome (we have a permanent RV spot in the Gator RV tailgating lot) up to Gainesville, FL and tailgated at the first Gator football game last weekend and I made it to the end of the 1st quarter and watched the rest of the game from the air conditioned RV. My son sat with me at the game and it was too hot for him so we left. The weekend before, my wife and I went on a trip to Orlando to relax and have some fun. As you can see my life is back to normal, and I am getting better control over my incontinence. I have been doing my kegal exercises (to strengthen my pelvic floor muscles) 30 minutes a day every day and I am only using 1.5 depend guards a day now. On this pace I think I will be close to having full control of the incontinence by the end of October. On the male functions, I am on schedule but this will take time. It could take up to a year to be completely healed, so again, great family support, patience, positive attitude and faith will take me through as it has through my first 9 weeks, "Life is Good".